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A Roman Peace in Briton: Blood on the Stone

Previously on Joe Unleashed, the world bore witness to how I felt about the state of the publishing industry and in particular, the fear and loathing in which I held it. I’m certain I’m not the first novelist or writer to harbor such sentiments. As a matter of fact, witnessing the proliferation of e-reader devices and vanity presses, I’m quite sure of it.  But alas, nevermore shall I dwell on such thoughts.  The die is cast and the proverbial Rubicon crossed. With very little peril, I may add.  Very anti-climatic and not nearly as dramatic or performed with the same flourish as the late, great Julius Caesar when he originally coined the phrase.

Nonetheless, here is a peek at my debut novel,

Over two thousand years ago, in a vanished world in which gallant death and honor still holds sway, Gaius Julius Caesar is blitzing through Briton’s fierce, blue-painted warlords, exacting a heavy price in exchange for peace. News from Rome and word of rebellion in war-ravaged Gaul cut short Caesar’s invasion of Briton, leaving him little choice but to return to the mainland. Leaving for Gaul, Caesar entrusts a depleted legion to Cussius Caesar, and senior centurion, Marcus Rulus. With orders to further explore Briton and return to Gaul with the tribute, Marcus and Cussius find themselves in a remarkable quest to carve a future out of the land. A Roman Peace in Briton follows the lives of those left behind whose fates become bound to the people of the fabled, fog-bound lands of ancient Briton. Filled with dramatic scenes and abounding in fictional and historical personalities, A Roman Peace in Briton hooks with passionate storytelling and engulfs the reader in events of historical legend.

Still not enough? Then how about a brief excerpt randomly selected from deep within the book itself. Here it goes:

The knoll itself was a decent observation point from which to survey the countryside, including the surrounding hills. The hill slanted down gently and opened up into a small valley through which the stream they had crossed earlier meandered. The wheat in the fields had already been threshed and was now winnowing. In other fields, farmers had stripped the pastureland of its bounty, and all that remained was a thick carpet of waist-high grasses that swayed uneasily in the westerly wind.

“Enemy!” screamed an alert troop. Marcus pivoted in the direction of the pointing legionary. A short distance away, a figure emerged from the fading green of the forest. Behind the figure, mild hills sloped upward to verdant woods, deep with oak and ash. Marcus smiled grimly, for he knew the forest awaited the opportunity to spew forth its content of warriors.

The solitary figure stared upward toward the waiting Romans. Marcus could just barely make out the warrior’s features. He appeared to be very tall, with rippling muscles under clear white skin striped with woad. His hair glowed blond but not unnaturally so, and was thick and shaggy like a horse’s mane. He had a cloak fastened at the shoulder with a brooch that reflected brightly in the sun. He rode perpendicular to the forest edge, brandishing his sword and bellowing loudly, banging shield and sword together, his voice reverberating roughly within the natural acoustics of the small valley.

“He seems quite belligerent and full of himself now, doesn’t he?” said Marcus, eyebrow raised in calculation. “I can’t make out what he’s yelling. Is he directing that noise toward us?” he facetiously asked Leko, a playful smile on his lips.

Leko shrugged at the spectacle. “He’s putting forth his bona fides. He is Gymm of the Coritani, son of the King, and he’s boasting of the enemies he’s bested in combat,” he said for Marcus’ benefit. “He’s also challenging you to come out and fight him man to man, in single combat to the death.” He turned to Marcus, eager to see whether or not he would accept the challenge.

Marcus gritted his teeth and a predatory grin spread across his lips. Every fiber of his being tensed as the challenge branched its taunting tentacles deep within his spirit and a primeval surge hotly coursed his veins. Though just as enthusiastic to meet the challenge issued by the boisterous enemy warrior, he maintained the stony discipline emblematic of his rank.

“Nonsense,” he said to the skeptical Leko. “We fight together.” He noticed Leko’s expression of questioning disappointment. “I have greater responsibilities than charging out at a silly challenge issued by a half-naked barbarian. We will accept his challenge to fight, however,” he said. “Tell him so, but first offer him the opportunity to surrender. Promise him he will be treated fairly.”

Leko took a deep breath, filling his lungs as full as possible before yelling in the direction of the raging warrior. “My commander accepts your offer of battle, but he would rather not see brave warriors die needlessly. In an offer of friendship, he asks that you consider surrendering. No harm will befall you, and your warriors will be treated with honor. This my master has promised.” As Leko finished, he stole a glance at Marcus to see if anything further should be added.

The strutting warrior leapt off his horse, again clanging his sword and shield together loudly. Jeering, he pulled down his leather trousers, grabbed his privities and gesticulated crudely in the direction of the bemused Roman ranks. Marcus shrugged. He needed no interpreter to get the gist of that response.

That’s enough for now. Just enough to whet your appetite.  If you want more, just skip over to Amazon and order a print version, or download the book on whatever e-reader platform you happen to be going with these days.

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