Marcus Licinius Crassus's lust for gold and glory was legendary. What became of his army is myth.
In Crassus the tyrant, Rufinius the soldier, Appias the historian, Mena the hag and Lucia the Golden Whore, David Rollins brings to life a mystery that has plagued historians for centuries. The only constant in this world is Mars, the god of war, and who he will favour is anyone's guess.
Desperate to write himself into the pages of history, proconsul Marcus Licinius Crassus marched 40,000 Roman legionaries into the heart of the Parthian empire. More than 10,000 were never seen or heard from again.
In a story that spans empires and generations, this vanished army's fate is finally unveiled. From the streets of Rome to the deserts of ancient Iran, around the globe into the heart of an empire vaster than anything Rome ever imagined, a young Alexandrian soldier is borne on the tides of the age of empires from soldier of Rome to slave of Babylon to commander of armies.
Perfect for fans of Robert Harris and Conn Iggulden, this sweeping historical thriller takes the reader on an epic journey across ancient empires and into the unknown stories of myth and legend.
Momentum page: http://momentumbooks.com.au/books/field-of-mars-episode-i/
Author site: http://www.davidrollins.net/
As the procession arrives more Parthians come into view – priests, I would say, two of them, their heads respectfully covered by lushly embroidered squares of wool, as is proper when communing with the gods. Accompanying them are half a dozen acolytes carrying baskets of honey cakes and dried figs, jugs of honey and oil. Next in the procession is the popa, the man who carries the mallet. This one is a fat middle-aged Roman wearing an obvious wig with wet blonde ringlets. Behind him are two victimari, the men charged with dragging the reluctant snow-white victima into the open. The young bull’s horns are gilded with gold foil. Red and white ribbons adorn its neck, and there’s an embroidered woolen blanket on its back not unlike the cloth squares covering the Parthian priest’s heads, though, of course, much larger.
I look over the animal. Froth flecks its maw, its eyes are wild and frightened, its nostrils flaring as it snorts. Terror – not a good sign. Is the animal prescient, I wonder, aware of its imminent future? More likely, the foreigners are penny pinchers and simply haven’t paid the victimari enough to stupefy the animal with drugged fodder, as is proper.
The acolytes place the libations of honey, oil, dried figs and wine around the animal while the priest delivers the praefatio in abysmal Latin, informing us all that the sacrifice will be a request to Mithra, the Sun God and slayer of the Primeval Bull, the Protector of Cattle, Guardian of the Waters, Bestower of Green Pastures et cetera and so forth, to grant Parthia a full and fruitful relationship with Rome, and inviting the god to attend the sacrifice. This goes on and on. Finally the head priest consummates proceedings, burning some hairs plucked from the animal’s brow on the altar and, in more atrocious Latin, he proclaims the consecration of the victim.
His acolytes feed the young bull’s tethers through a ring at the base of the altar and yank on them, forcing the reluctant animal to lower its head – thus addressing the necessary act of acquiescence. The bull snorts and rolls its eyes and bites its tongue, its fright increasing, blood now in its saliva. The priests dip branches of laurel leaves into bowls of wine and then flick them at the animal, spotting its white hide with droplets of red. In the corner of the square, a fool masturbates as he talks loud gibberish and shakes his spare fist at the heavens. There’s one in every crowd.
The air shifts direction and the smell of sweating bodies and animal dung mingles with the wafting fragrance of baking bread from some unseen shop. And all of these scents steam and intermingle with the early morning summer heat.
Ah, Rome. Who wouldn’t but take a deep breath?
David Rollins is a fiction author who lives in Sydney, Australia, and is best known for his series featuring Vin Cooper, a special agent in the United States Air Force OSI.
Rollins has published ten novels, which most recently includes Field or Mars, a detour into the world of a Roman legion lost in the mists of time and legend.