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.
Field of Mars is historical fiction set firmly in the period of the late Roman Republic. By that I mean none of my characters find a cell phone buried in the desert sand. I’ve drawn this novel keenly to recapture the hardship and privation the Roman legionaries would have suffered, and also to paint some of the authentic politics and political players of the day.
Ancient Rome has always fascinated me and writing this book allowed me to live in the period for around a year. It required a hell of a lot of research, an aspect of writing that I enjoy wholeheartedly. Immersing myself in the history, I even found myself having the odd dream about being in a contubernium, eating and fighting with legionaries. Hopefully I’ve rendered the period and the characters in enough detail so that it transports readers back in time to the deserts of the Middle East.
If you’ve read any of my Vin Cooper thrillers, you’d be aware that Field of Mars is a departure from the novels I’ve written to date, all but one of which were political thrillers. The exception was The Zero Option, a novel that looked into the crash of Korean Air Lines Flight 007 and presented an alternative hypothesis. I enjoyed writing that book a lot. It was the perfect subject for a thriller writer – lots of facts on the one hand and big holes of knowledge on the other. Maybe that’s also what attracted me to the lost legion of Crassus - plenty known facts riven with some yawning cracks of mystery. And it’s in these cracks that a thriller writer can have plenty of fun.
Alternative histories let us explore other possibilities. Maybe that’s why they’re so engrossing. Indeed, one of my favorite novels is Robert Harris’s “Fatherland”, which explores a world post WWII won by the Nazis.
Another favorite of mine is Robert Graves’s “I, Claudius.” That was probably the first historical fiction novel I ever read. It wasn’t an alternative view of history, but it was a totally engrossing portrait of Ancient Rome, a time that has always interested me.
When I left school, I hoped to walk into a job with the military flying fighters or choppers, I didn’t care which, just so long as it flew. I didn’t end up making the cut. Looking back on it, and knowing now that I don’t take well to authority, I think the defence forces made the right decision for the both of us.
When I received the rejection letter, I had no idea what I was going to do. I’d never given anything other than flying serious thought.
I applied for a job at a publishing company (not seriously thinking I’d land it) and found myself driving cars and motorcycles for various motoring magazines while I completed a journalism cadetship. So, all in all, not a bad fall back position.
With the cadetship completed, I switched to advertising – those copywriter guys seemed to be having way too much fun.
A few years back, and in the grip of a healthy mid-life crisis, I took some time out from advertising to learn how to fly aerobatics and write a novel. It took a couple of years to write and publish Rogue Element, and Ive been writing constantly since.
I fly these days too, when I can get enough time to stay current – the writing seems to have taken over my life. I currently live in Sydney with my wife and three kids. And, as always, I’m writing the next book.