This entry in the Casca series is set in the aftermath of the Gothic sack of Rome in 410. Our hero, cursed with immortality, has to watch his world begin to crumble after four centuries, of comparative stability, and at the start of the book has just arrived in the south of Gaul, having escaped from the sack of Rome.
This book follows a slightly different format to many Casca novels, where the framework is provided by a particular military campaign. Here the period is the backdrop while the main plot is a straight-forward adventure tale, as Casca leads a mixed band of Romans and barbarians on a rescue attempt, apparently to retrieve the daughter of a Roman aristocrat trapped in northern Gaul after the collapse of the Rhine frontier.
Having just researched part of this period myself I find the depiction of the crumbling away of Roman rule in Gaul convincing. A century after the events depicted here there were still small enclaves of the Roman war left scattered around the area, and the rivalry between (and within) different groups of barbarians was just as destructive. Parts of the Roman army, in particular the static border defence force, remained intact and can be found fighting for their new barbarian rulers.
This is a thoroughly entertaining entry in this series, with a rather melancholy twist as our hero come to terms with the collapse of his world, and a convincing depiction of the aftermath of the collapse of the Roman frontier in Gaul and changing attitudes brought on by the first sack of Rome at the hands of outside forces for 800 years.
The book is also available from the Casca Website
Author: Tony Roberts
Publisher: Americana Books