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Everything posted by parthianbow

  1. parthianbow

    The Wedding Shroud by Elisabeth Storrs

    Elisabeth Storrs first became fascinated with the mysterious Etruscan people, ancient neighbours and enemies of the city of Rome, when she saw the remarkable funerary carving that depicts a husband and wife under the same shroud. It is a picture of equality between the sexes that would never have been seen (at least as far as we know) in Rome. Driven by her fascination with this, she set about writing a novel that has as its central character a young Roman woman, Caecilia, but which is primarily about the Etruscans, into whose civilisation Caecilia is married against her will. The story is set in the late 5th century BC, when Rome was little but a fortified city surrounded by enemies - among them the Etruscans. Sadly, very little is known about the Etruscans. There is almost no written information about them that survives; much of what comes to us is what was written by them by the Romans or Greeks; the rest consists of archaeological artefacts and the vibrant paintings that remain in some tombs. One might think that it would be hard to construct a novel around these few fragments, yet Storrs has done a remarkable job. Her Etruscan world is rich and colourful and full of life, bringing not just the city of Veii to life, but also its inhabitants and their - to Roman eyes - decadent ways. Caecilia, the central character, is a troubled soul, unloved and almost without friends in her life at home. Although she does not realise it at first, her new life as the wife of Mastarna, an Etruscan noble, offers her the chance of more freedoms than she could ever have imagined. I won't give too much away except to say that this is a novel of sensuality and love, of fear and loathing and discovery. It's about loyalty (both genuine and misguided), betrayal and, I think, redemption. All in all, I found it a wonderful read. Storrs should be proud of herself for this gem of a book.
  2. In late April/early May, I, Anthony Riches (Hodder author, Empire series) and Russell Whitfield (Myrmidon author, Gladiatrix novels, and lanista on this forum) will be walking Hadrian's Wall, in full Roman gear. I will be dressed as a hastatus of the Second Punic War, Tony as a late Roman infantryman and Russ as a 1st/2nd C AD auxiliary. We'll be posting lots of updates and photos as we walk; I'm also going to try to arrange one or two days when readers who are interested can join us on the hike. We
  3. parthianbow

    Roman authors walk Hadrian's Wall in full military gear

    To increase people's interest, we have set up a competition that will run for the next 7 days. The prize is a signed copy of all (6) of my books, all (5) of Anthony Riches' books, and all (2) of Russell Whitfield's books, and a signed photo of us, mudsplattered, on the walk. THESE PRIZES WILL BE MAILED TO ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD. To enter, all you have to do is to donate
  4. parthianbow

    Roman authors walk Hadrian's Wall in full military gear

    @Metella: sorry that you won't be able to join us. May 1st is the day if things change for you - after the day's walking, we are having a signing in a bookshop in Corbridge, followed by some/many beers! The following show me in almost complete hastatus gear, complete with wool leggings against the chill. Missing cardiophylax (breast and back plate) and sword. Scary prospect imagining thousands of them charging: a volley of javelins at thirty paces, and then shield bosses in the face, or cold iron in the belly. The third is the hastatus' dressing room/my office, with some gear, after a walk. Also, the evidence that I am bleeding for this cause - even if only a little bit! The stain on the sock equates to the bandaged toe... charitygiving.co.uk/benkane if any of you feel like giving. Thanks!
  5. parthianbow

    Roman authors walk Hadrian's Wall in full military gear

    Error - sorry, no photos attached.
  6. parthianbow

    Roman authors walk Hadrian's Wall in full military gear

    @Metella: sorry that you can't join us - May 1st is the day, if things change for you. We're having a book signing in a bookshop in Corbridge that evening too, and then going for beers afterwards.... I want to add more images from my training sessions, but the 'image' tab clicks through to a url link. I've searched all the buttons, but can't find one to attach a file. Can anyone help?
  7. parthianbow

    Roman authors walk Hadrian's Wall in full military gear

    @Crispina: thanks for your post, and my apologies for not replying before now. We've actually reached our target already, which is incredible, but as there are nearly two months to go until the walk, we've raised the bar again - so if you still feel like giving, please do so! Thanks.
  8. parthianbow

    Roman authors walk Hadrian's Wall in full military gear

    That's really kind - thank you! And I know there'll be lots of mud...but at least that will give the hobnails on my boots something to grip in...!
  9. I'm in Italy at the moment, researching details for my second Hannibal novel, Fields of Blood. When at Cannae, I videoed a short piece about the battle. Please excuse a) my voice (I have laryngitis) the wind noise c) the slightly grainy quality. Otherwise, enjoy! I was in Italy in June too, filming short pieces about Spartacus. There's one about his escape to Vesuvius, One about his final battle And one about the crucifixions on the Via Appia. I hope you get the time to watch some of them!
  10. If you have an interest in ancient Rome, and like the idea of a book that is full of interesting titbits from that period, then this is most definitely the book for you. The bite-sized pieces of information are all historically referenced. Twenty-three chapters on subjects ranging from family life, names, the army and slaves to animals, buildings and toilets provide a huge number of interesting points. Very enjoyable reading, from a couple of minutes dipping in, to longer periods when wanting to know more about a particular subject.
  11. parthianbow

    Hannibal: Fields of Blood

    Thanks! Yes, a review here would be good. It comes out in the U.K. on June 6, 2013. Those international readers with e-readers will be able to buy it then too, I guess. My U.S. publishers (a different company) are out of synch. with my Hannibal books for a number of reasons. The first book in the tetralogy, which came out in the U.K. in 2010, won't be released Stateside until 2014, I don't think. That would mean that the book that this excerpt is taken from won't be out until 2015. However, there's always The Book Depository, which charges no shipping to anywhere in the world. www.bookdepository.co.uk
  12. parthianbow

    Hannibal: Fields of Blood

    The battle is about to begin:
  13. parthianbow

    Cannae by Adrian Goldsworthy

    I'm not sure how many of Goldsworthy's texts I own now, but it's at least 7 or 8. He's one of the preeminent Roman scholars about, and usefully, he's very good at writing about the Romans too. I've had this book for about 3 years, but only got around to reading it now, because it's now that I am writing about the battle of Cannae in my series of novels about the Second Punic War. The first 80 or so pages of the book fleshes out details of the history that led to this battle, and provides succinct accounts of the mid-Roman Republic, Carthage, and the armies of both civilisations. We're told about Hannibal and the Roman leaders he faced, the controversies surrounding the exact location of the battlefield, and then the juicy details of the battle. What I like about Goldsworthy is that where ever there is doubt about a detail or a moment in the battle, he says so, and then explains how and why he agrees or disagrees with it. Not all academics are this transparent, which leads to some readers making incorrect assumptions about what has been said. There are plenty of good maps and diagrams of the battle, and a decent bibliography as well. In my opinion, this is an indispensable text for those who are interested in one of the bloodiest one day battles of all time. It's also very useful to have if wandering about the site of Canne della Battaglia, in Puglia, Italy, because it makes the site come alive. Five solid stars out of five.
  14. parthianbow

    Roman Fiction?

    I can second Rufus' recommendation of Downie's books. I've read the first two, and greatly enjoyed them. Dark North by Gillian Bradshaw - a snip at $2.65, 'cos unbelievably, it's out of print - is an excellent novel about 3rd C AD Britain, when Septimius Severus led the legions into Scotland. The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffmann is the gripping tale of the siege of Masada, told through the eyes of four women who were there. It's so well-written and evocative of the time.
  15. Funny accent? Don't get me started on American accents! By the way, I'm Irish, not British.
  16. It's still a bizarre comment, IMO! I have only ever spoken English.
  17. I'm glad that you all enjoyed one/all of them. You are kidding, right?!
  18. parthianbow

    Running the Roman Home

    A nice review. I just read this too. Very good indeed.
  19. And the museum has had a nice refurbishment. Interesting 3 min. video here. Now planning my next visit! (With thanks to Mike Bishop for alerting me to this.)
  20. parthianbow

    No drums in the Roman world

    Going slightly off topic: @Melvadius: I think the term pitulus is more accurately described as 'timebeater'. That's what Michael Pitassi (The Navies of Rome) calls it. Also, there were no drums used on Roman ships (or Greek ones). That's another Hollywood introduction. Instead, the rowers' speed/stroke rhythm was regulated by voice, or by a musician (on Greek ships, a flautist).
  21. parthianbow

    Children and their toys

    An interesting thread! I think that Melvadius' comment: "That may have been one aspect but toys may normally have been made out of perishable materials (mainly wood and cloth dolls from the late 19th/ earlier 20th century are a good example) so will have tended to survive poorly in the archaeological record." is most relevant. Kids are kids, and they always have been. Yes, they would have had to have grown up far faster, but they still would have played with toys - made of wood etc. I can't prove that of course, but it makes a lot of sense to me.
  22. Yes, the 800 BC had me scratching my head too. A new date for the invasion of Germany by Rome! Still, a very interesting find. Thanks for the post.
  23. @Quintus Sertorius: yet the practice is attested not just once, but twice more in history. The first is a legend: King Porus is reputed to have shown it to Alexander after the Battle of Hydaspes. But the second is in two sources: according to Aelian and Polyaenus, Antigonus Gonatas besieged Megara with elephants in 266 BC. when the elephants were used againstthe walls, the inhabitants doused pigs in oil, lit them and then threw them over the wall. That's enough proof for me!
  24. @Metella: I cannot recommend McCall's book highly enough. I've read it twice cover to cover, and it makes the most sense of any text I've read on the cavalry of the period.