The Scourge of God

The Scourge of God

4.2 15
by William Dietrich
     
 

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For fans of the movie Gladiator comes this bloody account of the clashing of civilizations, as Attila the Hun, "The Scourge of God," struggles to overthrow the Roman Empire.

The Roman Empire is weakening. In 367 AD, approximately eight years after the great battle at Hadrian's Wall, Roman garrisons begin to hear rumors of barbarian tribes massing to the

Overview

For fans of the movie Gladiator comes this bloody account of the clashing of civilizations, as Attila the Hun, "The Scourge of God," struggles to overthrow the Roman Empire.

The Roman Empire is weakening. In 367 AD, approximately eight years after the great battle at Hadrian's Wall, Roman garrisons begin to hear rumors of barbarian tribes massing to the north. By 449 AD, Attila, the ruler of the Huns, has become the continent's most powerful monarch, his reputation in battle earning him the title "The Scourge of God."

Anticipating an imminent attack by the Huns, Roman leaders negotiate with one of Attila's lieutenants, convincing him to play the part of assassin. He is joined on his mission by a Roman citizen, Jonas, an ambassador dispatched to negotiate a peace treaty with the Huns. When the plot is discovered, Jonas becomes a hostage, forced to fight for his captors if he wishes to remain alive. But he soon learns that Attila intends to conquer Rome itself, and is caught between two mighty empires, both poised for one of the greatest conflicts the world has ever seen. Jonas, knowing his life could be forfeit, has the potential to tip the battle in either direction––and his decision will alter the face of Western civilization.

For readers of historically nuanced thrillers and adventure stories by authors like Bernard Cornwell and Colleen McCullough.

For readers interested in Roman and Barbarian culture and warfare.

Editorial Reviews

Margaret George
William Dietrich's The Scourge of God does well with both fact and fancy. It's a romance in the original meaning of the term: lots of adventure, swashbuckling, maidens in distress, magic swords and so on. Still, it manages to be surprisingly accurate in its depiction of the waning days of the Roman empire, the character of Attila and even some of the wildest events, which sound as if they were made up but are not.
— The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
Set in the dark final days of the Roman Empire, Dietrich's rousing fifth novel (after Hadrian's Wall, etc.) chronicles the bid of the charismatic Attila the Hun to conquer the West and dominate all of Europe. Standing in his way are the crumbling vestiges of the Roman Empire, now divided between West (Rome) and East (Constantinople) and still struggling with the adoption of Christian faith. The story of Attila's western march is given additional human dimension by a romance between Jonas Alabanda, a scribe assigned to an embassy mission to Attila from Theodosius II, emperor of the Eastern Empire, and Ilana, a gorgeous Roman taken by the Huns as a slave. Because of a foiled Roman plot to assassinate Attila, Jonas finds himself held hostage, but with the aid of a cunning and intrepid dwarf jester, Zerco, he manages to steal a legendary giant sword and upset Attila's plans and fortunes long enough for the Roman general Aetius to assemble the Germanic tribes into an effective defense force. Because the period is comparatively undocumented, the historical background is somewhat thin, and the standard-issue romance doesn't quite fill in the blanks. Still, the story unfolds swiftly and satisfyingly, and the confusing array of tribes and leaders are deftly presented-no mean feat. Agent, Andrew Stuart. (Mar. 18) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A military juggernaut stands poised to conquer Europe, and it seems nothing can stop it. The year: 451. At its head is Attila the Hun, so feared that the Roman Empire, shaking in its boots, has been shipping him annual payoffs just so he'll leave them reasonably intact. But extortion is becoming unbearably expensive. What, then, are the alternatives? Diplomacy? Absurd. The Hun can neither read nor write, much less grasp the subtleties of a proper negotiation. What the Hun can do is butcher, shoot arrows over incredible distances with jaw-dropping accuracy, and ride pell-mell through Roman streets, "contemptuous of anyone slow enough to be trampled over." If not diplomacy, how about treachery? To Emperor Valentinian and the rest of the Roman high command, that seems not merely sensible but viable. A plan is hatched: An imperial embassy will journey to Attila's lair in far-off Hunuguri, ostensibly to parlay about the amount of the current year's tribute. In reality, however, assassination is the object of the mission, since the Romans believe they have successfully corrupted a Hun lieutenant who can get close enough to Attila to be his Brutus. Joining the embassy-though ignorant of its darker aspects-is Jonas Alabanda, young, brave and callow. His fortunes are at a low ebb and his self-esteem lower still-thanks to Olivia having "discarded him like an old sandal" in favor of a richer suitor-so he's signed on eagerly as embassy scribe and historian. In rough and ready Hunuguri, Jonas will lose his innocence, fall in love, best his enemies and, temporarily at least, help preserve the Roman Empire. As always, Dietrich (Hadrian's Wall, 2004, etc.) has a firm grip on setting, but his cast isstandard issue for historical fiction-especially his underimagined, surprisingly pallid Attila, who couldn't scourge his way out of a paper bag.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780061753657
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
10/13/2009
Sold by:
HARPERCOLLINS
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
384
Sales rank:
58,724
File size:
724 KB

Meet the Author

William Dietrich is the author of fourteen novels, including six previous Ethan Gage titles—Napoleon's Pyramids, The Rosetta Key, The Dakota Cipher, The Barbary Pirates, The Emerald Storm, and The Barbed Crown. Dietrich is also a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, historian, and naturalist. A winner of the PNBA Award for Nonfiction, he lives in Washington State.

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Scourge of God 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Focusing on the journey of Jonas, a young man who is trying to prove himself as a valuable Roman, the plot follows him as he acts as the historian for an embassy of ambassadors that travel to meet Attila the Hun in hopes of peace. He soon finds himself in a different world all together. Dietrich accomplished a masterful work as he carries Jonas through a wonderfully compelling plot. He has created very realistic characters and has done a wonderful job at describing the Huns and everything about them: lifestyle, dress, language, mannerisms. If you have any interest in Rome, Huns or simply the time period, I highly recommend this book as an excellent read!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a rare fictional foray into life among the Huns of ancient times. There isn't much known about these people, since they left no written records and few artifacts. However, the author does the best job possible, given the limited resources, in reconstructing this nomad people's world and ways. The result is a great tale that moves from Constantinople across Europe to a final battle between Romans and Huns in what is now France. The story makes abundantly clear what was at stake in the conflict between a world of culture, learning, and burgeoning Christianity and the brutal, repressive, world of the Huns (though environmentalists will appreciate the fact that they used natural resources with admirable economy). At the heart of the story - and apparently crucial in saving civilization from the barbarians - is an unlikely group consisting of a young Roman scribe, a beautiful slave girl, a dwarf and his practical wife. Likable characters and lots of action make this a very readable book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book had a slow start, but the pick-up timing was excellent. The mechanics were excellent. I found one glaring grammatical error. Other readers have reviewed the plot. No need for my doing so. A young Roman diplomat, a beautiful Roman girl, a dwarf and the dwarf's fully grown wife are on a secret mission to infiltrate Attila's palace and kill him. The group did not exactly blend into any populace. In the final battle scene, there were so many soldiers that fellow soldiers got in each other's way. Jonas, both diplomat and soldier, out thought every other character, often in surprising ways. I recommend this book for the history and the fiction that prevents the history from being boring. I applaud the author for his research and his weaving together history and fiction. Exceptional work.
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Its great. I like six pages but seven pages is still better. You forgot to uppercase names and Is. Read my story , The Golden Cat, at golden girl results two to seven. Skip result five because no story is there. No rude comments. Say what i should do better instead. Ask questions at qu second result and ill answer it in qu result four. No advertizing without a review for my story. I like your story because you have awesome detail and words! Keep the awesome work up! Please read my story too. The auther Ps. Its just the auther and not thee auther. I spell it er and not or to make my name unique. Bye!