In the spring of 58 BCE the Celtic tribe of Helvetii, then settled in present-day west -central Switzerland and pressured by Germanic tribes from across the Rhine River, voted to migrate to lands in Gaul near the Atlantic Ocean. Gaius Julius Caesar opposed their passage through a Roman province, subsequently defeating an army several times larger than his available legions. In eight campaign seasons, Caesar made Gaul part of Rome's growing empire: Roman institutions of government, law, and customs were veneered onto those of the Celts. The Gallo-Roman culture that prospered formed the matrix for much of modern European civilization. That long ago Helvetian decision was the determining factor in ending a millennium of Celtic dominance in Europe, yet the Roman conquest assured that when devastating barbarian invasions erupted in the third to sixth centuries, those Germanic and Gothic tribes eventually would become Latinized. This novel personalizes the Celtic struggle against Caesar by those tribesmen who opposed him, those who supported Rome, and of the legion commanders who believed that bringing Romanitas-their concept of civilization-to the known world was the sacred destiny of Rome.
Book 1. After his father is killed by raiding Germanic warriors, Alberix, his mother and two uncles resettle in his aunt's village. One uncle is a crafter, the other a druid who teaches him arcane lore that controls Celtic gods. When Romans arrive to build watchtowers and warn of a Helvetii tribal migration, Alberix learns Roman concepts of justice from Lucius. A clique of warriors harass the outsiders, while a rival druid preaches rebellion. When the Helvetii move into Caesar's province and suffer defeat, a chieftain warns Alberix to find a leader among his people. Plots continue for a rebellion he is urged to join, but after a horrifying druidic ritual, he flees to Lucius and enlists in a Roman auxiliary unit. To impress Germanic tribes, Caesar bridges the Rhine. Alberix is lured across to a village where legion defectors train warriors in Roman tactics. The chief's daughter forms an escape plan, if Alberix will take her to Gaul, but he returns alone. Caesar, envisioning a Gallo-Roman province, offers Alberix a future leadership role. Yet, assailed by doubts over his "Celticness," and hearing of Vercingetorix, a rebel king, Alberix decides to speak with him. Ravens, the Celtic birds of death, follow him as he rides into central Gaul to find the leader. Visit the website at www.albertnoyer.com.