It is 72 AD, and most of Britain is under Roman domination. At Aquae Sulis, a place of pilgrimage and healing, hot waters gush ceaselessly from the earth. Since ancient times the waters have been associated with the supernatural, and are under the protection of the Celtic Goddess Sul. The Romans have renamed her Sulis Minerva, and have tamed the steaming waters to form a complex of public baths.
A statue of the hated Emperor Claudius is being erected in the precincts of the Temple of Sulis Minerva. The centurion Decius Brutus, a Celt, is ordered to return to his home town to protect the statue and prevent trouble. But the local people, led by his proud father and his fiery daughter, Megan, are threatening rebellion...
Meanwhile, Megan's twin sister Ethne is torn between her destiny as Oracle of Sul, and her love for Lucius, who is caught up in his own quest for spiritual enlightenment, with the help of the Orphic priest Demosthenes.
Twenty miles away, on Glastonia Island, a small Christian community struggles to establish a new religion in a hostile land, away from Roman persecution.
Cults from Rome, Greece, Egypt and Judaea vie with the native Celtic beliefs and form a rich backdrop to the human dramas that unfold.
The Waters of Sul is set in a time of transition and adjustment, when beliefs are questioned and loyalties are tested. Love and hate, conflict and reconciliation, troubled romance and an uneasy traffic with the supernatural all feature in this brilliantly conceived novel from a masterful storyteller.
|Product dimensions:||5.00(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.61(d)|
Read an Excerpt
Chapter 1 —Enter the Centurion
Megan heard angry voices in the front room of her home and went to investigate. Her grandfather Owein was shouting furiously at a Roman centurion in full military uniform standing stiff and straight in front of him. The girl scarcely heard what the old man was saying, so astonished was she that a Roman had even been allowed into the house. She could only think that her grandfather had committed some offence and was being arrested.
She stormed into the room, eyes flashing, and demanded to know what was going on. Both men looked at her – the old man suddenly silent in mid-imprecation, the younger man with disconcerting interest.
Megan could see that the Roman was in his early middle years – his skin browned by the sun of a climate hotter than their own, his features lean and sharp.
"Leave us!" Her grandfather said tersely. "There is nothing to concern you here."
The girl looked from one to the other. There were veins standing out on her grandfather's neck. She had never seen him so angry – nor so determined to control his anger in front of her. The Roman was not angry. He was staring at her as though sizing her up. Not as a young man would look at a woman, but as a military man would look over a new recruit.
"Go girl!" snapped Owein.
"Not until I know what is going on, grandfather. Why are you here, sir?" She asked haughtily. "Why do you harass an old man?"
"I harass no one," the Roman began, but before he could continue the old man rushed at him and butted him with his head like a man using a battering ram on a door.
"Get out!" He screamed. "Get out of my house! Leaveus alone you... you bastard... you traitor... you Roman excrement!"
Without thinking, Megan leapt forward and punched the centurion in the chest. He seemed amused and stepped back, choosing not to return the blow.
She picked up a pewter jug and flung it at him with all her strength, but it glanced harmlessly off his shoulder and fell clattering to the floor. He stooped and picked it up and set it back on the table. Then he slowly moved towards the door. There, before he left, he turned to look back at them, his expression enigmatic.
Megan and her grandfather were both shaking. She could see the old man's eyes were brimming with tears.
"What did he say to you? Why was he here?"
"Never speak to me of him, granddaughter. Never let him in the house!"
"He is a centurion, grandfather. If we defy him others will come. I know how you feel – but they have such power. We cannot hope to win alone. Shall I call Brendan and the others?"
Copyright © 1997, Moyra Caldecott."
What People are Saying About This
Moyra Caldecott's latest book is one of her best ever! A well-crafted and moving story that brings Roman Britain to life in all its dramatic glory. Subtle characterisation, human dilemma and the age old struggle of one religion against another make this a powerful, moving and exciting read.
...fascinating and engrossing ...