27.5.13

ISLAND OF GHOSTS, by Gillian Bradshaw

This excellent historical romance/adventure (really, the romance is not at all central, but a natural part of the story) set in Roman Britain stars Ariantes, a warlike Sarmatian prince who has voluntarily exiled himself (and his 500 men) to Britain as part of the occupying Roman force. Historically accurate (Emperor Marcus Aurelius did indeed negotiate such a pact), the clash of wildly different cultures is beautifully drawn in a deft, show-don't-tell manner. Sent to Hadrian's Wall in northern England, built by a receding Emperor because the Scots were too much trouble to subdue, Ariantes walks a fine line between staying true to himself, becoming neither "Romanized" nor refusing to yield to Rome's might, yet crafting a new life for himself and his men. This solid and satisfying book is a 5.