Friday, October 22, 2010

The Fall of Rome by Michael Curtis Ford

You all know by now that I love historical fiction, but the majority of the books I read from that genre follow fictional people whose lives intersect with famous luminaries and events. The Fall of Rome dramatizes exactly what the title purports--the last legs of the Western Roman Empire in the late fifth century AD, told from the perspectives of two Hunnish men, Odoacer and his brother Onulf, sons of a general and confidant of Attila the Hun. Their lives become intertwined with that of Orestes, a Germanic aide to Attila with a Roman wife, who first betrays the Huns by stealing Attila's grave goods and then proceeds to ladder-climb his way to the top of the Roman chain of command, swapping allegiances as he pleases and managing to come out on the best side of events regardless of what happens. Odoacer and Onulf vow revenge on Orestes, and though they go their separate ways to deal with their choice, fate brings them back together and into repeated contact with their sworn enemy.

I've always had a fascination for ancient Rome, so it was thrilling to read about its fall through the eyes of its final conquerors (Odoacer became king of Italy after killing Orestes and deposing Orestes' teenage son, the last emperor of Western Rome, Romulus Augustus). Historical skirmishes and campaigns are told with careful attention to detail and accuracy, painting a vivid picture of life in the Empire as it crumbled to pieces. That being said, the level of detail may be off-putting to some readers. I found myself skimming through certain passages of conflict because they didn't hold my attention--though I'm willing to bet they would play out great on screen.

Highly recommended for Rome enthusiasts and history buffs!

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