‘Divided Empire’ by Brian Kitchen

My Review (4 stars out of 5)

Britain, 391 AD. While the powers-that-be in Rome vie for control of the empire, Flavius Vitulasius and his pal, Siward, are engaged on a confidential mission – an important document, the ‘Pagan Concord’, could rip Britain apart leading to civil war between the Christians and Pagans. Teaming up with an enthusiastic Christian, the pair soon realise their lives in danger…

This is the first book I’ve read by this author and is the first in the Divided Empire series. As with most historical novels set in this period, many of the names and places are unusual. I found some of these difficult to remember, which sometimes meant having to re-read certain passages. The author provides a handy glossary of town and river names, but this would have been more useful if located at the beginning of the book (I didn’t realise it was there until l reached the end). Anyway, the story is an appealing one, if at times a tad unconvincing (though this doesn’t mean it isn’t realistic). The author’s level of historical detail is admirable and really helps to visualise what’s happening. The characters are a disparate lot, reflecting the sorts of individuals who would naturally clash over such niceties as who’s in charge and who’s got the biggest sword. There’s also a nice line in humour which lightens things up a bit, though some of the dialogue seemed a little too modern and didn’t quite fit with the setting.

All in all, an interesting read that will appeal to lovers of historical fiction.

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