Thursday, October 6, 2011

Reviewing Centurion's Daughter by Justin Swanton

Her Frankish mother dead, 17-year-old Aemilia arrives at Soissons in Roman Gaul in search of her Roman father whom she has never met. She knows only that his name is Tarunculus and that he is a former centurion. She finds an old man fixed on the past, attempting in vain to kindle a spark of patriotism in his dispirited countrymen. Soon, Aemilia is caught up in her father's schemes to save the Empire and the intrigues of the Roman nobility in Soissons. In the war between Franks and Romans to decide the fate of the last imperial province, Providence will lead her down a path she could never have imagined.
Centurion's Daughter is a well written piece of historical fiction set in Gaul (France) when the Roman Empire was in its last gasps.

It is a time period I know little about but was soon more educated in as Aemilia's story was told. Aemilia herself was an interesting character, reminding me more of Saint Monica than of the more common spirited, assertive female usually seen in today's historical fiction. Aemilia was completely dependent, in turn, on her father, a local member of nobility, Soisson's bishop, and various other authorities. She usually had no choice but to do what she was told if she wanted to have clothing, food, and housing. However, as happens in real life, her natural character shone through and impulsive comments or acts of kindness would draw different influential characters' attention to her. They may have used her abilities for their own purposes but Aemilia's own goals were often served in the process. I found Aemilia a most appealing character and the way of telling her story to be refreshingly subtle.

In addition, the story seems carefully researched and the author brought this time period alive. Other characters in the book are equally well sketched with minimal description so that readers see the full gamut of personalities scheming to achieve their own goals while saving the little town of Soissons.

I suppose one could call this a YA book but it held my interest the entire time, as any well written book would regardless of intended age group. Highly recommended and I look forward with interest to seeing what Justin Swanton writes in the future.


  1. Thank you for your review. I appreciate the time and trouble.

    I am working on a sequel at present, or rather, trying to find a good plot line. Not that easy!

    God bless,

    Justin Swanton

  2. I'd love to see a look at Paris after the takeover ... hint, hint. :-)

  3. In which case you will meet St. Genevieve, as spirited and assertive a female as you could wish for. ;-)

  4. But we've already had so very many spirited and assertive females ... ok, if she really WAS that way, then ok. Not that I want them spiritless and unassertive.

    You know what I mean! :-D

  5. Of course I do. On the subject, I'm happy Hollywood will never touch the story (too off the beaten track) - when I try to imagine what they would turn Aemilia into I have an image of that Indian female ninja from The Last Legion...

  6. Exactly. They'd look for the latest equivalent of Angelina Jolie to play her.