Finally, getting the blogging back on track.
I’ve dropped two fairly heavy and in-depth blogposts in the last few weeks, and covered quite a broad spectrum of writing- and publishing-related content, so I thought today it was only fair to come back to something more relevant.
A little while back I blogged about the premise of Legion That Was, as well as the general setting of the story, but I stopped short of digging into any of the main characters in detail (save for Orbus).
But no more!
My talents don’t extend to art or graphic design, so I don’t have any character sketches or portraits to give you a better idea. But then, a word is worth a thousand pictures in my opinion, so for each character I’ve screenshotted a small moment from the novel that most encapsulates who they are.
This isn’t all of them, by any stretch. A breakdown of all of them would be a long and very tedious read, but below are the characters who truly shake up the setting.
And down the rabbit hole we go.
Our protagonist and main man, Gaius Sertor Orbus starts the novel as Camp Prefect (‘Praefector’) of Rome’s XII Legion – before a tragedy and moment of all-too-human weakness cause his life to fall apart at the seams.
Broken down to nothing, and bereft of the institutions that gave him meaning, Orbus is propelled on a maudlin yet revelatory journey of self-discovery… and is forced to confront who he really is.
A Centurion in the XII’s elite First Cohort, Iulus Cascana stands as Orbus’ closest friend and ally. A gentleman of the patrician class and a battlefield hero to his Century, Cascana’s quietly-competent star seems only on the rise.
But all life is change, and as their paths diverge and loyalties shift, Orbus and Cascana’s familial bond will be tested to the limit. Can their friendship survive the turmoil and revelation to come?
(And yes, I’ve seen the goddamn typo. No, I’m not re-snapping the image. Sue me)
A lifelong member of the Roman Senate, Decius Octus Urbanus serves as Legate of the XII Legion. His ironclad devotion to military discipline is matched only by his unswerving loyalty to Rome’s Emperor; a loyalty that will place him at the forefront of a brewing calamity.
When war beckons, he is forced to call upon a disgraced Orbus once more. But whether the two officers can bring themselves to trust each other again is another matter entirely.
A loyal veteran of Cascana’s Century, Titus Argias has grown into an talented, if jarringly earnest, legionary. When Cascana volunteers him to join Orbus’ new Cohort of men, Argias thinks nothing of taking this leap, agreeing to serve as an optio.
But the auxilia will soon prove a different challenge to the familiar vigour of Legion life, and Sertor Orbus will turn out to be like no commander Argias has never known before. As life changes and new challenges arise, will Argias rise to the occasion?
The older Orbus brother forewent his family’s military tradition, instead retiring from the chaos of Rome to the pleasure town of Baiae. There, he runs a resort overlooking the Bay of Naples, battling to feed his slaves and keep rents coming in.
Yet beneath his seemingly jovial everyman façade, conviction burns. Sextus still nurtures Republican dreams – dreams that cost their father all he had. Here, now, they may still drive him into recklessness… and may yet lead his younger brother astray.
A young woman from the region of Etruria, Merope has lived all her adult life as Orbus’ slave and courtesan. Finding herself in the role of friend and confidante, she can only look on and listen to her master’s troubled secrets.
But as Orbus’ life falls apart and his own sense of self begins unravelling, Merope is forced to question how long this dynamic can go on. And just what parts they play in each other’s lives.
The XII’s First Spear, Sallus Thracian stands as most pre-eminent Centurion in the Legion. His might and acumen have carried him far, with his equestrian connections set to take him further still. Only his greed, ambition and immorality tell a very different story, as a great many men in the XII have come to realise…
While Urbanus may remain blind to his ploys, Thracian will stop at nothing to slake his greed and thirst for power. Nobody – not Orbus, Cascana, or anyone else as foolish – will come between him and what he wants.
A hoplite from the province of Achaea, Arxander and his comrades have fought for Rome’s Empire for many long years. Their Cohort of auxilia has earnt the XII Legion’s grudging respect, with many of their number being awarded Roman citizenship for their exploits.
But when Orbus, stripped of his Legion rank, is assigned to command their Cohort, Arxander and his Achaean countrymen are forced to adapt to a wholly different future. And some new, rather intriguing reinforcements…
Gaius Civilius Optatis is no stranger to soldiering – having served in the IX Legion for almost twenty five years before his dishonourable discharge. His life and career since then have been somewhat less happy, reduced to demeaning camp work, bereft of the privileges of army life.
Seeing service in Orbus’ auxilia as another chance at glory – as well as a way to amend the wrongs in his past – Optatis finds himself taking up arms once more, aware that this time, there will be no second chances.
Bydreth ap Uîth
A former tribal scion from the faraway land of Britannia, Bydreth’s future, and that of the whole Ulthaini tribe, was stolen away by the manacles of Roman slave traders. Growing to manhood under the brutal aegis of slavery, Bydreth’s kin look set to live out their days as circus attractions – painted freaks and strays to gawk and laugh at.
But Bydreth’s spirit refuses to be bowed, looking forever to the future. And then he meets Sertor Orbus, a kindred spirit, who offers them a radically different future indeed…
Brauda ap Uîth
Sharing neither Bydreth’s faith in the new path Orbus offers them, nor his cousin’s easy and charismatic way with people, Brauda finds himself at a crossroads in more ways than one. Resentful of forever living in Bydreth’s shadow, and unwilling to let go of his former Celtic roots, the Ulthaini freedman is forced to dig deep to discover what truly matters to him.
But doubts and misgivings do not a poor warrior make, and new worlds are poised to open up to Brauda. If only he can surrender to the journey…
A lifelong criminal haunting Rome’s seedier districts, and more recent inmate of the Carcer, Molchis at first seems a rather dubious candidate for the auxilia. With no arms, military training or shreds of morality to speak of, he appears to the rest of the Cohort as more of a hindrance than an asset – a rogue element that not even Orbus can truly vouch for.
Yet Orbus is no believer in pedigree, and vows to find a use for every man in his charge. As Rome slides closer towards brutal war, Molchis may well find himself with a vital part to play.
A lone warrior strides the sand of the Circus Flaminius, whose fortitude and skill at arms slaughters any foe unlucky enough to face him. To the crowds, he is known by many names. The Gutter Prince. The Chained One. To his masters, he is simply Vinculex. A man with no history, whose past is as riddled with tragedy as his body is wracked with chronic pain.
Forsaking the mantle of gladiator, and donning the armour of a soldier, Vinculex grudgingly marches to Orbus’ banner. On the plains of Gaul, he will face off against Rome’s enemies… and his own long-buried demons.
Iulus’ father Publius fought at Orbus’ side from the start, when the two of them joined the Roman army as fresh-faced tirones. Publius hails from the opposite end of Roman society; a patrician princeling whose ascent to the Senate was as inevitable as it was well-received.
Though Publius’ days of war and politics are long behind him, his legacy still hangs over Orbus and Cascana’s friendship. Iulus strives to emulate his father’s deeds, while Orbus hopes to steer him away from his father’s mistakes.
An orphaned heiress from one of Rome’s oldest patrician families, Aemilia of the Volscanii lives an isolated existence as a ward to two guardians; a life of utmost privilege, yet with almost no freedom of her own.
Having recently come of age, she finds herself an unwilling gamepiece in Rome’s dynastic politics, as Legate Urbanus seeks to court her family’s influence. That game will lead her, inevitably, to Sertor Orbus, and a partnership neither member can stomach or tolerate.
Ignatian was once a hero of the Roman Empire – one of the Emperor’s most trusted Legati, earmarked to govern provinces or hold high office as consul. Until, however, he grew jaded with Augustus’ vision for Rome, and the endgame he believes the Empire is heading for.
Throwing off the fetters of Rome’s supremacy, Ignatian has led the remnants of his former Legion into open rebellion, denouncing Augustus as a tyrant and believing Rome’s future lies in a different state of being. But the traitor’s threat goes beyond the armies he can muster; his appointed purpose, that has led him to defy an Empire, and his voice, that has inspired thousands of others to turn against Rome…
There we have it.
So much for a shorter, lighter, breezier post. Although I’m sure you’ll welcome a return to actual novel-related content. I’ve got a few other ideas for similar on-topic posts, which you’ll see in the coming weeks.
Jury’s out when I’ll finally stick the Prologue on here, as 1000 (or even, realistically, 1500) hits may be too far in advance of the actual novel release.
Then again, I might change my mind. And without saying too much, I’ve got some other… content… that will be going online in the coming weeks/months.
Ssssh. No spoilers.