The author of Dominic (1991)—a grue-streaked tale about a dwarf in and around the decaying fourth-century Roman Empire— offers another adventure in roughly the same venue in the early fifth century. Robinson's story this time, waterlogged with wildly anachronistic dialogue and mind-sets, is based on the true history of Galla Placidia (``Dia''), daughter of the Emperor Theodosius and sister of Emperor Honorius, who marries King Atauf (here, ``Atawulf'') of the Visigoths. The opening execution of a treasonous cousin, regally witnessed by Dia, is fairly grisly, but except for occasional slash-and-slice warfare, this mainly tells how the Roman princess learns to stop waxing imperial all the time, to recognize good Goths, and unexpectedly to fall in love. About to be assaulted when the rampaging Goths sack Rome, Dia is rescued by Atawulf, brother of Gothic King Alaric. Once cleaned up after a bloodbath, Atawulf stirs a spark (``The hard terrain of his muscled arms...brought to mind the contained heat of a volcano''). On the long road south to Sicily, Dia meets the king and his sensible female relatives and, eventually, begins to be at one with her captors; after the death of Alaric and a ragged retreat, she will invite the army into Hadrian's villa to recover. It's here that Dia and Atawulf finally make thunderous love. A shaggy captive-princess saga set in a not-often-utilized period of history. Gory Dominic had more pep and variety.
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