Collins (Double Redemption, 2012, etc.) delivers an imaginative look inside ancient Rome through the eyes of a psychic druid.
In this novel, mystical traveler Harra travels to many lands, including ancient Ireland, China and Rome, confronting robbers, harsh weather and people who judge him for being a druid. During his search for fulfillment, he falls in love with Alba, one of Rome’s vestal virgins, and a Romeo-and-Juliet–style romance ensues. However, soon after meeting Alba, he has a vision of her being persecuted in the future for breaking her oath of chastity—a horrible ceremony that includes her being flayed alive and imprisoned in a cave until she dies. Once he realizes that the vision could be coming true, Harra does everything he can to protect her. Over the course of the novel, the reader follows Harra’s adventures for over 15 years, and Collins is adept at moving the action along. Harra’s visions provide effective foreshadowing as he decides whether to intervene and change the course of his and others’ fates. The novel unfortunately has a tendency to provide too much detail at times, which can bog down the narrative (as when it notes each meal that Harra eats or how long it takes him to walk to a particular location). However, when the author focuses on Harra’s quest to absorb the best life has to offer, such as learning combat skills or training in Eastern and Western medicine, he involves readers and draws them deeply into the story.
An enjoyable and suspenseful story of ancient Rome.