The Roman legions were trained to the highest peak of military proficiency but they had one weakness. They were trained only for fighting on their own terms- and victory. This is an unusual story of defeat -- perhaps the first major defeat when the Germans forced renewal of war, at the behest of Arminius, who had been sent to Rome to be trained, who held the hate in his heart, stronger than the admiration, and who trained German mercenaries so that he might turn them against the Romans, when the time came. It is his story, but it is too the story of the Legions, out on the line of conquest, thinking German towns theirs for the taking. It is a tale of the legionnaires- and their officers, of Cinna, who was a sort of Roman Patton, of cowardice and courage. And always of brutality, in peace and war. Perhaps the remoteness of the period makes one read and know it with a kind of detachment. Gregory Solon, in a memorable first novel, makes you feel it too. This might be read as predecessor to Helen White's The Four Rivers of Paradise, a story of the sack of Rome, as a story of the turn in the tide of victory which made the sack of Rome possible. Solon is a writer to watch.