A historical novel about Queen Boudica and the Iceni uprising from author Burch (Angels and Vampires, 2013).
It’s 60 A.D., and the Roman Empire extends westward to Brittania. Famously organized and militarily powerful, the Romans have a fairly secure hold on the local people. As Nero goes about his personal madness in the capital, the outreaches of the empire are relatively tranquil. Or so it might seem. After the suspicious death of her husband, Prasutagus, the fierce and beautiful Queen Boudica, leader of the Iceni tribe, is shocked to find the empire annexing her land. In answer to her protest, Boudica is flogged while her daughters are raped. If there were ever a time for the Iceni to rebel against the occupiers who instill harsh punishments and humiliating taxes, this would be it. There is, though, the thorny issue of the queen’s lover. Retired Centurion Marius Marcellinus is not only a respected soldier and master horseman, he is in love with the rebel queen. Can these two maintain their relationship as the world around them erupts in warfare and all varieties of degradation (from rape and pillaging to roasting small children and beheading corpses)? Thoughtful in its creation of a forbidden romance, the integration of Romans and locals is entirely plausible even if later bloodshed might suggest otherwise. Dipping into the sexually explicit (“ ‘Too many conquests that took his finest parts and wore them out,’ thought the queen as she took his broke dick and gave him a blowjob and the general spanked her buttocks”), the relationships of characters from many different worlds tend to be physically consummated. While physical pleasures and savageries permeate, grandiose blocks of dialogue slow momentum; e.g., “Thank you, brave Iceni warriors, for getting me safely to Verulamium. My twenty horsemen from Brigantines will take me to my army of four thousand countrymen waiting just outside the colony.” As the pace picks up in a final battle, readers familiar with the story of Queen Boudica will know what happens, though her fictionalized fate will come as a well-planned surprise.
As erotic and violent as one would expect for a story of Ancient Rome and rebellion, the book offers a humanizing rendering of the infamous Queen Boudica.