I’m enjoying another dip into those days of the Empire, the Roman one. The third volume of M C Scott’s Rome series, The Eagle of the Twelfth, could well be the best so far. But she’s not finished and the next is on my list for 2013. She has the knack of weaving new characters and reintroducing earlier favourites. In this series some of those from her earlier Boudica Dreaming series give seamless continuity to the days of the empire. And in this volume she weaves her web wider.
But with Manda Scott it’s much more than writing. She lives the life. A previous career as a vet ensures that anything involving horses or hounds carries all the little details. But it is in her understanding of the the ways of those times, whether with the dreamers from isles off Wales, or the weapons and structure of the legions and their camps, that really bring these works to life.
She does much more than tell a tale. Research is meticulous, going as far as spending time in a roundhouse, or learning the art of Roman sword-making, driving in harness even, to bring authenticity. It might be not be travel writing but it’s all about people and places, just in a different time. I’m enjoying it greatly.
And my ears perked up last week, when I heard Romans and Empires on a radio discussion. I was promised that a programme on Sunday night would be unmissable. Dan Snow was right.
For we were treated to new discoveries of those Empire days, using modern technology. Satellite images were scrutinized to find things we didn’t know existed; and then we had CGI images of what it may have looked like back then. The bridge over the Danube, those ship sheds in the port outside Rome, now miles inland, were stunning.
Dan Snow has created a position as presenter of history, and an authority on so many aspects of war and battle. He is an enjoyable host.
But what grabbed my attention, whilst I was reading of Rome, was his roots in North Wales, not far indeed from where Manda Scott had done much of her learning, in that corner where Angelsey sits off the coast. For Dan’s mother hailed from Criccieth. Now there’s a place to go for an ice cream, a paddle along the shore even. Funny how it keeps cropping up this year.