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Scourge of God: A Novel


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About the Author

William Dietrich is a novelist, Pulitzer-winning journalist, historian and naturalist.


When young Jonas Alabanda, "fluent in Greek and conversant in philosophy," is tapped to be part of a diplomatic mission to the Huns on behalf of his native Constantinople, he embraces the opportunity. What the envoy doesn't realize, however, is that the mission is a thinly disguised excuse to get close enough to Attila, the king of the Huns, to assassinate him. When the plot is exposed, most of the diplomats are sent back to Constantinople in disgrace, but one is crucified, and Jonas is enslaved by the Huns. Infuriated by the attempt on his life, Attila prepares to make war on the Roman Empire. Determined to free himself and a Roman slave girl taken on an earlier raid, Jonas is drawn into the epic battle between the Huns and their allies and the Roman Empire. Dietrich (Hadrian's Wall) has written a wonderful book with well-drawn, compelling characters, particularly those of Jonas and his enemy Skilla, a Hun warrior. The battlefield descriptions are so vivid that one can almost taste the dust in the air and hear the clash of swords and the screams of horses. Excellent and highly recommended.-Jane Baird, Anchorage Municipal Libs., AK Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

"Dietrich has written a wonderful book...Excellent and highly recommended."--Library Journal

Set in the dark final days of the Roman Empire, Dietrich's rousing fifth novel (after Hadrian's Wall, etc.) chronicles the bid of the charismatic Attila the Hun to conquer the West and dominate all of Europe. Standing in his way are the crumbling vestiges of the Roman Empire, now divided between West (Rome) and East (Constantinople) and still struggling with the adoption of Christian faith. The story of Attila's western march is given additional human dimension by a romance between Jonas Alabanda, a scribe assigned to an embassy mission to Attila from Theodosius II, emperor of the Eastern Empire, and Ilana, a gorgeous Roman taken by the Huns as a slave. Because of a foiled Roman plot to assassinate Attila, Jonas finds himself held hostage, but with the aid of a cunning and intrepid dwarf jester, Zerco, he manages to steal a legendary giant sword and upset Attila's plans and fortunes long enough for the Roman general Aetius to assemble the Germanic tribes into an effective defense force. Because the period is comparatively undocumented, the historical background is somewhat thin, and the standard-issue romance doesn't quite fill in the blanks. Still, the story unfolds swiftly and satisfyingly, and the confusing array of tribes and leaders are deftly presented-no mean feat. Agent, Andrew Stuart. (Mar. 18) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

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