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Monday 20 January 2020

✉ Like This... Or Like That? The Celtic Fervour Saga by Nancy Jardine

Today author takes over our blog to tell us about her  latest Historical Fiction Saga, Celtic FervourAgricola's Bane (, Ocelot Press, 328 pages), is the fourth and latest instalment in the series.

"The fourth novel in the Celtic Fervour series is standalone, although I highly recommend the first three books to gain more insight into the Garrigill characters and back story. [...] As I've come to expect with a Nancy Jardine novel, the narrative is full to the brim with fascinating insights and historical details." ~ Lynn Pool (Ellesea)

"In this historical novel, the author skilfully blends Roman history with her best guess as to what conditions and opposition the legions of governor of Britannia, Agricola, would have encountered in his brief foray northwards into the heart of modern day Scotland. [...] A great read that's loaded with carefully researched detail, placing the reader at the northern most extreme of Roman Britannia in the first century." ~ Tim Walker

|| Synopsis || Teaser: KCR Preview || The Series || Author Guest Post || Author Q&A || About the Author || Giveaway & Tour Stops ||

Like this…or like that? The Celtic Fervour Saga

Historical fiction is generally about a known historical figure.  Copious research allows the author to create an interpretation of their character to slot into the plot and backdrop of their novel.  Multiple prime sources for study mean more chances for the author to choose particular aspects to endow their character with in their fictional version.  On the other hand, when writing about a historical character who lived during a pre-historic era, the task becomes a matter of deduction, if there’s little written about them.

The Fiction

In my Celtic Fervour Saga, set in late 1st Century A.D. north Roman Britain, I invented a ‘Celtic’ Late Iron Age Clan whose members become refugees when the Ancient Roman legions invade their Brigantia territory (north England).  They are created from general research of the era but from Book 1 onwards, genuine historical Ancient Roman military generals are mentioned in passing during events.

The Facts

However, it’s only the historical figure of General Gnaeus Iulius Agricola who becomes a fictional character in Books 4 and 5 of the series. (Book 5 due Spring 2020)

The main (and almost only) source for General Agricola is the Ancient Roman writer Cornelius Tacitus. Tacitus was Agricola’s son-in-law but he mentions very little of Agricola’s nature in the ‘Agricola’.  Agricola began his military career in Britannia and was then posted to Asia Province where he, apparently, deplored the endemic corruption.  That hints to Agricola having some moral scruples.  His career continued a mix of administrative and military posts, indicating Agricola was competent and sufficiently committed. By circa A.D. 77, he became Governor and Commander of the armies of Britannia.  Tacitus claims Agricola was a dedicated and proficient ‘pen pusher’ who attempted to eliminate bribery and who established fair practice across the province.  This is written from the Roman perspective, of course, yet it gives me some insights into his personality.

Agricola was a resolute military commander who intended to invade and control the whole island of Britain. An ambitious plan but one he didn’t quite achieve.  There’s archaeological evidence that Agricolan forces reached the Moray Firth area of Scotland, though they didn’t remain there very long.  That’s a great recipe for disappointment and frustration for my character.  Since there are no other references to dispute or corroborate Tacitus, I base some of my Agricola’s temperament on the few crumbs Tacitus has thrown my way!

Agricola spent seven years in Britannia as Governor and Commander of the armies, having served almost twice the length of most predecessors.  From A.D. 81, Emperor Domitian constantly withdrew army units from Britain, deployed them in Germany, and later in Romania (Dacia circa A.D. 83).  Starved of troops, Agricola had to claw back on invasion and settling plans.  I imagine by A.D. 84 the real Agricola had become a bit worn down, disappointed and disgruntled at not being a ‘valued member of the Empire’s team’.  Some of those vulnerabilities are amplified in Agricola’s Bane.  Ancient Romans being extremely religious and superstitious, my Agricola feels abandoned not just by Domitian but also by his favoured gods and goddesses.  He’s a lovely man, but at a very vulnerable period of his life.

According to Tacitus, Agricola was recalled back to Rome, probably early A.D. 85.  Although relatively young at 45, he chose not to take up any other important post around the empire and went back to his family estates at Narbonensis (Frejus in France).  He died aged 53.  One theory is that after going home, he continued to be seriously unpopular with the increasingly irrational Emperor Domitian.  Perhaps Agricola chose to stay out of the firing line?  It’s also speculated that Domitian sent doctors to tend to an ailing Agricola but who may actually have murdered him!

This was a sad end for someone who probably had a shining career in Britannia and only a poor show of appreciation for it but…we only have Tacitus’ opinion on that.

In Agricola’s Bane, the Caledon Allies, including my Garrigill warrior clan, are also regularly wearing my Agricola down by creating merry hell while he’s in northern Caledonia - of course, that’s just my fictional deductions!

Thank you for inviting to your blog today!

Agricola's Bane
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1 comment:

Nancy Jardine Author said...

Thank you for sharing my guest post today! It's much appreciated. :-)