South of Burnt Rocks – West of the Moon

South of Burnt Rocks – West of the Moon
Lavena, the last survivor of Rome's plundering destruction in ancient Spain, must survive to the next sunrise and then try to unite far-flung villages and oust the Roman menace. Based on real events and ancient She-Warriors who fought alongside their men. Mighty Rome plunders everything of value and destroys anything left standing in the beautiful and rich land south of Burnt Rocks. We know it as Spain. Lavena, the last child of the strongest tribal leader in the area, must grow up fast, must choose between marriage to her favorite young man and children, or the life of a She-Warrior fighting side-by-side with the male warriors of her tribe – or even fighting alone. The crush of an invading Roman army forces her choices. Guided by the spirits of the dead, by her father’s favorite dog, and the courage of those with nothing left to lose, she takes a last stand against the Roman menace. Roman scout, Marcus, is ordered to try to find answers to unseen but real threats pestering his Roman army – scouts who never return, dead soldiers, deadly traps in the ground, and slaughtered bullocks. More than any of his masters, Marcus begins to understand the havoc Lavena has wreaked, but deeper yearnings drive him to find her for other reasons, to be with her. Based on actual characters of that time and place, South of Burnt Rocks – West of The Moontells that mostly true story lost to the fog of history.

Reviewed for Awesome Indies by Elizabeth Jasper

The daughter of  tribe leader Sinorix, Lavena is expected to learn how to work the land, to develop strength and fortitude and, as a ferocious female warrior, to lead her people into battle against the Romans should it becomes necessary. When governor Piso is recalled to Rome and a new governor takes his place, the precarious peace between the Romans and Celts is broken and the Celts are forced to defend their village, to no avail.  Lavena escapes and seeks help from nearby villages, where she discovers the Roman army is once again on the move.

Written with an engrossing breadth of detail about the Celts and the Romans, with a sympathetic slant towards the people on both sides of the conflict, and with a depth of knowledge that he imparts effortlessly to the reader, G J Berger has written a compelling story of adventure, fortitude, revenge and love.  The main characters stand out against a supporting cast of well-drawn minor characters.  Pacing is superb, driving the reader onwards.  G J Berger’s writing style is direct and pared down, as befits a book of this nature.  Descriptive passages are moving and show very well how the landscape is used in Lavena’s fight against the invaders, and the animals – -horses and dogs, add an extra dimension to the story.

For any reader who loves to sink into the distant past, this is a story that will not disappoint.

Books in this series:
Awesome Allshorts: Last Days, Lost Ways

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