Sunday, February 3, 2013

Rage Against the Dying Light

Rage Against the Dying Light
By Jan Surasky

219 pages,
Review by S. Marie Vernon for Pacific Book Review

Rage Against the Dying Light, by award winning author Jan Surasky, is a brilliantly written novel about Boudicca, Britain’s legendary warrior queen.  Boudicca led a fierce and vengeful Celtic rebellion against the Roman Empire during the first century.  While the Romans fought for greed, she fought for her country, her freedom and to avenge her young daughters violated by Roman soldiers when they swarmed her palace to overtake the Iceni kingdom.

Born an aristocrat of the Coritani Tribe, Boudicca is a princess destined to become a queen.  As a young girl she prepares for her duty.  She learns well the history, the culture and the traditions of the Celtic tribes.  She also enjoys her childhood playing Tag and Run and Hide the Boar’s Tooth with her brother. She gathers violets for Beltane, the Spring Rites Festival.  It’s her favorite festival.  She plays with friends on the beautiful countryside overlooking the Devon River that runs down to the North Sea.  Boudicca spends time among the oak trees in the Sacred Grove and ponders life, religious rites and omens.  She watches for the signs of the hare to foretell the future of the Celtic Race.  Before Boudicca was a queen, a wife, and a mother, she was a carefree princess of royal descent, loyal to her country and proud of her ancestors’ undefeated legacy and freedom.  Later on, her vengeful rebellion toward the Romans will serve to make her a monumental figure of British History.

Boudicca marries the powerful King Prasutagus of the Iceni Tribe.  They enjoy a bountiful royal life and are blessed with two daughters.  Prasutagus has formed a loose alliance with Rome as a client king who answers to them, but rules his kingdom independent of the Roman tyranny imposed on other Celtic tribes.  A century has passed since Julius Caesar conquered Gaul and attacked the Celtic mountain tribes of Germania: Boudicca’s flaming haired ancestors.  Caesar had vowed to conquer all the barbaric tribes of the British Isles.  After Tiberius, the mad Emperor, Caligula, reigned for a time then Claudius comes into power.  Claudius and the Roman Senate want to finish what Caesar started almost a hundred years ago: conquer all of Britain!  Each year more tribes fall under Roman rule as the empire expands.  Boudicca takes quiet notice.

After a long illness, Prasutagus dies and leaves half his kingdom to the Emperor of Rome and the other half to his daughters.  He believed they would be allowed to rule their kingdom and live in peace.  Prasutagus was wrong.  Little time passed before Roman soldiers overtake the palace and enslave the royal family.  Queen Boudicca is humiliated, severely beaten with a whip and her daughters are brutally raped by Roman soldiers.  It’s a vicious attack and seems a sacrilegious insult to the Iceni Tribe and their Gods.  Betrayed and outraged, Boudicca, barely recovered, declares war!  She gathers hundreds of thousands of Celtic warriors who resent oppression from Rome and no longer want to live like Roman pawns.  Their bloody rebellion lasts for months as they sack and defeat three major strongholds of Rome.  Londinium (ancient name for London), Verulamium (ancient name for St. Albans), and Camulodunum (ancient name for Colchester), are leveled and burned to the ground.  Boudicca is remembered as Britain’s first heroine, a powerful queen with flaming red hair, willing to fight to her death.

Rage Against the Dying Light is written from a Celtic view verses the traditional Roman accounts of Boudicca, unsympathetic to her cause.  In this historical fiction, Boudicca’s early years and motivations for her uprising come to vivid life winning, author Jan Surasky, the Eric Hoffer Award for Commercial Fiction as acknowledged in the US Review of Books.  This sensational story will speak to anyone who enjoys history and historical fiction.  And, it will speak, especially, to those who love history’s female heroines who are awe-inspiring, in their time and in ours, as this book is all the Rage!  Jan Surasky is a seasoned author and entertainment writer who currently is writing her next novel, Back to Jerusalem.

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