I suppose I should reveal that Corrina Lawson is a friend. But that doesn’t change the fact that she tells a whopping good tale.
Lawson plunges into the realm of alternate history and has created a very intriguing combination. In her world, the Roman Empire has not fallen, and it has, instead, expanded its reach even into the Western Hemisphere. But the Romans are not the only Europeans who hae reached the region we call “New York State.” No, Vikings have also settled in the area, and have been there long enough to have mated with the natives and have a second generation (at least) grow to adulthood, a generation who have no real emotional connection to the European points of origin.
Into this world, we have Dinah, a Roman woman who had been trained as a spy ever shince she was sold into slavery as a girl. She is now a freewoman in the roman settlement of Seneca, trying to make a life for herself in difficult circumstances.
When Vikings and Mahicans attack Seneca – and then the Mahicans turn on the Vikings – Dinah is plunged into her former profession in order to try and save her new home.
Lawson very credibly imagines the clash of these three wildly different cultures. The engineering and military arts of the Romans, the spiritual/religious beliefs of the Vikings, and the deep connection to the vast untamed land they live in that the native tribes have, all these figure into transforming Dinah as she moves forward. Lawson very astutely never makes the appeal of the Different so strong that Dinah’s choices are easy. She very credibly shows how difficult it is for Dinah to consider major change.
The prose is a smooth read, holding the attention, providing just enough detail to intrigue but not so much that it bores. Each character, even minor ones, is well drawn and vivid. The reader gets a sense of depth, even when a character’s presence is peripheral.
This is a definite recommend. Try it, you’ll like it.
Note: there are adult sexual encounters in the story.