Richard Blake’s ‘Aelric’ books are a series of adventure novels set in 7th-Century Europe. There are many books written about Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome. The Aelric books are set later, at a time rarely written about. Rome has fallen to the barbarian invaders, but has remarkably survived as a city – it is now almost completely ruled by the Christian Church. The capital of the Empire is now Constantinople and the Empire is under pressure from the Persians in the East. The Slavs are invading Greece and there are various other bands of barbarians such as the Avars about, looking for any opportunity to move in and take booty.
The Church based in Rome is still on speaking terms with the Christians of the East based in Constantinople, but there are differences in their approaches to religion which will obviously cause friction later on. And there are also rumours of a new religion spreading out of Arabia. So it is a time of great change in the Empire.
Into all of this, add a young Englishman, Aelric. He’s tall, blond, good-looking, intelligent and not too bad with a sword either. Aelric is English rather than British – that is, he is a member of the Germanic races that a few hundred years earlier took England from the Celtic Britons. Getting into a spot of bother with one of the local chieftains over the matter of the chief’s daughter, he flees to the Continent and travels to Rome. The Romans can make nothing of his Anglo-Saxon name, so they call him ‘Alaric’ and he is almost always known by this name. We will use this name for him from this point onward in this Entry. He rapidly gets involved in a series of plots involving murder, treason and the future of the Empire.
The books are full of historical facts and give a very good impression of what it would have been like to live at that time. They are also full of sex and violence, which is probably equally historically accurate, but the sheer amount of it may be off-putting to some. Alaric loves sex and doesn’t care who he does it with, male or female, slave or citizen. And the violent scenes can be extremely graphic – there are torture scenes, public impalements and wholesale slaughter. While Alaric himself has a keen sense of justice and tries to treat people fairly, those he deals with are not so high-principled and many people die along the way.
The books are interesting, exciting and funny if you can stomach the violence in them.
The first book was published in 2008 and there have been a steady stream of them at a rate of one per year since then. So far there have been six books. Alaric lives to a grand old age and eventually as an old man starts to tell the story of his life, so the story can tend to jump around a bit – he doesn’t always tell events in exactly the order they happened, which can lead to some tense excitement.
Books in order of publication by series:
|Conspiracies of Rome||2008|
|The Terror of Constantinople||2009|
|The Blood of Alexandria||2010|
|The Sword of Damascus||2011|
|The Ghosts of Athens||2012|
|The Curse of Babylon||2013|
|How I write Historical Fiction: Advice from a Practitioner||2014|
|Game of Empires||2015|
|Death in Ravenna||2015|
|Crown of Empire||2016|
|A Bullet Through Texas||2016|
|The Devil’s Treasure||2017|