The Light Bearer

Donna Gillespie, Author Berkley Publishing Group $15 (800p) ISBN 978-0-425-14368-1
Probably the greatest compliment to Gillespie's first novel is that at 800 pages, the book isn't too long. Spanning the years between A.D. 52-shortly before Nero's accession-and Nerva's accession in 96, the novel invokes tribal warfare, two tyrants, Domitian's terror, gladiatorial spectacles, blood vengeance, imperial intrigues and a mythic love. At the center is Auriane, the daughter of a Chattian chieftain fated to lead her tribe against Rome but also to disgrace it by murdering her father. On the other side of the Alps is Marcus Julianus, a philosophically disposed nobleman trying to salvage justice under the despotic Nero and Domitian. Marcus is haunted by his late father's vague records of a German warrior maid and the two finally meet when Auriane is captured in Domitian's Chattian campaign. Gillespie depends too much on the reader's indulgence when describing the lovers early meetings; they are portentous fated conjoinings rather than a naturally evolving attraction. But this is a quibble because the romance is secondary to the mature couple's greater, more pressing concerns. For anyone interested in this tumultuous period of Roman despotism and Germanic tribes, Gillespie's epic is an intriguing recording of everyday detail, national issues and, more impressively, overarching influences of religion and psychology. Advertising. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 08/29/1994
Release date: 09/01/1994
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FORMATS
Mass Market Paperbound - 1024 pages - 978-0-515-11966-4
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