Monday, May 02, 2011

De Bello Lemures

I’m not into zombies. Occasionally, I will read such a story but I would not actively look for it. I will much more likely choose vampires, or werewolves, or even angels… I don’t know why. Maybe it’s the lack of glamour in the zombies’ condition, the unspeakable tragedy of it, the fact that I cannot see them as true characters any more than a force of nature bringing disaster would be.

However, I did not hesitate one moment when buying “De Bello Lemures – or the Roman War against the Zombies of Armorica” written by Lucius Artorius Castus and translated and edited (wink!) by Thomas Brookside. I had made up my mind to buy it even before I read the fragment available online. I was sold on by the title, by the fantastic cover (when in Rome, I have put my hand inside that mouth – la Bocca della Verità, the Mouth of Truth – and it didn’t bite my hand!) and by the idea.

From the cover:

A recovered Latin text tells the story of a struggle between Roman legionaries and the undead in 185 AD.

Lucius Artorius Castus leads an expedition to Gaul to defeat a rebellion against the rule of the Emperor Commodus – and gets more than he bargained for when his enemies rise from the dead to fight again. The power of the zombie horde is amplified by the Babel of Ancient Rome’s religions and superstitions, and the terror the undead bring in their wake foreshadows the incipient medieval darkness already creeping into the world at the end of Rome’s Antonine age. Richly annotated, this mashup of survival horror and alternate history takes the reader on a bracing journey into one of ancient Rome’s dark corners.

Maybe I’m not thrilled by zombies but I certainly am by ancient history and especially by the history of the Roman Empire. Therefore, a combination of the two seemed especially intriguing to me.

I was not disappointed.

Thomas Brookside’s short novel/novella reads exactly as he has intended – a commander’s first-hand account of a Roman military campaign gone awry. The abundance of editor’s annotations does not hinder, it completes, giving the whole a taste of authenticity that makes the story just as real as any recorded by, let’s say, Dio Cassius. In fact, for me, the writing style and all the details, from military techniques to country living in the Roman Gaul, made the suspension of disbelief so high that I not once thought of the zombies (the lemures) as creatures of fantasy or of the story as anything else but a recovered anc manuscript.

In short, I loved it and I highly recommend it.

“De Bello Lemures” is self-published on Amazon’s CreateSpace and Kindle.

Thomas Brookside blogs at Annotated Horror. He has two other books out that are quite tempting to me…

Here's the excerpt from “De Bello Lemures” from Google Docs: