No Turning Back

Well, dear reader, you’ve been with me through the founding of  Eboracum (York) and through the struggles of the families on both sides of the war for Northern Britain. I thought our time in ancient Eboracum was finished, but apparently, it’s not.

As you know, the Eboracum trilogy is a first century saga that spans the first thirty-five years of Eboracum’s history, from its founding as a fifty-acre timber fortress, to when it was completely rebuilt in stone. It was a story that followed three generations of both a Roman and a Brigante family, people of two vastly different cultures who, for the most part, accepted, if not necessarily assimilated, over a fairly short period of time. As the trilogy’s original characters reached old age, their stories had been certainly told. It was a good time to stop and move on to other things.

So I did.

I wrote three other books with absolutely no relation to ancient times. I wrote about federal politics using fiction to highlight the need for reform. I wrote about an accountant who is caught up in an interesting state of “affairs.” I wrote a memoir. But with every story I brought to life, Eboracum was demanding I give it more time too.

The old Roman fortress was always there at the back of my mind. However, where could I go with the story? My characters had done enough in their lives and deserved a rest. I needed someone and something fresh to write about. Then, an idea came to me. I had centuries of history to pull from and I had started at the beginning – writing about Eboracum’s founding by the Romans. What about writing about the inevitable Roman abandonment?

I skipped forward three hundred years for the ‘rest of the story’, and last week released Eboracum, No Turning Back.

The background: Rome finally withdrew all troops from Britain in AD 407 because she was stretched to the limit at home by treachery and violence, both internal and external. By AD 476, the Western Empire would collapse. The abandonment of Eboracum was a big story along the way, one that was likely just as traumatic as the original invasion, though, of course, not as well documented. Just over three hundred years after arriving at Eboracum, in AD 387 the Romans began withdrawing troops. Twenty years later, they were gone.  However, they left behind a fortress and town that, by the time of the Renaissance, had grown to be England’s second city.

Roman floor mosaic illustrating the Romulus and Remus myth.

Roman floor mosaic illustrating the Romulus and Remus myth. Discovered at Aldborough (Isurium Brigantum) near Leeds, North Yorkshire (formerly West Riding), UK. Exhibited at Leeds City Museum. Photo Credit: By Linda Spashett Storye book (Own work) [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

For an author, there are many threads here to pick up and start weaving into stories. In terms of time, Rome left over a relatively short period—twenty years.  I wanted to write about that. How did the locals deal with this? What about their families, both Roman and Briton. Who were they, who stayed, who left? What dangers did they face? How did they get by? And, of course, how did the ever-expanding Christian church fit in with all this? (Oddly enough, the archeology around York shows more signs of a continuing ability to function after the Romans left, than most other parts of Briton.)

The Roman withdrawal must have been an interesting time; a momentous time to create two more families.  As before, one would be that of a Roman, the other would be that of a Briton.  One would stay behind…with no turning back; and the other that of a Briton, who manage to prevail, and keep going.  Beset on all sides, a new era was starting…  Another trilogy?  Hmm…  Eboracum, No Turning Back, might just be the first volume of three. The second book has already been started…

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