The Druid King
A major triumph of historical fiction, The Druid King, is a masterly retelling of the life of the legendary general Vercingetorix and his brilliant crusade against the Roman invasion of Gaul.Vercingetorix was both a man of myth and a real historical figure—he managed, where others had failed, to unite the tribes of Gaul and lead them against the might of the entire Roman empire.
After watching his father’s harrowing death, young Vercingetorix retreats to the forest where he learns the ways of the druids. Soon he must return to civilization to reclaim his birthright and his father’s honor, but the city of his birth has changed. Now, he must confront the greatest military power the world has even known--the Roman legions of Julius Ceasar. This is the story of Vercingetorix, Druid King of Gaul.
A distinguished science fiction author (Bug Jack Barron, etc.) turns to historical fiction with this sweeping but unremarkable tale of the myth-infused adventures of Vercingetorix, the greatest and last leader of the Gauls against the Romans under Julius Caesar. As a young man, Vercingetorix is forced into hiding after the execution of his father, who tries to usurp the leadership of the Gauls. Trained by the Druids in the arts of war and magic his teachers are the Arch Druid Guttuatr and the dazzling swordswoman Rhia, who has pledged to live as a virgin warrior Vercingetorix is visited by premonitions and dreams of his grand but tragic fate. When his learning is complete, he is manipulated into an alliance with a certain Gaius Julius Caesar, a master of war and intrigue, a leader with great ability and few scruples. Reasoning cleverly with the young man, Caesar also reintroduces him to his childhood love, the beautiful Marah. Vercingetorix is to become a client king through whom the Romans will rule Gaul, but when he realizes that his father's death was part of the plot, he turns ferociously against the Romans. The conclusion is a series of grand battle scenes interwoven with mystic visions. The author's sympathies are clearly with the Gauls, but he is balanced in his portrait of Roman and Gallic factionalism, and reconstructs a Celtic society without the worshipful attitude that marks many fictional treatments of those creative and valiant folk. It's a solid, intelligent effort but readers familiar with Spinrad's iconoclastic science fiction novels will find it disappointingly conventional, despite the mystical trappings. . The book won't flop as hard as the movie, but chances are it will be a harder sell than Spinrad's sci-fi.