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The Pict by Jack Dixon
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The Pict

by Jack Dixon

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I was glad to find another novel on Roman Britain from the natives' point of view. This novel tells of Calach [Galgacus, as the Romans call him] from his boyhood in which he first comes into contact with evil; is accused of something he did not commit and acquitted; through his personal tragedies and years leading a federation of Pictish tribes offering stiff resistance to the Roman menace. The brutal Romans [and I admit that they were, although I am a lover of Roman fiction,] under Governor [and General] Agricola, first destroy a Selgovae village then build a series of forts to the north. Then the united Picts defeat the Romans through several guerrilla actions. At Mons Graupius Agricola is not able to conquer the land and to subdue this courageous people. The author paraphrases Calath's morale-boosting words to his troops and his strong words to Agricola, both from Tacitus originally. As Calath boldly says to Agricola in their face-to-face meeting: since you Romans have to write everything down, "you are slaves to your posterity". The Romans finally depart and leave these brave people in peace.

I really can't comment on the Gaelic names, except Suemas should have been Seumas. The XXth Legion wasn't headquartered at Viroconium as the novel would lead a reader to believe; however, there was a garrison there. The author should have made that clear. I wondered if some of the smaller tribes' names were really accurate. The strong points of the novel was not the writing style--quite ordinary--but the story itself and empathy I felt for the Picts. I liked the author's explanation of the Picts' appearance: the blue color mixed with ash. The author's narration of their origin and migration from Scythia to Ireland to their final homeland in the highlands of northern Scotland was probably just as valid as anyone else's; all we can do is speculate. The author created a convincing persona for Calach. ( )
  janerawoof | Jul 17, 2015 |
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