This is the third and final volume of Napiers trilogy about Attila which started in the first volume with Attila being held as a young child as a hostage at the Roman Imperial palace. This was common as part of the bargaining of treaties at that time although there is no documented evidence to suggest that Attila did actually spend time in Rome in this manner. He then escapes and makes the long journey home with a young Greek friend Orestes who is based on a real life character who did serve as secretary in Attila’s court and who was in reality the man in control of the final years of the Western Roman empire with his son being regarded by many as the final true emperor of that line of the Roman empire.
Anyway this last particular volume describes the later portion of Attila’s life and his campaigns against firstly the Eastern Roman Empire and then subsequently the Western Roman Empire through his invasion of Gaul and then Italy itself and up until his and nemesis Aetius, the greatest Roman general of that time, deaths.
Whilst a lot of the story has fictional licence a lot of this volume clearly recounts many true historical events, although the historical accounts of much of these are clouded through the mists of time and it has meant I’ve done some research around the final falling of the Western Roman Empire which was interesting in particular highlighting some of the differences in opinion over the motives or not behind certain acts. Attila’s death for example has several different interpretations in the historical accounts, some claiming he died after a haemorrhage following a huge celebration, others that it was poisoning and others that in fact a new wife in fact stabbed him which is the version Napier chooses to depict.
Anyway – this is a pretty relentless read as no doubt was the author intention to continually pound the reader with one battle, siege, atrocity etc. after another which shows how both the invaded and the invaders no doubt felt through those campaigns.