a thread on the worldwide web The Official Website of Richard Reilly

The Official Website of Richard Reilly

Roman Roamin

Roman Roamin > How this novel was constructed

How this novel was constructed

Generally speaking, this novel is a series of overlapping arcs. Each arc represents a main character or event. I imagine them shot like arrows from a bow, landing somewhere in the distance, but not in the same spot. I shoot the arc of Marcus in the air, then Cneve/Lucumo, then Tanaquil, then Arruns, then the Etruscan League Proposal -- and they fall to earth at different points along the timeline. The Proposal ends when it is delivered to village elders of Roma. Lucumo's arc ends when he is murdered. Tanaquil's end follows sometime after. And so on. But in the meantime, new arcs are shot into the story: the next generation of children; the visit with the Sibyl; the order to destroy Alba Longa; the flood of Greeks into the West; and so on.

The action keeps moving as each new arc rises to maturity, gets dealt with, and is then replaced with another arc. This also propells the reader forward, eager to find out what happens next along this current storyline. Meanwhile, the reader is introduced to new storylines that will come to maturity later, and draw the reader further along the tale.

Since I am telling a true story, my plot is tied to actual events in the order they occurred. But it lies entirely in my providence to decide how to tell the story. With 120 years to cover, the reader needs a common thread to cling to throughout - and that is provided by two families: Cneve Tarchna and his descendants, and Marcus Junius and his descendants.

It is helpful that the first historical king and the last happened to have come from the same family (Lucius Tarquinius Priscus and Lucius Tarquinius Superbus). I simply backtracked from the historical Brutus to provide him with a grandfather, whom I named Marcus. I chose Marcus for the first-born name because the most famous Junius of all, the assassin of Julius Caesar, was named Marcus Junius Brutus, and he was the first born son - thus, the first born of the Junii family in every generation was named Marcus.
(For those confused by these common names, you should know that the Brutus who plunged a dagger into Julius Caesar lived five centuries after Lucius Junius Brutus of this novel.)

The friendship of Cneve and Marcus is entirely my device. I credit Marcus with forming the Roman Legion, though it probably had more organic origins: the legion may have evolved from a group of hunters into a military unit. I needed to explain why people feel a need to train in arms: it is a dangerous world, and slavery was a very real threat in those days. I also needed to find some way to explain how the early army came to be equipped in the hoplite fashion and organized by phalanx. History remains mute on the subject, so I gave it to Marcus and his handful of wizened Greek mercenaries.

There were several themes I wanted to impress upon the reader. The importance of metal to the ancient world cannot be over-emphasized. The Bronze Age was yielding to the age of iron, but only to those who possessed the secret knowledge of how to work with this superior metal. The wealth from metal bought culture, luxury and power. A second major theme is introduced by Demaratus: "everybody comes from somewhere else." When the power struggles begin, it is important to keep in mind that no group had a 'god-given' claim to their territory. The Etruscans pushed aside native Italian tribesmen when they came from Lycia, just as the Phoenicians pushed aside native Iberian (Spanish) tribesmen when they came from Tyre. Both resisted the Greek flood into "their" sphere of influence, and one day Rome would lay claim to it all.

Respond to this entry

If you wish to comment on this entry, the author would love to hear from you. Just click here, and send your comments via an email to the author. Your wisdom and insight might just form the basis of a future entry!