My latest bedtime fiction reading is Decebal Triumphant by Peter Jaska. This is the story of the early wars (85 – 99 A.D.) between the Romans and the Dacians. Unusually for a genre dominated by the Romans, this book focuses on King Decebal and the Dacian people. However, it doesn't ignore the Roman side of the story and examines the intrigues of Emperor Domitian and, at the end of the book, the rising military star named Trajan.
We don't know much about the Dacians, and the Romans wrote what we do know. This gives the author considerable scope to expand his description of Dacian life. Having said that, he keeps pretty close to the historical events.
We do know that the war was instigated by the Dacians raiding across the Danube into the Roman province of Moesia. They were pushed back, but subsequent invasions by the Romans were defeated. Most of these events took place during the rule of Emperor Domitian. The book does not paint a positive picture of Domitian. It's fair to say that he probably wasn't one of Rome's finest. However, his reputation is based mainly on the view of the Senate, who had good reason to hate him. He was undoubtedly a ruthless autocrat but perhaps not quite as inefficient as claimed.
The book covers all the actions during the wars and the intrigue in between. It is well written, and although some might find the lengthy description of Dacian life a bit much, it was sufficiently different to keep my attention.
Dacian armies had distinct elements from your average 'barbarian' forces on Rome's borders. They had decent cavalry of their own and excellent heavy cavalry provided by their Sarmatian allies. The Dacian falx's effectiveness surprised the Romans, who strengthened their helmets in response.
Warlord does a very good box of Dacians, although there weren't enough Falx figures for me.
|My 28mm Dacian warband, mainly from the Warlord box.|