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News from a wargamer with a special interest in the military history of the Balkans. It mainly covers my current reading and wargaming projects. For more detail you can visit the web sites I edit - Balkan Military History and Glasgow & District Wargaming Society. Or follow me on Twitter @Balkan_Dave
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Wednesday 5 April 2023

Decebal Triumphant

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.


  1. Nice. I do have some 15mm Dacians somewhere for DBA. As you suggest, the army cries out for Sarmatian allies. The falxmen are also a nice change from yet more tribal spearmen.
    With hindsight, if I’d been the Dacians I’d have kept my head down and avoided annoying the might of Rome.

    1. I suspect the lure of Dacian gold would have been too great for the Romans whatever the provocation!

  2. Wrt the Warlord Dacian box, I ended up bending some of the plastic swords into additional falxes. Not the prettiest but ok from a distance.

    1. That's an idea. Better than trying to stick something on.

    2. FWIW - Essex Miniatures do a rhomphaia in their 28mm weapons range (item X50) and it’s virtually identical to the Dacian falx 😉