Written by John Sawney
Published by Fireship Press LLC
Review by Tracey Skeine
Synopsis from Amazon:
It is the fifth century AD, in the former Roman colony of Britannia, where civilization has all but disappeared. Some vestiges of the old infrastructure remain in the urban south, but the west and north are wild and lawless. Plague sweeps through the entire country, leaving thousands dead in its wake. Eiteol, a cloddish and apathetic nobleman, saves the dictator Vertigern from an assassination attempt. The two go on the run, and as time goes on Eiteol finds himself called upon to do things he finds more and more morally repugnant. Deep down he knows that Vertigern is a monster, and that he should walk away, but for reasons he does not understand he finds himself bound to the man whose life he has saved. Their flight takes them into the barbarous west—where money has no value, the law has no power and murder is a daily reality—and they are forced to look for shelter in a country that is falling apart around them.
Years ago I read a historical novel about post-Roman Britain, and I enjoyed it enough that I was drawn to read The Ruin by John Sawney. I’m glad I did. I’ve had an interest in Roman influences in Britain, having been to Bath in England, and Sawney’s novel covers that period with well-researched details. It is interesting to read about how lawless certain parts of Britain became after Rome, and it reminds me of certain recent events—the London riots being one. While the setting of this story is historical, it is surprisingly modern in its observations about human nature, which is what good historical fiction does—point out the similarities between then and now. Everyone has ambitions, and everyone has to make choices. What will happen between Vertigern and Eiteol? How will the anarchy surrounding them affect them? Who is in charge when no one is in charge? You will need to read The Ruin to find out.
I would recommend The Ruin to those with an interest in Rome’s influence in Britain and early British history.
Tracey Skeine received her B.A. degree in English Literature in June 2012. She is still working on her first novel set in Caesar’s Rome.