Fire In The Year Of Four Emperors
by Rick Deragon
an historical novel
(reigned January-April 69) maneuvers by betrothal to be the favored successor. Instead, Galba adopts a son, whom he lists as heir in his will. After Galba’s death at the hand of his bodyguards, the Senate declares Otho the emperor, but Vitellius, governor of Germania, and the northern legions are already moving south to claim the throne. Admitting defeat after battle, Otho commits suicide in disgrace.
(reigned June 68-January 69) assumes power after a revolt led by the governor of Gaul and Nero’s suicide. He refuses to pay the Praetorian Guard, the emperor’s bodyguards, even after they threw their support behind him rather than Nero. The ambitious Otho gains support of the Guard, and conspires to kill Galba in the street.
(reigned April-December 69) generates unbridled allegiance from his troops with widespread profligacy and lax rules. He defeats Otho in an epic battle, but then Vespasian’s forces arrive from the Middle East, claiming their leader is a better choice for emperor. After another heroic battle, Vespasian’s victorious soldiers descend on Rome where they find and kill Vitellius.
is a Batavian chieftain and 25-year veteran commander of the Batavian Auxiliary in Britannia. Imprisoned for two years for sedition, he finally walks free in 69. Chafing under the Roman occupation of Batavia and their extraordinary policy of conscription, Civilis leads a revolt against the Roman forts and settlements of the north, employing a huge army of disaffected German, Belgic, Gallic tribes.
(reigned December 69-June 79) knows Julius Civilis from their days as Roman officers fighting in Britannia. He takes command of forces occupying Syria, Judea, and Egypt after the Great Jewish Revolt occurs in 66. In 69, Vespasian’s faithful troops defeat the northern troops, and kill Vitellius. Vespasian becomes the emperor, and begins the Flavian Dynasty.
is a prophetess of the Bructeri; this priestess predicts the initial success of the revolt staged by Julius Civilis. Veleda is considered a goddess, a deity, to the extent that tribes from Germania to Belgica seek her arbitration in civic conflicts, and take on faith her auguries. Ulla in this novel is a reflection of the Veleda ethos and the promise of its perpetuation.
is hired by the Roman Senate to take Julius Civilis back to the north in order to set up training camps of selected warriors who will be used for senators’ private armies. The Senate pays Marius a small fortune to ensure the plan’s success. A former centurion and comrade-at-arms of Civilis (Rokus) in Britannia, Marius succumbs to money and the promise of land.
Painting courtesy of Sergey Popovichenko.
© 2016 Rick Deragon. Music used by permission of the artist © Patrick O'Hearn, 2005