Wednesday, April 6, 2016

"Eagle in Exile"

Alan Smale writes science fiction and fantasy, currently focusing on alternate history and historical fantasy. His novella of a Roman invasion of ancient America, "A Clash of Eagles," won the 2010 Sidewise Award for Alternate History. Clash of Eagles is the first book in a trilogy set in the same universe.

Smale applied the Page 69 Test to Eagle in Exile, book two of The Clash of Eagles Trilogy, and reported the following:
Roman general Gaius Marcellinus is stranded in the wilds of thirteenth century Nova Hesperia -- our North America. His legion has been smashed by the ingenious and deadly attacks of the Iroqua and the Mississippian Culture, and now he finds himself trapped in the middle of an age-old war of vengeance between these two fierce nations.

Since the loss of his 33rd Legion, Marcellinus has made a precarious life for himself in the great mound city of Cahokia, on the banks of the Mizipi River. But soon more legions will arrive, and a Cahokia devastated by the Mourning War will not be able to resist the power of Rome.

Marcellinus is still Roman to the core. He has sworn his oaths, and will never raise his gladius against his own people. But somehow he has to prevent the destruction of Cahokia at Roman hands, and the loss of his new friends there.

For that, Cahokia must remain strong enough to stand up to Rome on its own terms. And for that, Marcellinus somehow has to engineer even a temporary halt to a war that has lasted for generations. But first he has to stop his nemesis, Sintikala, the woman who leads Cahokia’s Hawk Clan, from slitting his throat. On page 69:
“It has to stop, Sintikala. Because you don’t know, and nobody else remembers [the cause of the Mourning War] either, not Ojinjintka, not Ogleesha, not Kanuna. No one. It’s lost. The hatred lives on. What really happened all those years ago, nobody knows.”

[…] Sintikala spat on the ground at his feet. “And you think that if you talk to the Iroqua of this, they will stop fighting? You will tell them your long, sad tales of the past, and because of that they will bury the ax and we will have peace?”

“Someone must try.”

“Wanageeska, when you looked at the map in my old house and saw where the Iroqua were, you were the one who said we must push them back even farther. That even where they live now, the Iroqua are too close to us!”

“I did say that. But I was wrong. And I also told you a thing that I had only just then realized, that the Iroqua see Cahokia as the giant destabilizing threat. And about that I was right.”

He had lapsed into Latin for “giant destabilizing threat” but it hardly mattered. Sintikala had already pulled her knife from her sheath.
There’s a lot more to come in Eagle in Exile. Marcellinus and Sintikala face a terrifying journey to the heart of the Iroqua territory in the Great Lakes. Later on they will be forced to flee the length of the Mizipi, fight new enemies, and undertake a desperate quest into the Plains. And at any point, Rome’s new legions may arrive. But before all of that, Marcellinus has to persuade a great chief of Cahokia -- a woman he has growing respect and affection for -- that he deserves to live even one more day. And that may be one of the toughest challenges he has yet faced in Nova Hesperia.
Visit Alan Smale's website.

The Page 69 Test: Clash of Eagles.

--Marshal Zeringue