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Publisher's Summary

Historical action adventure in the style of Bernard Cornwell and Rosemary Sutcliffe, the Leader of Battles series breathes new life into Arthurian legend....
"My father was a warrior. He bade me fight..."
Britain, AD 427. Rome has abandoned the province, leaving it exposed to waves of barbarian invasions. To the west, savage pirates from Hibernia ravage the coastline. In the North, the crumbling defenses of the Wall cannot contain marauding bands of Picts as they sweep down from the highlands. Worst of all are the Saxons, the dreaded sea-wolves. Under their chiefs, Hengist and Horsa, they wish to drive out the native Britons and claim the entire island for their own.
Attacked from all sides, the Britons find a champion in the form of Ambrosius Aurelianus, the last of the Romans. A modest man, riddled with doubts and fears, Ambrosius reluctantly takes on the mantle of Dux Bellorum, Leader of Battles. Placed in command of Britain's only standing army, he fights to preserve the dwindling light of civilization while the treacherous High King, Vortigern, plots his destruction.
Set before the coming of Arthur, the first book of the Leader of Battles trilogy charts the rise and fall of post-Roman Britain's first great hero, and his desperate struggle to hold back the shadows threatening to engulf his country.
©2014, 2017 David Pilling (P)2017 David Pilling
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Ray Johnson on 02-24-18

Historical fiction? How about Historical Finest

This is an excellent historical novel that is clearly well researched. My 14 year old son (he's in college) loves this time period and he kept complimenting how accurate everything was. So kudos to Pilling for doing his due diligence. Leader of battles is a moving tale of a man swept up in events that are beyond his control. He is most reluctant and overwhelmed with his own self doubt. This story shows how he truly becoems a leader, as he battles for the Britons as their Dux Bellorum.

This has ties to the Arturian legends of old, and I normally am not a fan of Arthurian styled stories, but I glommed onto this tale with both hands and never let go. The book is well plotted and well paced, the characters are real, and they bleed red. You will find yourself transported back to a time when a man survived by the strength of his arm and quickness of his wit.

Pilling has a wonderful writing style, he is descriptive in a way that you become a part of the battles, and se every drop of blood, and hear the clanging of the swords. He creates realistic and believable characters.

Jenkins is a blast to listen to; he provides a lot of atmosphere with just his voice. He provides the tone and pace with a distinctive narrative.

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3 of 3 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By presterjohn1 on 05-16-18

A Pre-Arthurian Legend

This is a well-written prequel to the Arthurian age.

Pilling skillfully builds up a post-Roman Britain with its remnants of Roman order, the resurgence of Celtic tribalism and the timeless quest for power at any cost as exemplified in High King Vortigern's doomed pact with the Saxons.

Ambrosius might easily have been an obscure Roman nobleman left to live out his days in peace, but like it or not his was the duty to defend Britain against the invasion of the Saxon barbarians.

What the author does here is clever and perhaps somewhat overdue. He has not purged all magic from the story--one of his characters is a seer with a genuine gift for prophecy--but he has exploited the fascinating turmoil of post-Roman Britain and mined it for its dramatic potential. Add to that the presence of some of the most formidable characters in British literature--Arthur and his warriors--and you have a fascinating story, steeped in the equally fascinating period when Britain was deciding whether its future lay with Rome, with the strength of invading hordes or with its own native Celtic culture--or something that used them all to make a unique new socio-political entity unlike any seen before.

This is the world of Ambrosius: a Britain that stands on the edge of becoming... what?

It is easy to forget the death-pains of the old and the birth-pains of a new culture when you look back at the remove of 15 centuries, but in Pilling's hands, that future still seems undecided to the reader and has all of the hope, fear and wonder of the unknown.

Add to this incredible setting the birth of the legend that will be Arthur and you have an engaging story that makes you want to read on and see what will happen next. Pilling is not afraid to dispense with some of the familiar Arthurian tropes and will happily twist the familiar to more logical conclusions.

Pilling has a skill for creating believable characters in this changing world. Familiar names like Ambrosius, Vortigern, Arthur, Cei, Bedwyr become real people. His female characters (Sevina, Rowena, Morgana, etc.) are strong as they must have been, but they are not anachronisms; they are not 21st-century women transplanted to the 5th or 6th centuries--instead they are important players performing their part just as they really must have done.

I, for one, will very much look forward to seeing what Pilling does next with Arthur/Artorius!

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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