Legionnaire is a gritty High Fantasy series set on the borders of the
far-flung Republic of Aquila. While political in-fighting and scheming are the
order of the day in the heart of the Republic, the borderlands are awash with
dangers only kept in check by the might of the legions. Fell magics, savage
peoples, and scheming empires all threaten the country Patrician Marcus
Venandus has sworn to defend using his wits, military strategy and his small
command of highly disciplined legionnaires.
Map of the Jeweled Cities
I'm very excited to present the map of the Jeweled Cities, site of Marcus' adventures starting with Legionnaire Book 3. For those of you looking for Amatista it is directly west of the sea monster's head in the lower part of the map. The map was painted by Chris L. Adams and so you can see just how talented he truly is, I'm including a side-by-side comparison of my original sketch and Chris' painting. If you'd like to see more of Chris' art, poetry and writing, check out his website at chrisladamsbizzaretales.com.
After a long and grueling fight in Angosto Pass, Marcus and his legionnaires finally catch a break. The Diamonte city of Malaquita is not only badly under garrisoned, it has no idea that the legion is on its doorstep. Yet driving out the Gota and capturing the city only creates more problems for the legion. The city is barren of supplies and could easily turn into a deathtrap if Marcus and his men remain to defend it, but if they can hold it through the coming harvests its strategic location will greatly bolster Amatista’s chances in the war. His only hope is to build an alliance with the most influential Gente in the city as he tried and failed to do in Morganita. His one tenuous asset to make this alliance happen is the cousin of the wife of his trusted friend, Senior Mago Efraín Estudioso, who married into the powerful Astrónomo family—but the Astrónomos have a terrible secret of their own that could transform them into Marcus’ vehement enemies. And now Marcus has accidentally spurned the high priest of Madre Tierra, making this one political seduction that seems destined to go very wrong!
Marcus and his legion have knocked Morgantia and
Granate out of the war, but that didn’t stop Diamonte from laying siege to his
adopted home of Amatista. The invading army is simply too large to confront
directly, so Marcus has determined to invade Diamonte itself to force his
enemies to break their siege and come defend their own homes. There’s only one
problem with the plan. Diamonte has an army of reinforcements heading through
Angosto Pass toward Amatista and a second army trailing after the legion trying
to catch it from behind. Can
Marcus blaze his way through the opposition or will he and his brave men be
trapped in a fire storm of their own making?
their impressive victories in the north, Prefect Marcus and the Black Hat
Legion stand alone against the full might of Diamonte and Aquamarina. With
their home city under siege and the cowardly Lord Totila refusing to lead his
host out from behind the walls of Centinela, it falls once again to Marcus to
protect his adopted homeland by himself. His only hope is to thread the needle,
maneuvering his legion across enemy-occupied Amatista to the one location that
might enable him to recapture the initiative in this war. It’s a risky gamble.
With multiple armies afield and none of them knowing where the others are, the
fate of Amatista will depend on Marcus’ ability to navigate the Fog of War.
With Prefect Marcus and the Black Hat Legion
still trapped in Morganita fighting against the treacherous Thegn Hathus of
Granate, it falls to Calidus Vulpes, Red Vigil of the Aquilan legions, to take
a thousand quiet Qing infantry men and fifteen hundred unruly Gente archers to
hold off the full might of Diamonte at Angosto Pass. The odds are thirty-to-one
against them. Can the Aquilan junior officer hold back the enemy until Marcus
and the veterans return, or will this prove to be Calidus’ final stand?
Days of rain force sane armies to hunker down to wait for dry weather. Yet, no one in the Jeweled Hills would accuse Prefect Marcus Venandus of being sane. Not only has he united the bickering Qing, Gente and Gota in his Black Hat Legion, he rarely embraces conventional military tactics. With three days of drenching weather turning roads to mud, flooding creeks, and bogging down his enemies’ carts and wagons, Marcus seizes the initiative and leads one thousand of his Black Hats on their most daring campaign yet. Can he use the Flood of War to sink the treacherous Thegn of Granate? Or will the rains wash away any chance of winning this war?
While Prefect Marcus Venandus struggles with the
Curse of Madre Tierra, the Gente of Morganita betray their alliance with the
Black Hat Legion and launch a surprise attack on Fort Prime. With all the
senior officers in the fort dead, the most junior of officers, Acting Magus
Seneca Liberus, finds himself in charge. With thousands of Gente massing to
continue the assault backed by the powerful mago House of Victor, it falls to Seneca
to measure up to the proud traditions of Aquila and lead his green legionnaires
Marcus has defeated the smaller half of the army of Thegn Chilperic by the skin of his teeth, but now he must rally his legion and its allies to stop the Thegn’s main force from rolling back all of his victories. Yet even as he fights for control of the strategic bridges on the Rio Rocoso, Marcus’ allies remain as fractious as ever. The rebellious Gente of Morganita continue to fight among themselves for leadership of their cause, while the Gota also violently question the leadership of Marcus’ friend, Evorik. As if all of this weren’t bad enough, the mighty Thegn of Granate still tries to walk the middle path in this war, telling both Marcus and his enemies that he is loyal to them. Too soon now, Marcus will find out which side Granate betrays at the Bridges of Morganita.
Surrounded by enemies, Prefect Marcus
Venandus launches a bold stroke to eliminate one opponent in the coming war.
The key to his plan is the fortified border town of Centinela—the Sentinel of
Southern Morganita. Its fortified walls are strong enough to delay conventional
forces for weeks, giving the other enemy city-states plenty of time to invade
Amatista from the east. Yet, one thing Marcus has learned in the Jeweled Hills
is that the locals do not understand the full capabilities of legion-style
infantry. Can he take advantage of their ignorance to neutralize Centinela? Or
will his risky gambit cost Marcus and his allies the war?
passes to Ópalo forced open again, Prefect Marcus Venandus hoped
to gain a respite to build his army for the war he knows is coming in the
spring. Unfortunately, his enemies understand all too well the threat he poses
to them and are taking steps to kill him before he reaches next year’s
battlefields. Assassins, both mundane and magical, step out of the shadows to
strike at him, while other conspirators take advantage of the intense divisions
within the city to spark riots to bring the government down. Unable to
differentiate between friend and foe, will Marcus and his few trusted comrades
be able to win the Battle for Amatista?
Tribune Marcus Venandus and his two trusted
officers have gone through hell in their journey north from the Fire Islands
and across the Sea of Grass. Arriving at Amatista in the Jeweled Hills, Marcus
is looking forward to a much deserved rest in the home of his half-brother, but
fate has other plans for the legionnaire. Soon he will be wishing he’d never
heard of his brother’s city. Surrounded by enemies and crippled by internal
divisions, Amatista is already on its knees and ready to fall. Marcus must act
decisively to save everything his brother has built, but without his beloved
legions behind him, can Marcus and his friends survive their visit to the
returning to Aquila, Marcus Venandus responds to a plea from a half-brother he
has never met to aid him in the far away land called the Jeweled Hills. When pirates
shut down the sea routes the legion officer and his two trusted companions are
forced to join a caravan to make the slower journey north across the
treacherous Sea of Grass. Yet this may not prove to be the safer choice. A
mysterious shaman has sworn to drench the plains in the blood of foreigners and
his mastery over storms gives him the teeth to fulfill his oath. As chaos
envelopes the trail, it will fall to Marcus to organize the defense and try to
shepherd the frightened civilians of the caravan to safety again.
Lesser Tribune Marcus Venandus, Legion officer
exemplar, was exiled to the disease-ridden hell hole known as the Fire Islands
as punishment for the failed political machinations of his father. While the
days of the powerful witchdoctor kings throwing skeletal armies against the
shields of the legion have faded into history, all is not right at the edge of
the world. Unrest is boiling once again as long dead darkness seeps back into
the islands. With the legion more concerned with its personal rivalries than
with its duty, it will fall to Marcus and his small, highly disciplined,
command to put the horrors of the past back in their graves and literally save Aquila
from a fate worse than death.
Prefect Marcus Venandus directed the defense of the Jeweled Hills, Green Vigil
Marcus led his first command into the treacherous jungles of Ekángá. As if the
jungle itself wasn’t deadly enough, native warriors and shamans strike from its
shadows with magic, spear and dart, while the forcibly transplanted Graeci
population seethes with unrest in the supposedly civilized regions of the
province. Deep in the jungle, young Marcus is about to discover how little
lycee combat exercises have to do with surviving the Jungles of Ekángá.
A Note on How I Came to Write The Fire Islands
I’ve been reading fantasy novels since at least the sixth grade when my mother bought me The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. That interest led me to pursue degrees in history where I was introduced to many wonderous periods in the human past. Eventually, I began to wonder why most fantasy literature was grounded in something akin to the European Middle Ages and one morning while listening to Mike Duncan’s podcast, The History of Rome, I found myself wondering what a fantasy series based loosely on the Roman Empire might be like.
And that’s the birth of my Legionnaire series. My Aquila is not Rome, but it shares a lot with that historical entity—especially its culture, its internal political problems, its border troubles, and of course, its amazing legions. Aquila and its world also differs mightily from Rome in a few regards—most particularly the existence and widespread practice of magic and an empire which includes and abuts places very different than those the Romans actually encountered.
My initial ideas for the story revolved around the second and third books in what would become the Legionnaire series. I wrote the first short novel to introduce the characters and the border provinces of Aquila before the story would take me elsewhere. In doing so, I got to play with something you don’t see so much in medieval-based fantasies—the critical importance of well-disciplined soldiers (legionnaires in my case) acting under competent officers and operating in a military tradition with centuries of success behind it. I also got to show what happens when that discipline breaks down due to poor leadership. And I get to do all of this while exploring the culture of my legionnaires and their subjects in The Fire Islands. Throw in some truly monumental magic and a threat worthy of an epic hero and his companions, and you get the kickoff novel of a series I’ve come to love as much as I do any of the great works of this genre.