The Shrine is the short story prequel to Eagles at War, the first book in the Eagles of Rome trilogy by Ben Kane.
The story is set in Mogontiacum, Gallia Belgica in 6BC, and Lucius Cominius Tullus, a Roman soldier, has just accepted a promotion. The new post involves a transfer, moving from the Twenty-First legion to become a centurion in the Eighteenth, stationed in Vetera. En route, he pauses on the way, to watch the famous footrace in Mogontiacum after which he decides to visit the local shrine. The shrine in question is the temple to Magna Mater (the Great Mother) and Isis.
But his stay there is not to be a quiet one. Neither will it be easy to forget…
“Piss off,” hissed Tullus. He had no woman. The army was work enough.
I really enjoyed this short story. It served as a great introduction to the character of Tullus and to the location: the German frontier. This period in Roman’s history fascinates me, and so I found the not-too-heavy, yet still rich detail of the setting a rewarding read. One of my interests is in ancient religion so the part of the story set in the temple held me captivated.
I especially enjoyed reading the “note from the author” at the end of the story, as it explained how and why the story came about.
I’ve already gone out and bought a copy of Eagles at War, and am looking forward to begin reading it. Tullus sounds like an interesting character and I want to see how his story unfolds, as I am aware of the events that happen round this time in this part of the empire.
If you’ve yet to read any of Ben Kane’s books, why not pop over to Wattpad and give this short story a read for free? (Here’s the link if you’re interested.)