Embers of Destiny by Rosie Chapel
Embers of Destiny is the third book of Hannah’s Heirloom Historical Romance Series by Rosie Chapel
AD80 ~ It is a year since Hannah and Maxentius escaped from the cataclysmic eruption of Mt Vesuvius and, after a pleasant interlude in Rome, they must now embark on a new journey. This time to the troubled frontier of Northern Britannia, recently subjugated, yet maybe not quite pacified.
This harsh borderland is a far cry from the luxuries and relative security of Rome, and danger lurks where least expected. A garrison of soldiers, some rather disgruntled with their isolated posting and it’s new commander; local tribes people, although outwardly accepting of their erstwhile enemy, may still harbour a burning resentment that their lands have been occupied.
Meanwhile, in the modern world and now married to Max, Hannah Vallier is working in the archives department of a museum on Hadrian’s Wall; cataloguing artefacts from some of the original wooden forts, recently discovered following a series of aerial surveys. While most of the finds are mundane, Hannah is shocked when she comes across an all too familiar item. It is her, or rather her ancestor’s pomegranate; the one carved by Maxentius in the aftermath of the massacre at Masada, carried from there to Pompeii and then on to Rome.
Confused as to how it could be here in Northumberland, Hannah searches a new database for answers, finding a fragmented inscription indicating that Maxentius and Hannah had indeed been posted to Northern Britannia; that Maxentius had been commander of a garrison, the fort for which, coincidentally, had been almost exactly where she was now sitting. Realising what this might mean, Hannah needs to talk to Max, who is away on business.
Before they get the chance, disaster strikes! Believing the love of her life to have been killed and unable to deal with her grief, Hannah retreats into the past, re-connecting with her ancient family. Unfortunately, scant historical evidence for this period means that Hannah is unaware of what might be looming, instead she must trust that any information she holds will be enough to save them once again.
Adjusting to a world on the frontier of Empire, Hannah meets the local wise woman and, as they share their love and knowledge of healing, a tentative friendship blossoms. The burgeoning cordiality between the garrison and the locals is jeopardised however, as a multitude of challenges conspire to undermine the fragile peace. Hannah realises that the threat might come from a most unexpected quarter, for there is one within the fort whose enmity will have dire consequences.
At the same time, Hannah’s heart whispers that maybe, just maybe Max is still alive and that he is calling her home.
Will Maxentius be able to preserve the hard won trust of the locals, or will everything descend into madness? Is there any hope of discovering who is inciting such hostility before it’s too late? Can Hannah learn to trust her heart, or will she remain forever caught out of time, her destiny floating away like embers on a breeze.
A Word from the Author
I am very excited that the third book in the Hannah’s Heirloom Sequence is now available worldwide on Amazon. Called ‘Embers of Destiny,’ it is set in the north of Roman Britain along the frontier, which would eventually be defined by Hadrian’s Wall. It is AD80 and although much of this distant province has been pacified, the borderland is not quite subdued.
In recent times, aerial surveys have discovered that there were several forts along this frontier, established long before the famous stone wall constructed during the Emperor Hadrian’s reign. It is thought that they were set up by Agricola to police the newly conquered northern border, while he continued on into Scotland (or Caledonia as it was then known). Originally these would have been temporary marching camps, evolving into wooden forts before eventually being rebuilt in stone, indicating long-term settlement.
Magnis, where my story is set is one such fort and was still in use in AD160, by which time it had been completely rebuilt in stone, marking it as one of the permanent forts. Even though plenty of artefacts have been found confirming later occupation, there was a dearth of remains for the time period I was writing about. This was actually very useful as I could weave the story around what we did know and add my own ‘finds’ to suit myself. Soon I was engrossed in learning how forts were organised and what everyday life on the edge of Empire was like. A garrison like this was usually made up from vexillations, or detachments of soldiers, drawn from two or three legions based elsewhere in the province. So having worked out which legions would likely supply soldiers to these outposts, I then augmented them with a contingent of Maxentius’ soldiers who had accompanied him from Rome.
It was also fascinating to research how local tribes people lived – those native to the area who had been subjugated by the invading Romans. How they lived, what their dwellings looked like both inside and out, their clothing and their language. I admit to getting quite lost in the world of Roman Britain for several weeks and loved every minute of it.
‘Embers of Destiny’ is the culmination of that research and is the final book in the sequence – well it should have been. However, as happened when I wrote ‘The Pomegranate Tree,’ I wasn’t quite ready to let go, so I have begun a prequel. This will be a short story following the lives of Hannah and Maxentius before they meet on Masada. There won’t be any falling through time and my modern couple are not part of this tale. I was just interested in the journey of my ancient couple and in the challenges they faced; one as a young soldier fighting on the troubled eastern fringes of the Empire and the other as a healer in a city descending in chaos. I’m probably about halfway through and trying to get my head around Roman Army battle tactics is keeping me out of mischief!
(Rosie Chapel, June 2016)
Check out the other books in the same series
Hannah’s Heirloom Book 1: The Pomegranate Tree
Hannah’s Heirloom Book2: Echos of Fire and Stone