Reviews

LIBERTAS: Douglas Jackson, author of Caligula: “Alistair Forrest's Libertas is a fast-moving tale of fortitude, survival and eventual retribution told against the background of Rome's bloody civil war. In the mountains of southern Spain Melqart grows up unaware of the unseen forces which are drawing the armies of Julius Caesar and Pompey the Great's sons towards an explosive collision in a valley close to his beloved village of Munda. As the action sweeps dramatically between Spain, Sicily and the shores of Africa Melqart is drawn ever deeper into the conspiracy by his friendship with Sextus. The young Spaniard must fight for his life and his family's freedom and Forrest vividly recreates the epic battle that gave Caesar the prize he sought so avidly.”  

CELL WARS: Review by author Brian Sellars: Cell Wars had me hooked from the start. The action takes place in a micro-world right under your nose – well, right up it actually. It's a world of fantastic beauty and ugliness where civil servants, demons, warriors and pub landlords duke it out daily. Most of us wouldn't expect a story about a battle between cancer cells and the good stuff to be all that funny. Well I just found out that it can be hilarious. It's also gripping, and a genuinely un-put-down-able read. It might even be life changing, or life saving. How often can you say that about a funny story? Do yourself a favour and read this book. It's a genuine treat. Even if it doesn't improve your mind, it could make your bum look a size smaller. Brian Sellars, author

LIBERTAS: Review by Lynn Guest, Historical Novels Review (Issue 48 May 2009): Southern Spain in the 1st century BC. Melqart and his family live in the prosperous town of Munda under a benign Roman procurator. In the surrounding mountains, the Kemeletoi, a mysterious ancient tribe, live in harmony with the townsmen. Although isolated, Munda cannot escape Roman politics and the ambitions of Julius Caesar. When the sons of his rival, Pompey, take refuge in the valley, Caesar and his army pursue them. Munda’s peace is shattered and its citizens are taken to Rome as slaves. Melqart, no warrior but gifted with an inventive mind, must call on all his courage and skill to rescue his enslaved family and to liberate Munda. His adventures carry him from Spain to North Africa to Sicily.

Forrest is good on landscape, especially on southern Spain, which is lovingly described. Melqart makes an unusual but attractive hero, resolute even when scared half to death and maturing as the novel progresses. Forrest brings the Mediterranean world and its various peoples alive. Daily life and that of the soldier are well depicted; casual cruelty and torture are balanced by a strong sense of nature worship and mysticism. The complicated battle scenes are particularly excellent and easy to follow.

Libertas is a good read: pacy, exciting and often funny. Forrest makes us care about Munda. He captures the tragedy of a people dragged into the horror of a vicious war brought about by circumstances over which they had no control and could hardly understand. And three cheers for Quaestor2000 for supporting off-beat historical fiction.

LIBERTAS: US author Todd Fonseca: An Epic Journey into Roman Hispania - Rating: 5 of 5, Recommended!

High atop the Iberian Peninsula Mountains in the small somewhat forgotten village of Munda, young Melqart struggles in his sword play practice against the much larger and athletic Arsay.  Though boys will be boys, their early conflicts of brain versus brawn escalates as the two boys age.  Arsay becomes increasing jealous of Melqart who along with the help of a young girl – Leandra – ingeniously trap and kill wild boar for their village, infuriating Arsay.  As the tension grows between these two, so does the faraway conflict between generals warring for control of the Roman Empire; Munda suddenly finds itself a very strategic location for these generals.  Melqart, Leandra, and Arsay’s lives are never the same as they all struggle to find their way in a rapidly changing, dangerous world.

Alistair Forrest’s novel, Libertas, is an epic journey through Roman controlled Hispania in the First Century BC.  Forrest develops the characters, their desires, their motivations, and all that they are forced to give up as a result of the world events that so disrupt their lives.  One wonders what life would have been like in this quite small mountain village had the bloody Roman civil war not occurred.  Clearly their lives would have been much simpler and less painful, but would they have reached their potential for leadership, ingenuity, love, honor, and in some cases evil?  In this way, Forrest subtly explores a truism that it is in the times of genuine hardship and struggle that one’s true self and character comes forward.

I enjoy historical fiction probably for the same reasons I enjoy traveling.  Both immerse one in the local culture, an experience which greatly impacts one’s view of the world and as such broadens the mind.  Libertas was such a journey for me.  For those who enjoy this genre you will not be disappointed!

Todd Fonseca is author of The Time Cavern, for young people but good enough to captivate their parents too!

LIBERTAS: That's All She Read:

"My regular readers are watching me spread my wings and read novels from other than the Middle Ages. Thanks to the proliferation of independent publishing, and in the case of Libertas, many more small publishers, divers authors' love for and knowledge of so many more times and places is becoming available. This novel is a case in point." 

Amazon reviews:

See Amazon UK reviews here, and Amazon US reviews here.

Other reviews of LIBERTAS:

"I loved, loved, LOVED this book! If I wasn't on the train I might have cried at the more tragic bits. Love the ending with the eagles! I didn't put it down for the whole train journey - ridiculously captivating!" Cassie Adlington, student

Libertas is a heady mixture of a ripping yarn, a serious history lesson, a guided tour of parts of Spain which are so very different from the way they are now. It’s peopled by real characters, and though it’s part of an historical genre that’s dominated by authors like Bernard Cornwell and Conn Iggulden, it more than deserves its own niche."  Peter Corbett, Journalist

“Pito is the narrator of Libertas and leads you to believe there are more stories to come from this well-written tale. It takes place in the times of Pompey and Caesar and their final dispute that leads to the overthrow of the republic, and is mostly concerned with events in Hispania (Spain as it is now). The action of a major and bloody battle takes place around Munda, Pito’s home, which is situated in what is now Andalucia, not too far from Malaga. The descriptions of the battle are excellent as the lines of warring legions jostle for position until the crashing of man to man combat takes place and leaves the battlefield awash with blood. Pito befriends one of Pompey’s sons, Sextus, who has managed to evade Caesar’s clutches. Always beneath the surface of the book is the air of mysticism, gods and the apparent influence over events that is the domain of the eagle. I can tell this has all been very painstakingly researched and that the historical characters are accurately portrayed and the descriptions of the way people lived and loved is as realistic as is possible. The writing is executed in just the right way to evoke feelings that the person writing this tale actually lived through it and marvels that he is still alive to record the exciting and poignant events that he witnessed. The words work beautifully and the prose is evocative; it’s an intelligent and sharply observed book and the author definitely wants us to continue reading the saga – I for one look forward to the next instalment.” Phil Reuben, Designer

“This is an exciting piece of writing of the highest standard. It offers action that is so credible. The prose is well written, and well grammatically presented. The story line is believable and the characters display genuine colour to the tale. Dialogue is appropriate, balanced and offers a magnetism holding the reader. I believe this could be a best seller.” Ian Robb, Scotland

"This is an excellent read. Good story line and it flows well. The sea spear is an excellent idea - nobble them below the waterline.” BRF, Watford, UK

“This isn’t normally my genre but I found it immediately engaging and I am delighted to see some very well researched references to herbs and healing, not to mention the spiritual aspects of Pito’s development! I can see this as a blockbuster film, and every so often I could even hear the moving soundtrack from Gladiator! I am convinced this will succeed.” Lynda Adlington, Malaga, Spain

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