By Vivian Schurfranz
Review #4 of the reading challenge.
Can you guess which time period we have been covering of late at our house? This historical fiction takes place during the time that Valens was Emperor of Constantinople.
Ruric was the only son of Frithgern, chief of a Visigoth tribe. Fleeing from advancing Huns, they sought refuge in Thrace, under Roman protection. In exchange, Ruric and his sister Serena, along with many other Visigoth youths, had to be sent as hostages to live in Constantinople. Ruric came to live with General Julian and his son Aruuns. General Julian was a hard man, though not without a sense of justice and honor. As a tentative friendship began to grow between Ruric and Aruuns, Ruric had to prove himself to the other boys of the city, and gradually won respect and even friendship from some of them. Yet he was always aware that he was an outsider in the city.
The Visigoths, led by Frithgern, after being unfairly treated in Thrace, had gone on the rampage. As preparations for battle with the "barbarians" were being made within Constantinople, Ruric felt torn. Of course he was rooting for his father and his people; yet at the same time Ruric felt concern for friends he had made within the city. He laid plans to slip away and rejoin his father secretly, returning to Constantinople after the fighting. Further plots and counter-plots are woven into the story, including an infamous treachery, with Ruric caught up in it all. Then he had to flee the city again. Where did he really belong?
On a scale of 1 - 5, I would rank this book at about 3. Although we enjoyed reading it, the story was not as gripping as others I have read. All the same, we found that it gave us an interesting glimpse into Roman life later in its history.