Desolation, bodies from river

Vann Turner, Novelist of Late Antiquity

This one-page website is a frontispiece to me as a novelist. Since I believe that the proper estimation of a novelist lies in the stories he/she tells and in the integrity with which he tells them, I won't waste your time by blabbing about me. Instead, let me tell you about my first novel. It is the fictional story of a man who almost prevented the Dark Ages.


To Forestall the Darkness:
A Novel of Ancient Rome


Italy in the Sixth Century was a land of utter devastation. The plague had depopulated it and decades of war had destroyed it. Industry, agriculture, commerce and city life had stopped. The ruination was so complete that it could have been the template for the film, Mad Max. But imagine a man in that apocalypse, not attempting merely to survive and seek revenge, as Mel Gibson did, but one determined to restore what had been lost. That is the scenario and thrust of To Forestall the Darkness.


To Forestall the Darkness is set in AD 589, Verona, where the Germanic Lombards held power. The Lombards were so brutal that Pope Gregory often railed against their cruelty: They were unusually fond of castration. Through this world moves Titus Tribonius, a man of emotional and moral strength.


Titus Tribonius

From the barbarity he faces—decapitated heads adorning Hadrian’s Gate, burning of hamlets in the adjoining district, enslavement of freeborn Romans, murder of a woman while in his custody, a man’s castration on the Cathedral steps—he flees to the shrine of his household gods, where he stands for hours, his arms raised in supplication, his head covered with his toga. Dozens gather in the peristylum, where—silent and expectant—they watch him pray. Finally he turns and announces in measured voice, “It shall not stand.” One in the crowd asks him to clarify and he shouts, “Our subjugation shall not stand!”


Romans as captives

Amid the desolation the characters in this richly textured novel teem with life:

With some aiding him, some opposing, and some even betraying him, Titus will struggle to restore what has been lost.


To Forestall the Darkness is a serious historical novel for a mature audience, like Gary Jennings’ Raptor or Steven Saylor’s Roman Blood.


Click here to read the first 40 pages.


cover, To Forestall the Darkness   cover, To Abandon Rome, AD 593To Abandon Rome, coming summer 2017



Artwork used on this page:

Top: Charles Le Brun (1619 – 1690), French. A portion of Mucius Scaevola devant Porsenna.
Middle: Cesare Maccari (1840 - 1919), Italian. A portion of  Cicerone denuncia Catalina of 1888.
Bottom: Charles Gleyre (1806-1874), Swiss. A portion of  Les Romans passant sous le joug of 1858.
Kindle cover: Gustave Dore (1832 - 1883), French. A portion of The Clash of the Titans of 1868.
To Abandon Rome: Etienne-Jules Ramey (1796 - 1852), French.Thesee combattant le Minotaure of 1821.


Keywords as listed in the META tags: historical fiction, ancient rome, roman fiction, historical novel, roman novel, to forestall the darkness, vann turner, late antiquity, medieval fiction


© 2016 by Vann Turner