Vann Turner: Novels of Late Antiquity


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Photo of the Colosseum by Phil Good. In Abandon there are two scenes set in the plaza surrounding it.

To Forestall the Darkness
A Novel of Ancient Rome, AD 589

In Paperback and eBook

A portion of Mucius Scaevola devant 
Porsenna by Charles Le Brun (d. 1690). It suggests the scene where Romans pull corpses from the river.

A portion of Cicerone denuncia Catalina (1888) by Cesare Maccari. It suggests Titus's perplexity in finding a way to overcome 
the strangulation by the Lombards

Verona, Italy, AD 589. The plague had depopulated Italy in the Sixth Century. Decades of war had destroyed it. Industry, agriculture, commerce and city life had stopped. Under their overlords the Romans cowered, despondent and fearful, until the brutality they endure propels one of them to the shrine of his household gods. Those old, pre-Christian, forbidden gods.

For hours he stands, his arms raised in supplication, his head covered with his toga. It is stained with blood. Dozens of his household gather to gawk at him just standing there. For hours they watch. Finally he turns and pronounces in measured voice, “It shall not stand.”

One in the crowd asks him to clarify and he shouts, “Our subjugation shall not stand!”

Forestall's cover art is by Andrey Cherlat. It suggests the Romans' struggle to free themselves of Lombard constraints.

To Forestall the Darkness is historical fiction. But while it teems with violence, mystery and betrayal, it is neither a romp through decadence, nor detective story nor a military saga. It is a serious novel of Ancient Rome like Steven Saylor´s Roman Blood, or Gary Jennings´s Raptor.

Its setting is the twilight of Antiquity—the Sixth Century—when the traditions of Rome collided with the customs of the Germanic invaders.

Even at this late date things could have gone either way. The Western world did not need to slip into an abnegation of everything human as it awaited the End of Days. There was still a chance that the accumulated culture of the Roman people—the skills, the technologies, the optimistic world-view—would continue. Titus Tribonius tries to make it so.

He fails, of course, but fails triumphantly.

612 pages, 158,000 words.
Third Edition, Nov 11, 2017
eBook and Paperback



To Abandon Rome: AD 593

Abandon's cover is based on a work by Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres, his Study for the Martyrdom of St. Symphorien, 1834. Cal Sharp of edited it, lest someone project into it sexual abuse. He's a talented designer. Henceforth I'll use him for all my work.

Cain, by Lovis Corinth, 1917. It suggests the black rage that Titus summons in the climatic chapter.

Rome, AD 593. A wife snatched from him by his banishment and defiled by rape. Another woman who loves him. An entanglement into the vyings of the powerful. A rage he keeps caged until the moment comes to release it.

This is the story of Titus Tribonius, former Chief Jurist for Roman Matters in the Lombard Kingdom, reduced to baking clay and lime in furnaces, then elevated to Consul with Plenary Powers. The Pope assigns him a task: Defeat the Lombard King besieging Rome.

Titus: "But Your Holiness, what about your flock? Resist them, yes. But defeat them? Our grain grinders, road repairers, grocers can't match a trained military on the field. We'll wait them out within our walls."

Pope: "The Emperor is watching me. I demand a spirited defense!"

"No. I'll defend the city but won't lead the people to slaughter."

"You dare defy me?!"

Pitted against Titus's public life is his private life and his personal needs. He needs to avenge his wife's defilement and he needs—somehow, someway— to survive the machinations that threaten to destroy him and to escape Rome with the woman he loves.

342 pages, 85,000 words.
eBook and Paperback


The maps of the city of Rome in Abandon cannot be adequately viewed in an eReader because the map and legend cover left and right pages.
This necessitated the eBook edition to have simplified maps. You may view, enlarge and/or download the full maps here (PDF format):     Map of Rome     Map of Rome's Northern Regions

Short-reads by Vann Turner

The photo is from the Gargoyle Collection by Frank Jr

The Marine, the Lady & the Hag: An Adult Fable.

This loss of innocence fable is set in New York City at the height of the Vietnam war. In it an idealistic Marine confronts the horrors that await him and glimpses the societal structures that enable those horrors and are indifferent to it. It's a gripping good read (only 3000 words).
eBook only


Photo by Beverly and Pack

The Reality of Carmen: A short read.

In this short-read (only 3300 words) a Vietnam vet begins to realize he is abasing himself. In order to survive he is selling out his dignity to a rich, abusive woman. While no sex is depicted, it is sexual dynamite and not in a romantic way, but in the vile S/M way. It is unfit for a Victorian parlor. It is more fit for the psychoanalyst's couch or the confessional booth. A disturbing story.
eBook only


feather books, a DBA for the author


The art used on this page:

The keywords as listed in the meta tag: historical fiction, vann turner, to abandon rome, to forestall the darkness, ancient, rome, late antiquity, medieval, Pope Gregory, King Agilulf, Lombards, 6th century

Feather Books is a DBA for the author.