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: AD 589
A Novel of Ancient Rome

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.

The Sixth Century was the pivotal century. While the western world had already begun its retreat into the darkness of the cloister—(Even simple curiosity was pronounced a disease!)—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.

588 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 the life Titus leads in the public arena are his personal needs.
He needs to avenge his wife's defilement.
And he needs—Someway. Somehow.—to survive it all 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.

This is a dark story (3300 words). It is so disturbing that I debated with myself for weeks whether I should publish it or not. While no sex is depicted, while no part of anatomy is described, it is sexual dynamite and not in a romantic way, but in the vile S/M way.

But even so, the story is not pornography. It explores using people as objects and selling out one's self-worth in order to survive. Heady stuff. It is unfit for a Victorian parlor. It is more fit for the psychoanalyst's couch or the confessional booth.

Since I am just now beginning to establish myself as a serious novelist (historical fiction—ancient Rome), I hesitate to publish this story. But I also see its similarities to my other work:

The Reality of Carmen is not for children and not for the squeamish. It is for adults willing to look at existence as it is—arising from the primordial mud with dignity intact.
eBook only

In mid-February my work will be available everywhere. Currently it is only available here:


copyright 2017 Vann Turner

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.