From the author:
Unlike my other books, COLOSSUS wasn’t born from a line in Shakespeare, but in a very specific place. A place that never actually appears in the novel, that won’t be seen until book five of this series. It’s a rather small church in Rome, just south of the Colosseum – the Basilica of San Clemente.
I was overseas on the modern equivalent of the Grand Tour, a semester-long trip hosted by Eastern Michigan University called the European Cultural History Tour. It started in Oxford, and went to a staggering list of cities over four months. For brevity’s sake, I’ll only list countries or islands – England, France, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Russia, Poland, Germany, the Czech Republic, Austria, Italy, Greece, Crete, Rhodes, Turkey, Egypt, and Israel. It was amazing, a whirlwind tour with professors in tow, lecturing on art in the Louvre, on politics on the Acropolis, on history in the Roman Forum.
One of the places our Art History professor Benita Goldman took us was St. Clement’s. We’d just been to the Colosseum that morning, and I remember waiting outside on a bench and wondering what was so important about this sleepy church. Going in, the mosaics are pretty incredible. And being the home of the Irish Dominicans in exile is historically neat. But that isn’t what makes Saint Clement’s amazing.
It’s the excavation.
They’ve dug down, and created a tour through the history of Rome itself. As a city that’s always building up upon it self, it’s often hard to see ancient Rome in anything but the famous edifices and the shapes of the streets. But here is Rome encapsulated. You start in an 17th century church, then descend into an early 12th century church, then to a 4th century church, a 3rd century Mithraeum (temple to the god Mithras), then finally to a 1st century Roman street and insula (apartment). You can hear the Tiber running just under your feet through the ancient sewer system.
It was such an experience to travel through time that way, when I was looking for new matter to write upon, I thought about a novel tracing history through those layers.
I never got past that 1st century street. Because I started looking into Saint Clement himself, and what was going on when he was living there – the fall of Jerusalem, the building of the Colosseum, the rise of Christianity in Rome. That was how the Colossus series was born. It starts small, almost intimately, with two Judean brothers at the siege of Jotapata. But in the next several books, the scope widens out, keeping those brothers as our base and our eyes as we explore how drastically the world changed in just that little span of time.
COLOSSUS: STONE & STEEL. The start to a grand adventure.
|Colossus: Stone and Steel by David Blixt|
Judea, 66 AD. A Roman legion suffers a smashing and catastrophic defeat at the hands of an angry band of Hebrews armed with only slings and spears. Knowing Emperor Nero's revenge will be swift and merciless, they must decide how to defend their land against the Roman invasion.
Caught up in the tumult is the mason Judah, inadvertent hero of Beth Horon, who now finds himself rubbing shoulders with priests, revolutionaries, generals, and nobles, drafted to help defend the land of Galilee. Denied the chance to marry where he will, he turns all his energy into defending the besieged city of Jotapata. But with a general suffering delusions of grandeur, friends falling each day, and the Roman menace at the walls, Judah must brave a nightmare to save those he loves and preserve his honor.
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