Book Review: Roman Fort

Reading Level

Ages 9-12

Also on This Subject

• An Introduction to Ancient Rome

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This fun book is an excellent introduction to life as a Roman soldier, especially on the frontier. The author and illustrator are British, so the focus is on Roman Britain. A great deal of the content, however, could be substituted for life in any fort on the Roman frontier.

Through the guise of following a set of characters through a thin plot, the reader is introduced to the particulars that made up a Roman fort, including the outbuildings and whole towns that sprang around them. This really isn't historical fiction, though. It is more straightforward narration of the different aspects of a historical time and place. The characters that the reader follows (drawn up in a wonderful dramatis personae) are at the same time primary and incidental to what is being described.

The reader learns what it is like to live as a Roman soldier, with all the duty, glory, and drudgery that that entails. Sharp descriptions (accompanied by equally sharp illustrations) of the fort as a whole and of its parts follow, including a description of the mechanics of both the bath-house and the outhouse.

Families are by no means left: Wives and children are discussed in due detail, with fun pictures to match. A birthday party is the main device here, and it works very well in describing the customs that the Romans employed at that time for such celebrations.

Even the Emperor gets in on the action, as he pays a visit to the fort in question. Arena games and large feasts follow.

This book is more than just a sketchbook of a Roman fort. It is an introduction to Roman life as a whole. A two-page spread on the Roman gods is included, with descriptions of each and of worship services that take place in Roman family homes. Also included is a spread describing the manufacture and skill of the Roman road.

And this being a Roman Britain study, it necessarily includes a writeup of the courageous Boudicca, the warrior queen who sacked London and spread fear throughout the Romans in Britain.

All in all, this is a wonderful introduction to Roman Britain, the Roman fort, Roman soldiers, and Roman life in general. Get this book, and pay attention to the details (both words and pictures)!

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