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Out of the Northern Mists - an Editorial Review of "The Cimbri Appear"

Book Blurb:

In the second century BC nature’s fury and the instinct for survival sparked the beginning of an unprecedented tribal migration that would last centuries, eventually bringing about the dark ages and threatening the destruction of Rome itself. As other barbarian tribes join their cause, the Germanic Cimbri embark on an epic journey lasting two decades wandering throughout Europe, seeking a new homeland, finding only a desperate fight for their very existence. Rebuffed by hostile tribes and betrayed by a treacherous Roman consul, the Cimbri are forced into a fight they tried to avoid, and inflict a terrible price for Roman arrogance.

Author Bio:

Jeff Hein loves to write historical fiction that is grounded in facts that refer to the writings of ancient and modern historians and the discoveries of modern archeology. Jeff has traveled the world and had the good fortune to walk in the footsteps of many of his characters. When visiting these ancient sites, he feels the ghosts of those who went before him that are tied to the land they lived upon. Writing about history is a passion and he loves the challenge of weaving historical and archeological facts with believable fiction and interesting characters into a seamless and fascinating story. With a heavy dose of action, adventure, romance and intrigue he writes with the hope of transporting the reader to another time and place. At the end of the story, he hopes the reader will have learned something about actual history and shared a personal adventure with the author.

Editorial Review:

I was no stranger to violent death, and I accepted it as an important part of our religion. It is through the dead and dying that our gods speak to us.... “Wodan understands why his children must leave this place,” Skyld announced in her shrill, cracked voice. “He is pleased with the gift of life we have sent him and promises to watch over us and protect us as we search for a new homeland. Wodan warns us that it will be a long and difficult journey and that we must be strong. We will suffer many hardships, but we will survive, and we will conquer if we trust in him.”

Suffer, indeed. The history of the Cimbri, a fierce, ancient tribe in Europe, a combination of Celtic, Gaulish, Germanic, and Cimmerian people made their way in the world and after the book opens with a tragic tsunami flooding their homeland, they make the arduous decision to relocate to whatever land the gods direct them. From the outset, we are introduced to Borr, a young man who receives a vision of the journey ahead from Wodan, and of vanquishing of a mighty metal army of men. Again, in accepted history, these people joined together with the Teutons and the Ambrones to fight the mighty Roman Army in the second century B.C.E. This is, indeed, an ancient story set in very ancient times when barbarism and rituals abound, such as human sacrifice. The battles were bloody and brutal, and the mindset was far removed from any sort of civilized modern-thinking. Thus, Mr Hein brings this story to vivid life for the reader, and the historical research imbued throughout the narrative makes one feel transported back to this harsh time.

I was a scout now. A full warrior who had grown into a man's strength at seventeen years old. Experienced warriors had trained me in battle skills, and I had studied my enemy at great length under the tutelage of Vallus. I had learned woodland stealth from my friend Anik who was raised in jungle lands, and I was good. Very good.

As the blurb indicates, this is a story spanning two decades of wandering, an unprecedented journey in more ways than one. The tribe journeys and assimilates into other cultures, but there is also the journey for the main character, Borr. Both he and the tribe face fierce hostility and betrayal from Rome, and are forced to fight for their lives.

Borr, the people respect you. You have proven yourself as a warrior, and you are a thinker. Remember what I have taught you, and don't be afraid. Surround youself with reliable men and continue to prepare yourself. Your time will come...”

The atmosphere and world-building skills of the author are quite evident and are what make this story very appealing and connective to the reader, and are quite descriptive and fluid in many areas of the book, which set a tone for the narrative. Borr's experience along this journey, this epic hero's journey in many respects (but not all), is portrayed with in-depth feeling and sound, well-developed characterization, with rich dialogue that can sometimes be unrelatable to a modern reader. To this reviewer, this is one of the aspects which draws the reader into a different time and place, and does not detract but rather immerse the reader into this world of Celtic and Viking-like touchstones: stone circles, high priestesses, silver cauldrons, stone monoliths, burial mounds, funeral pyres, and sacrifices upon ancient altars.

Gaius Marius, senator, praetor, commander of legions, governor of Hispania Ulterior, victor over the Celt-Iberians, New Man of Rome, and one of the richest men in all of Italy, shared a drink of cool water with the slave that he stood beside, sweating in the summer sun... It was good to be away from the stink of the crowded cities, and he vowed to return to the fields and forests of his youth more often to rejuvenate himself.

Borr, who we learn is suffering from a lifelong illness after nearly drowning at a young age, grows into a strong warrior and leader, one whose legacy is to lead the Cimbri across these vast lands to settle in a new homeland, one gifted to them by the gods. All the viciousness of the battles between these people and the Romans are depicted with all the realistic brutality as was most likely the case – a homage to other epic battle-scene writers like Cornwell and Martin. Perseverance, endurance, and survival at all costs are the main themes threading through this storyline. Mr Hein has endowed the reader with a gift of hefty ancient traditions and battles, not a light read by any means, but one worthy for anyone who relishes a wealth of realistic and accurate historical (as well as educational) information in fictional form. The addition of maps and family trees dispersed throughout the narrative is very helpful and lent to, as stated before, a very educational read, as does the glossary and historical notes at the end of the book. The only caveat to the narrative might be the sentence structure, which, at times, feels a bit stilted and lifeless, more on the telling instead of showing side of writing, but for the most part, you do, as a reader become intrigued as to where this journey will end for this nation of people and for the main character.

Our young men wandered the battlefield, dispatching the enemy wounded as the ravens and vultures began their grisly dance with the dead. Looking over the vast killing field, I was reminded of my flight with Wodan and of the raven goddess. My dream had become a reality.


The Cimbri Appear” by Jeffrey Hein receives four stars from The Historical Fiction Company

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