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3.8 out of 5 stars88
3.8 out of 5 stars
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on 9 January 2007
I can fully understand the comments by both those who liked, and those who disliked the book. I read the book in a few days offshore and enjoyed the vast majority of it.

The pace is blinding, with characters coming and going at a rate of knots. Most tend to go in a rather unsavoury fashion! The plot does tend to get jumpy between chapters, but it's in no way different to the to-ing and fro-ing of The DaVinci Code. (Maybe without so many cliffhangers!) The two predominantly main charaters share inter-twining chapters and this, I felt, assists in the whole reading pleasure. As one chapter finishes with Attila and moves on to Lucius, or Stilicho in the early parts, I found myself reading the next few chapters to find out what was happening to each of them.

There is no doubting Napiers historical knowledge and this works for and against him at times.

On the plus side, his passion for setting the scene is wonderful. It's almost as if he is trying to paint the scene in your mind and put you in it. Also, the index of characters (who's names are written phonectically so you pronounce them properly) and their history, shows a real caring for the subject matter.

On the negative, it does feel that he tries to show how clever he is, by naming an endless list of Attilas heritage or when he translates a saying into four different tounges. It's all a bit too 'Hey, look at me, I know it all'!!

This negative is the only reason for the four stars and not five. Otherwise, it was a highly enjoyable book and I'd recommend it to anyone with
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on 18 October 2012
Unfortunately not a great book - Although the story starts out with much promise , the author tends to get lost in the details of things that are not related to the story. He has paragraphs and sometimes pages of descriptions of cities or landscapes that could have been covered in much less words and sometimes he describes things that happen to the side in detail but those items/people do not come back into the story.
I was so frustrated by this that I will not be reading the rest of the books in this series even though I was looking forward to learning more about Atilla.
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on 16 September 2005
Fans of Gladiator would love this - and just about anybody else! I devoured it, cant' wait for the next volumes - it tells about the boyhood of Attila the Hun, who I'd heard of but didn't know a lot about - a hostage in the Court of Rome - his escape through war-town Italy and his long-planned vengeance on his mortal enemy, the Roman Empire ... its fantastic, stirring stuff, full of great set-piece battles, marauding Gothic warriors, stern Roman heroes, but it's way better written than most of this type of blockbuster historical fiction, I found it beautiful and moving too. It takes you right back to that world and those tumultuous years of the Fall of Rome and Europe's collapse into the Dark Ages, under the vengeful onslaught of Attila and his terrible Huns - it has all kinds of resonances of the world situation now, but readers will pick those up or skate over them as they choose, I guess; the character of Attila is powerful, hypnotic, terrifying, unforgettable. He is a man of iron will and will stop at nothing to achieve his desires. His boyhood friend, the noble Roman boy Aetius, becomes his greatest enemy in adulthood, and they will each bring their opposing armies to battle to decide the fate of the world. I can't praise this book highly enough, READ IT!
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on 19 May 2009
This book should be about 1/2 the length, that is the useful amount of story with the filler removed. For example, in the first 60 pages of this book I counted:

* A full 1.5 page description of the food at a feast
* A 2.5 page rant by a "preacher" which had only marginal bearing on the story
* A full 1 page description of the clothes being worn by the Romans

Whilst I'm all for description, a full page list of food is taking it a bit too far. These rather tedious descriptions seriously detract from the flow of the book and seem to just cover up the lack of plot and the lack of description of personalities and other serious adjuncts to the story.

The story itself is basically ok and I won't spoil it with this review but in conclusion I would have to say that other writers such as Bernard Cornwell and Conn Iggulden do this sort of stuff much better. Having read this book I felt no inclination to finish the trilogy of "Attila" books.
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449 CE. The final book in the Attila trilogy starts with Attila’s invasion of the Roman Empire, with his ruthless campaign of slaughter in revenge for Roman atrocities. While Attila and his warriors wreak havoc across central Europe, Valentinian in Ravenna, and Theodosius in Constantinople focus on undermining each other while relying on the able but disgraced Roman general Aëtius to save the empire.

‘To think’, Aëtius murmured, shaking his head again, there were once four boys who played together on a Scythian plain. A Roman and a Hun, and Greek and Celtic slaves.’

Much of this story is the description of violence and byzantine alliances, networks and plots, of revenge and broken promises that characterises the war between the Hunnic hordes and the crumbling Roman empire. Of the real people depicted in this novel, I found Aëtius the most interesting (and likeable). While I enjoyed this novel better than the second novel in the trilogy, Attila himself is more remote and far less likeable.

‘There was nobility in the soul of Attila, that I could see. Aëtius saw it, too. But the darker strains of malice, tyranny and vengefulness were overshadowing it and ultimately it would be extinguished.’

I enjoyed reading this novel, and it’s a satisfying conclusion to the trilogy. We know that Aëtius was a hostage with the Huns, and it’s possible that Attila was held as a hostage in Rome. Whatever the truth, William Napier has constructed a trilogy which I found fast moving and entertaining. I’d definitely recommend reading the books in order: the first novel in particular sets out a background for Attila from which the other two novels flow.

‘It was some weeks before the news arrived at Ravenna and Constantinople that Attila, King of the Huns, was dead – at the hands of a girl of twenty.’

Jennifer Cameron-Smith
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on 15 January 2014
There is a certain poetry in violence, but only so much. I don't mind a historic fiction novel that has a bit of the crimson about it, but at times it feels like William Napier's `Attila: The Gathering of the Sword' basked in it. He writes in a very florid style that seems a bit strange when describing the act of pushing an arrowhead through someone's throat. This is part 2 of a trilogy and tells the story of Attila's return from exile and the forming of an army to take on the failing Roman Empire. Like with so many part 2s, it has that flabby unneeded feel to it, as it is merely a stop gap between the boy to man book and the actual events of the third book.

If a book has enough interesting elements to it, you can have a few `not much happens' novels in a series. Simon Scarrow is a master of stretching out Marco and Cato's adventures. Their stories are not always epic, but they are always interesting. In `Sword' the story is just a little dull. The Attila parts are reasonable, but Napier over describes things far too often and at one point goes off on a several chapter tangent to introduce a load of Roman characters I could not care less about.

I may not care about the Romans in this book, but at times Napier cares a little too much about Attila. The book borders on hero worshipping, the exploits of this sociopathic man are almost told as if in a fairy-tale - a grim one of course. Napier was obviously impressed by Attila the man, but here he seems to write more of the legend than the history. I found an unbalance in the book as Napier wants you to like the man, but his acts make him irredeemable in my mind. I do not say this often, but a little more history and a little less personal style would have made this a better book.
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on 10 July 2007
A cracker - the first book is a portrait of Attila's boyhood amid the fall of Rome in 410 AD, a catastrophic event, but still not quite the end for the tottering Empire - the boy survives with his wits, it's a galloping good yarn - then book two he re-appears as a man, and the child IS very much father to the man here, formed in harshness and war - he forges a new Hun nation, the ultimate weapon for the destruction of Rome. Terrific stuff! Can't wait for Book Three! Though I fear the ending will not be a happy one for the Romans ...
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In the first book The Scourge of God, the Vandals and the Visigoths, large barbarian nations have sensed that the time is right for them to challenge the right of the Roman Empire but a new power has been rising in the East. A nation of horse riding warrior who have just found themselves a new leader. The nation called the Huns are led by Attila.

The boy exiled thirty years ago, is now a man. A man who lived away from his own people for such a length of time that he almost began to believe he was no longer one of them. That was only when he despaired that he would ever see his own people again. But that was then and this is now . . .

Attila is now preparing to ride out to unite all the feuding tribes under one single banner, his own. Attila has chosen his time well. His strength of character and iron will mould the petty squabbling of the tribes into a horde of warriors the like of which the world has never seen before or will again. An empire, full of gold and silver. Grown fat on its own rich pickings lies waiting for them . . . The Roman Empire, once invincible but now a shadow of its former glory.
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on 7 August 2009
If you read just one series of books on the rise of the Hun nation under Attila, the decline of the Roman empire and warfare in the fifth century AD then this IS the one!

Based on a fair amount of fact, but with some believable fiction thrown in to keep the reader engaged and with a true 'all action hero' thrown in for good measure in the guise of Roman Master-General Aetius, I read the entire trilogy in under a week and will probably read them again within the year ....

Highly recommended.
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VINE VOICEon 17 July 2007
What can I say, but, Oh dear! What happened? It started off quite well. An over romantic take on the boyhood of Attila and the fall of Rome, but it read well and I grew to like little Attila. The divisions in Rome were well represented with the honourable soldiers facing off with the insidious empress and her eunuchs. We were set for some good (if far-fetched) historical fiction.

But little Attila is taking ages to get where he is going and his journey starts to get dull, and this is where it takes a sharp turn for the worse. We are introduced to some clichéd nonsense about beautiful wood nymphs that turn into haggard old crones and who happen to know the future in perfect detail and feel the need to relate it to us in the form of prophecy. As soon as an author starts to use the prophecy tool I immediately start to cringe.

It really falls away into fantasy nonsense when the author introduces a parallel story of one of the Roman conscripts returning home to good old Britannia. This soldier conscript is a very remarkable man indeed, he memorises a whole manuscript in a few hours! And this remarkable man meets up with some druid character who surprise, surprise is just like King Arthur's Merlin and happens to have lived for thousands of years and can turn himself into a bear! Sorry, I just laughed and gave up reading then and was very disappointed indeed because I thought this could have been the start of a readable series of books. Four stars for the start, one star for the end, and I won't be reading any more.
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