Home > Book, Book Review, Historical Fiction, Paranormal, Reviews > Book Review – De Bello Lemures (The Roman War Against the Zombies of Armorica) by Lucius Artorius Castus and Thomas Brookside

Book Review – De Bello Lemures (The Roman War Against the Zombies of Armorica) by Lucius Artorius Castus and Thomas Brookside

January 31, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

Book Description:

A recovered Latin text tells the story of a struggle between Roman legionaries and the undead in 185 AD.

Lucius Artorius Castus leads an expedition to Gaul to defeat a rebellion against the rule of the Emperor Commodus – and gets more than he bargained for when his enemies rise from the dead to fight again. The power of the zombie horde is amplified by the Babel of Ancient Rome’s religions and superstitions, and the terror the undead bring in their wake foreshadows the incipient medieval darkness already creeping into the world at the end of Rome’s Antonine age. Richly annotated, this mashup of survival horror and alternate history takes the reader on a bracing journey into one of ancient Rome’s dark corners.

The book is structured as a work of nonfiction, with a foreword describing the history of the Latin document and its solecistic title, a “translation” of the text itself, and extensive footnotes. It is a loving homage to the paperback nonfiction products of university presses – a classics text reimagined as a postmodern horror tale.

Special Kindle Edition Bonus: The Kindle version of this title contains an 80 page free preview of Thomas Brookside’s new release THE LAST DAYS OF JERICHO.


I picked De Bello Lemures (The Roman War Against the Zombies of Armorica) to read just because I thought the idea of a mashup of ‘Zombies’ and ‘Roman history’ just too awesome to pass up 🙂 The set-up of this short book is that the author (Thomas Brookside) is providing a modern translation of a recently discovered (and very controversial) ancient Roman manuscript / letter written by one Lucius Artorius Castus. The controversy stems from the subject of the manuscript, which purports to document an infestation of zombies in Britain circa AD 185. Cool, huh? Sort of like a deadly serious ‘The Walking Dead’ gone Spartacus 😉

I liked that Mr Brookside obviously did exhaustive research on Roman history and zombie mythology, and mixed them together in this faux historical account. The story follows a now familiar path for zombie tales – it traces how the infestation starts and how the humans learn how to deal with it – and yet, it’s new and different also since, hello it’s AD 185!

As a horror book though, I never found the story really chilling or scary. At best, I can say there is a ‘mild’ horror and suspense to Lucius Artorius Castus’ first person account of the two days/nights he spent with the zombie menace (and indeed the ending is left up in the air). I understand that Mr Brookside skated a very fine line here, trying to make the story ‘believable’ as a translation of an ancient text, and yet, not alienate modern readers by boring us to death. The overall tone of the book was very dry and academic, and included a ton of footnotes you have to wade through (in keeping with Mr Brookside’s stated intent of a ‘homage to university presses’). After the first 10 or so footnotes, I found myself skipping the rest and just inferring from the surrounding text what the latin terms were supposed to mean. So, maybe it’s my fault that I didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I would?

Anyway, if you’re a zombie book lover, don’t pass this book by – it gets plus points just for originality and putting a new spin to the zombie myth. I’m wondering if the non-ending is so the author can write a sequel?

De Bello Lemures (The Roman War Against the Zombies of Armorica) by Lucius Artorius Castus and Thomas Brookside is available on Amazon as a Kindle edition ($2.99) or Paperback ($9.99).

The eBook is also available for $2.99 on B&N Nook.

P.S. The Kindle edition includes a pretty long preview of the author’s other book that’s out – THE LAST DAYS OF JERICHO. I’ve added it to my Amazon wishlist since the story seems interesting also.

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