Tag Archives: Historical Fiction

historical background to vengeance of a slave

This book is the first in a series, following a family from their origins in Roman Britain.

The Batavian revolt indirectly led to the taking of Adelbhert and his sister as slaves, and hence began the tale told in Vengeance of a Slave.


This revolt took place between the years 69 and 70 CE. The Batavi was a small tribe living in Germania Inferior, near the Rhine delta. They sent some conscripts to Rome, who became what was known as The Germanic Bodyguard and were personal guards of the emperor.

The emperor Nero was becoming more and more despotic, and so the governor of Gaul, decided to try to do something about it. He found what he thought as a worthy successor to the emperor. A man called Galba. He fomented a revolution, Galba became emperor and Nero committed suicide.

Galba disbanded the Germanic Bodyguard because he mistrusted them as they had been loyal to Nero. The Batavian people took this as an insult.

After the death of Nero, Rome was plunged into civil war. There followed what is known as the Year of the Four Emperors. Galba’s deputy, Otho, overthrew him in a coup, then Vitellius prepared to take the Rhine legions to Rome to overthrow Otho. The Batavi joined the Rhine legions and overthrew Otho at the battle of Bedriacum.

After the battle, the Batavi were ordered to return home, but then Vespasian, commander of the forces in Syria, revolted. He was joined by the legions of the Danube.

Vitellius tried to conscript more than the agreed number of conscripts from the Batavi. This, on top of the insult of disbanding the Germanic Bodyguard, the brutality of the conscripting centurians and the sexual assaults on Batavian boys brought things to a head.

In the summer of 69, Civilis was commander of the Batavian troops in the Rhine regions. He persuaded the tribe known as Cananefates, to revolt and to attack a number of Roman forts.

This was a good time to do this since most of the troops were fighting the civil war in Rome.

The commander of the Rhine regions sent troops to put down this rebellion, leaving the rest of the area vulnerable. Civilis and his men defeated the Romans near what is now Arnhem.

To deal with this insurrection, the commander sent two legions, V Alaudae and XV Primigenea to fight them. These legions included some Batavian cavalry, who defected to their countrymen during the battle and so the Romans lost, after which the Batavians were promised independence.

Civilis wanted vengeance, however. He wanted to destroy the two legions. He besieged their camp. With the civil war in Rome, the Romans could do little about this. They did not have the troops to spare.

Then came the news of Vitellius’s defeat. This had been helped by Civilis pinning down two legions, but his aim was not to help Vespasian. He launched an attack on Krefeld, sending his eight best cavalry troops. This time, the Roman army was successful, destroying all eight troops, but at great loss to themselves.

Civilis then lifted the siege, saying that the legions could have free passage, providing they left everything behind for his men to loot. The two legions left with nothing, but a few kilometers away, they were ambushed and all of them destroyed.

Vespasian, once he had established himself on the throne, sent an enormous army to deal with Civilis and his rebels. On hearing of the approach of the army, one of Civilis’s allies surrendered, but Civilis himself continued to fight.

He made a series of raids from land and from the river, once capturing a Roman flagship. The Romans then invaded Batavia and the revolt was over.

It is against this chaotic time in the Roman Empire that Vengeance of a Slave is set. Adelbehrt’s father and some of the other villagers take the opportunity of a weakened army on the Rhine to raid across the river into the Roman lands. This leads to the terrible punishment of the men at the beginning of the book.

Here is a review of the book.

R. J. Krzak, Award-Winning Author

5.0 out of 5 stars 

A Riveting Story Set in Roman Times

Reviewed in the United States on 30 December 2019

Verified Purchase

Vengeance of a Slave by V.M. Sang is a riveting story set during the period when Rome controlled Britannia. Follow the trials and tribulations of Adelbhert after he and his sister are taken by the Romans from their mother. They eventually end up as slaves in what is modern-day London. Adelbhert performs a nightly ritual to remind himself of the suffering he and his sister have endured, beginning with the crucifixion of their father. He vows to escape and punish those who have wronged him.

V.M. has created a moving story which will keep you turning the pages to find out how Adelbhert and his sister handle their new life. Experience their sorrow, anguish, and finally hope as they adapt to their changing situation. This is the first novel I’ve read of V.M.’s and it certainly won’t be the last! Well done and highly recommended!

And a brief taste of the story.

In this extract, Adelelbehrt is growing up and is not the pretty small child he was when he became a pet. There is a threat to his life with his current owners.

One day, when the children had been slaves for six years, Marcus approached Adelbehrt.
“Have you a minute?” the older man asked.
Adelbehrt looked at Marcus. “What do you want?”
The boy sat on the edge of the impluvium and trailed his hand in the water. The domina did not seem to want him at the moment. In fact, she had not had much for him to do for a while now. He thought the novelty of his appearance might be wearing off, especially as he was now beginning to grow up.
He crossed to where Marcus emerged from the office of the dominus. What did the accountant want? He had little reason to ask Adelbehrt for anything. Marcus was an important man, even if a slave.
As Adelbehrt approached, Marcus began to speak. “How long have you been here now, Adelbehrt?”
“Six years.”
“That will make you about twelve then.”
The boy nodded “About that, I suppose.”
“Now I don’t want to worry you, but you’re growing up. You’re still an attractive boy—attractive enough to still be a pet—but as you get older, yes, from now on probably, the domina will find you less like her pretty, little slave boy.
“Your unusual hair colouring is no longer a novelty. No one comments on it any more. Soon the domina won’t want you as her slave and will find a new pet. Or perhaps she has already. Look at how she dotes on that little dog the dominus bought her.”
Adelbehrt looked at the older man. He had thought long about this himself. He noticed how the domina played with her puppy and spent less time with him. He wasn’t jealous. Not really. In fact, he often felt glad she had another toy to play with. After six years of petting and fussing he felt heartily fed up. Still, he found it galling to be ignored.
Marcus continued and he pricked up his ears and listened. It did not do to ignore one’s elders.
“I spoke to the dominus yesterday. It seems he’s noticed how his wife seems more concerned with her puppy than you and he talked about selling you.”
Adelbehrt drew in a sharp breath at that news and looked at Marcus.
“He said he’d noticed you liked the horses and are good with them, but he doesn’t need another slave in the stables. He thinks he can sell you as a stable lad, though.”
“But…” Adelbehrt did not know what to say. He thought of Avelina. Oh, the little girl seemed happy enough as Claudia’s slave, but she was still only ten summers old. She could not really remember their home by the Rhenus and had completely forgotten their native language.
Claudia treated her well. In fact, they were almost like friends rather than mistress and slave, but Adelbehrt had promised his mother he would look after her. How could he do that if the dominus sold him?

If you are interested in reading more about Adelbehrt and his sister Avelina, click on the link below.

The e-book is on offer for a mere 0.99 (£or $) from today, Saturday 28th until Wednesday 1st September.

It is also available in several other formats, including audio.

my latest book has gone to the publisher

This is not the final cover, but one I knocked up as a temporary measure.

On Saturday I sent the manuscript of Jealousy of a Viking to my publisher. This one has been long in the making. I don’t know why, but I seemed to want to go over it and over it.

Eventually I decided I had to bite the bullet and send it, so there it is—residing with the publisher until they can get around to dealing with it.

I know they have a load of books to publish, but it’s this waiting time I find so difficult. I’ll let you know as soon as I know something, of course. When that will be, who knows.

This book tells the story of Helgha, a young Viking girl who has to come to terms with jealousy both in herself and her lover’s wife.
This eventually leads to disaster, of course.

When I know a bit more of what is happening I’ll let you know, but until then, here’s a taster.


Helgha wrinkled her nose while digging up the bulbs of the ramsons plants. The pungent smell that arose as she dug tickled her nostrils. She looked at her spoils, decided she had gathered enough and picked up her basket.

The sun was sinking toward the horizon making the shadows of the trees creep like hands reaching to grab her. She shivered. Soon the wolves would be hunting.

A swishing sound, like footsteps in the dead leaves fallen from the trees sounded in her ears. She whirled around, her ash blonde hair whipping her face. No one from her village would be coming from that direction. The road led deeper into the forest and all the villagers would be at home now. Could it be an outlaw? Strangers were not to be trusted.

She looked around. She should not have stopped to gather the extra ramsons, even though, with the winter approaching, it would be needed for the inevitable coughs and colds.

Helgha listened. A blackbird scrabbled in the leaves under a small bush. A squirrel chattered at her from high in the tree above, angry at her presence. She drew her brows together. What had she heard?

Concentrating, she discerned a voice muttering, but could not make out the words. Who was this person speaking to? Did it mean more than one person approached? She looked at the shadows of the trees. They would help to hide her, but her walk back to the village would be in near darkness; dangerous for a girl out alone.

A young man leading a grey horse appeared from around a bend in the road. He murmured to the animal as he walked. Seeing the stranger, Helgha backed toward the bushes at the edge of the track. She hoped to make herself invisible in the shadows, but his eyes turned in her direction, the movement giving her away.

“Hey,” He looked toward where Helgha had pushed her way into the undergrowth. “Can you help me? I’m lost.”

Helgha backed farther into the bushes looking for somewhere to run. Perhaps the narrow animal track behind her would lead to a wider one where she could make her escape and run back to Thoringsby.

The branches snatched at her long skirts. I wish I were a man. Then I’d wear breeches. She pulled her grey woollen overdress from an elder bush.

The man called again. “I won’t hurt you. I only want to find a way out of this endless forest and back on the road to Jorvik.”

Helgha stopped. She could not go any farther. A large bramble bush prickled her back, its thorns penetrating the woollen cloak she wore.
The man dropped the horse’s reins and animal stopped, obedient to the signal. The stranger walked toward where he had seen Helgha before she pressed into the undergrowth.

“I understand why you’re afraid. I know strangers can be scary.” He smiled, making his grey eyes light up. “My name’s Erik.” He stopped walking and continued to speak. “I’m assuming there’s a farm or a village ahead and that’s where you’ve come from.”

Helgha stepped out from the bramble bush. She had to wrest her cloak free from the wicked thorns trying to pull her back. The man had seen her, so it was no use pretending she was not there. If he wanted to he could come after her. Anyway, she could go no farther with the dense brambles blocking her way.

“My home is a few minutes away.”

“Will you help me find a way out of the forest?”

Helgha looked at the man. He had light brown hair, a beard and a long moustache, as did most of the Danish men. His clothes looked of good quality and an expensive brooch pinned his cloak at the shoulder. She estimated him to be about eighteen years old—a few years older than herself.

As she looked at him, a hundred butterflies took flight in her stomach. She pressed her fist against it to try to stop their fluttering wings.

He’s not a beggar, nor even a poor man. Certainly not an outlaw, dressed in those clothes. And he has a friendly face. A handsome face. He’s lost as well.

She made a decision to help this man. As she began walking along the road, she beckoned Erik to follow. He picked up the reins and pulled his horse forward. It shook its head as if in denial before beginning to follow.

Helgha stopped and walked back to where the reluctant horse limped forward. She patted the animal talking gently to it. “You’re a beauty, aren’t you. Does your leg hurt?”

She turned to Erik. “What happened to your horse?”

“She tripped over something as we followed some game. I hope she’s not done too much damage to her leg. She’s a good horse.”

Helgha smiled. “Father’ll have a look at her when we get home. He’s good with horses. Have you walked far?”

“It seems like hundreds of miles.” He shrugged. “But it’s probably only a few.”

“How did you come to be lost?”

“My friends and I went hunting. As we cantered along, Stjarna tripped. The others rode on and I started to return to Jorvik. We’d ridden into a part of the forest we didn’t know—chasing a stag.’ He laughed. “He gave us a good run. I hope the others caught him. On the way back I must have taken a wrong turn somewhere.”

“You must have. We’re almost a day’s journey from Jorvik.”

“No wonder I felt I’d walked for weeks. I’ve gone in completely the wrong direction.”

They continued to walk along the forest road that wound between tall trees, mainly oaks, with bramble and bracken growing beneath their canopies. The leaves had begun to turn a yellow-gold and many had dropped to form a carpet beneath their feet. They swished like the sound of waves invading the beaches as their feet and hooves passed through them.

Helgha sniffed the air. A familiar scent reached her nose. This time of year fungi grew in abundance and people used them to flavour their stews.

“Wait a moment.” She rushed toward a fallen tree trunk where she picked some edible fungi from its bark. “These are good to eat. Mother will be pleased to have them.” She continued walking, looking back to see if he followed.

After a little while, the ground began to rise and the forest thinned. Shortly, the trees stopped altogether. Ahead a cleared area at the top of a little hill came into view. Fields surrounded the village with partially harvested crops growing in them. A small coppice of hazel grew on one side of the hill. The villagers used the wood for making everything from baskets to houses, and the nuts were a valuable crop for the winter.

As they climbed to the top of the hill a palisade with an open gate appeared. This was Helgha’s home. A large longhouse stood in the centre of the village surrounded by smaller ones in the same style. All the houses had thatched roofs that came almost to the ground. A frame of wood made up the walls, with a lattice of sticks woven between them. The houses had been made weatherproof by having a sticky clay substance daubed on thickly.

“Tie your horse here, Erik, then come into the house.” Helgha pointed to a post next to the palisade.

The Dane did as she bade him and followed her into the large longhouse.
The pair entered through a door set in the middle of one of the longer sides of the building. Compared to outside, the house was dark, but their eyes soon became accustomed. A fire pit glowed in the centre of the single room, the smoke curling toward holes cut in the thatched roof. These holes allowed light to enter as well as letting the smoke from the fire to escape.

One end of the longhouse was closed off. Animals shifted around in that space, and occasionally there came the lowing of a cow. The scent of the animals permeated the large room, mingling with the smell of the smoke from the fire. At the other end of the longhouse, a wooden wall closed off another room.

A double row of wooden pillars ran the length of the house. Wide benches filled the gaps between them. A sheepskin and a blanket lay on each bench.

Three boys, all younger than Helgha, sat on one of the benches playing some sort of game while farther down two women gossiped as they span wool into yarn.

A pot hung over the fire and a woman with ash blonde hair, very like Helgha’s, stirred it. The woman straightened and rubbed her back smiling at Helgha. “You’re back. I was becoming anxious as it’s getting dark. Who’s this you’ve brought?”

“This is Erik. I met him as I started for home. He was lost.”

As they talked, the door opened to admit a tall man with light brown hair. He walked over to the fire and warmed his hands. “It’s getting cold in the evenings,” He looked around and noticed Erik. “Who’s this?”

Erik stepped forward and introduced himself.

“So, my daughter found another stray. This one’s a bit bigger than most.” He laughed and put his arm around Helgha to give her a hug. “She has a kind heart and often finds something that needs looking after.” He turned to the girl. “Speaking of your waifs, you’d better go and see to that orphaned fawn you brought home. He’ll need to go back to the forest soon.”

Helgha turned with a glance toward Erik that set all the butterflies off in her stomach again. She dragged her feet through the door, pausing once more to look back at Erik and her father.

Helgha’s father was big and had the look of a warrior. He had a full, bushy beard and twinkling blue eyes that he now turned toward Erik.

“I’ll show you the road to Jorvik tomorrow,” Helgha heard him say as she left to feed the orphaned animal. “It’s going dark now and it’ll be dangerous to leave. Stable your horse with the other animals. Over there.” He pointed to the room holding some cattle and pigs.

Helgha left and entered the stable end of the house. She pulled some hay over to a young deer as Erik led his horse through the door. She stood and patted the mare. “What’s her name?”

Erik gave the horse some water. “Stjarna.”

“A pretty name,. But she’s a pretty horse so should have a name to match.”

Helgha’s father pushed the door open. “Let me have a look at your animal. She looks to have hurt herself.” He knelt down and ran his hand down the leg. The mare shifted as he touched a sore spot.
“ I don’t think there’s anything to worry about. It’s a bit bruised that’s all. Rabbit hole, was it?”

“Yes. I didn’t see properly. I was too busy getting up and looking where my friends had gone. I noticed she was limping, so I couldn’t chase after them.”

Although it was not close to the fire, the warmth of the animals kept the stable end of the house warm. When he had made his horse comfortable, Erik returned to the main part of the house, Helgha following.

Once they were back indoors, Helgha’s father said, “If you’re staying here tonight, I should introduce you to the family.” He laughed—a loud and cheery sound. “I’m Biorn. My wife is Ædelflaed. Helgha you know. Boys, come here,” he called to the three sitting in the shadows. “This is Hartvigg. He’s seen eleven summers. Then there’s Laeff. He’s seen nine summers and little Sigmund five. Helgha has fourteen, or is it fifteen? I forget sometimes.”

Ædelflaed shook her head. “Really!” she scolded, with a smile at her husband. “She’ll be fifteen in three weeks time. You know that as well as I do.”

“Well she’s fourteen now,” her husband argued and turned to Erik. “It’s late. You must stay tonight and I’ll show you the road to Jorvik tomorrow. Your friends? Will they be anxious about you?”

Erik laughed. “I expect so, and when they return to Jorvik without me, my father will no doubt punish them before sending them out to find either me or my body.”

When Ædelflaed served the stew and they all sat eating, Helgha watched Erik and followed his gaze as he looked at the round shield and battle-axe hanging on the wall opposite him.

He turned to Biorn. “You were a warrior then? When did you come here?”

“With the Great Army. We conquered this area. The Anglo-Saxons are weak fighters. It wasn’t too hard.”

“And you decided to stay?”

“Not straight away. I went back to Denmark. Then I came again. There was land here for the taking. Good land. Rich and fertile. I met Ædelflaed soon after that and we married.”

“Many came to settle,” Erik said. “My own family did. My father fought with the Great Army, too, and was there when they took Jorvik. He still tells tales of that battle; how the Anglo-Saxons tried to fight back, and we killed their leader.”

Helgha gazed at Erik throughout this conversation. She tried to memorise his features. She knew when he left she would not see him again. She thought he was the finest man she had ever seen. He was handsome and tall with the muscular body of a warrior.

He turned to look at her and she blushed. Erik smiled and that made her face heat up even more. The idea that he might know she liked him embarrassed her. She was only a young girl, but she was of marriageable age. Many girls as old as she was were married already.

Her parents would find her a suitable husband, and she would endeavour to be a good wife, but she wanted to remember Erik. She could dream of him at night and imagine his kisses, but only if she could remember exactly how he looked.

She had been watching him, remembering how he held his head and threw it back when he laughed. She noted the way he smiled. He loved his horse, too. She had watched as he patted it and spoke in a low voice so as not to startle it. Yes, she had enough stored to remember this man who had come so unexpectedly into her life and would as quickly leave it.

That night as she lay on the bench in her furs, she wept in silence for what could not be.

I hope you enjoyed this little taster of my latest work and are as anxious looking to read the rest as I am to hear more from the publisher.

What did you think about this first chapter? Does it whet your appetite for more?

If you want to find out more about me and my writing, then sign up to join my quarterly newsletter by clicking on the join button.


Audio book release

Hi. I just received an email saying that Vengeance of a Slave, my historical novel set in Britain at the time of the Romans, has been released as an audiobook. You can get a free 30 day trial of this book if you follow this link for the UK

and this for the US

If you do listen to it, I would be very grateful if you would post a brief review. Reviews are very important to authors and readers alike as there are so many books published it is difficult to know if a book is for you or not.

Last Day of free offer

Don’t forget that today is the last day to get my best-selling title, Vengeance of a Slave absolutely FREE.

It is currently number 2 in British and Irish Historical Novels and number 81 in Action and Adventure.

To get your FREE ebook, click in the cover in the sidebar, or here.

Here are a couple of reviews it got. For some reason, Amazon have taken these down, but they’ve left the stars. (I’ve heard of other writers who’ve had reviews removed for no apparent reason!) I can assure you, they were genuine reviews!

Randall Krzak

Vengeance of a Slave by V.M. Sang is a riveting story set during the period when Rome controlled Britannia. Follow the trials and tribulations of Adelbhert after he and his sister are taken by the Romans from their mother. They eventually end up as slaves in what is modern-day London. Adelbhert performs a nightly ritual to remind himself of the suffering he and his sister have endured, beginning with the crucifixion of their father. He vows to escape and punish those who have wronged him.

V.M. has created a moving story which will keep you turning the pages to find out how Adelbhert and his sister handle their new life. Experience their sorrow, anguish, and finally hope as they adapt to their changing situation. This is the first novel I’ve read of V.M.’s and it certainly won’t be the last! Well done and highly recommended!

D. W. Peach

Adelbehrt keeps a running list in his head of all the reasons why he hates the Romans—they crucified his father, stole him as a child from his mother, and enslaved him. As he grows into his teenage years as a slave, the list gets longer. With the help of a network of Britons, he escapes, determined to exact his revenge, but not everything is as clear cut as he once thought.

The plot is straight forward, and though there are some tense moments, battling and mortal danger isn’t the point of the tale. This story has a strong moral message about the nuanced nature of people and how they treat and judge each other. Ultimately, it’s about a young man’s growth and the events that change his perceptions as he matures.

The pace is moderate with some repetition, but I was engaged throughout. The historical details seem well-researched, adding to the authenticity of the story. Point-of-view focuses on Adelbehrt for most of the book, with occasional shifts to other characters, and all main and secondary characters felt believable to me. Adelbehrt is particularly well-rounded and likeable as the story centers on his thoughts and experiences.

Please add a comment in the comments box.

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Vengeance of a Slave

There are only 4 weeks left until the big moment.

Vengeance of a Slave

Will be released on Thursday December 26th

Make a note of it in your diary


Go to Amazon now and pre-order it.

This is my first venture into historical fiction. I really had an amazing time researching it and found out such a lot about the Romans and the way of life of the Celts who lived here when they invaded.

As a special thank you to all my readers, I am publishing an extract from the book on my blog on Thursday to mark the 4 week point.

You can order the book by clicking here, and it will take you to Amazon where you are. Or you can click on the book in the sidebar.

Vengeance of a Slave pays a visit to York.

Vengeance of a Slave is set partly in the city of York. Here it takes a visit to that city.

In Roman times, York was known as Eberacum, but this picture is in modern York, since my time machine is out of order at the moment!

Here you can see the walls of the city with the Minster in the background.


You can buy a copy of the book in both paperback or ebook by clicking on this link.bookinyork

Help Requested



I’ve written a book under the pen name of Emily Littler.

It’s a historical novel set in the time of Roman Britain. I decided to put it up on Kindle Scout. Kindle Scout is exactly what it says. Kindle scouting for authors who they then publish (rather than the author self-publishing.) They act just like the mainstream publishers in that they give an advance, (although small!) and do all the formatting and marketing as well as producing an audio version and foreign language translations.

In order to select the books, they hold a ballot. The book (s) with the most recommends will be accepted. All you need to do is click on the link below and then click on the button to nominate or recommend my book.

You can read extracts from it before you click, so you’re not nominating something you’ve not seen.

Please find a few seconds to help me. The link is below.


Viv Sang