Saturday, February 23, 2019

The IX Series

Have you availed yourselves of the hardcore sci-fi IX Series?
Take a peek at a little reminder of the journey so far
The IX
Roman legionaries, far from home, lost in the mists of Caledonia.

A US cavalry company, engaged on a special mission, vital to the peace treaty proposed by Presidential candidate Abraham Lincoln.

A twenty-first century Special Forces unit, desperate to prevent a nuclear catastrophe.

From vastly different backgrounds, these soldiers are united when they are snatched away from Earth at the moment of their passing. Thinking they may have been granted a reprieve, imagine their horror when they discover they have been transported to a failing planet on the far side of the galaxy, where they are given a simple ultimatum. Fight or die. Against all odds, this group of misfits manages to turn the tide against a relentless foe, only to discover the true cost of victory might exact a price they are unwilling to pay.

How far would you be willing to go to stay alive?

The IX. 

Sometimes, death is only the beginning of the adventure.

Exordium of Tears

Fight or die.
A brutal tenet by which the refugees from Earth – including the lost 9th Legion of Rome; the 5th Company, 2nd Mounted Rifles; and the Special Forces anti-terrorist team – were forced to endure while the Horde menace existed.

Now that threat is over, the survivors long to settle down and reclaim the lives stolen from them. However, such aspirations remain beyond their reach, for shadows loom on the horizon that not only threatens the future of Arden, but the universe too, revealing once again that…

Death is only the beginning of the adventure.

Prelude to Sorrow
The task force dispatched from Arden to eradicate the Horde menace failed, and for those few left alive, the tenet by which they have survived for so long resounds as never before.

Fight or Die!

Now marooned, out of time and out of place, the survivors lick their wounds and struggle to recover while the Horde gather their strength for a final strike that will change the course of history forever. The fate of the galaxy – and more – hangs in the balance.

But fate, it seems, isn’t done with the Ninth, and our heroes find themselves forced to mount a last-ditch attempt to end the threat once and for all.

Will the darkness be vanquished, or will our heroes’ efforts finally signal the beginning of the end of their adventure?


Still not sure?
Look at what some of the leading lights of speculative fiction had to say about the IX Series:

Amazing stories - The IX

Epicstream - Exordium of Tears

Black Gate Fantasy - Prelude to Sorrow

Now find out for yourself. The links are in the sidebar. . .

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

End of Year Revelations

For those who have followed the IX Series since its inception back in 2015, I think you’ll agree, it’s been a blast! To think that an idea spawned by true events, and mingled with a sprinkling of mythology here and a touch of fiction there, would grow into an epic critically acclaimed by some of the leading lights of speculative fiction – and enjoyed by readers from across the globe – still warms my heart, even now.

And it’s the readers especially that I’d like to thank, for they proposed a wonderful suggestion I’ve been chewing over for some time.

Yes, by way of review, messenger and email, fans kept asking if I’d ever considered writing more about the world of the IX, and in particular, those events leading up to the summoning of the Ninth Legion. Was it really necessary to call them? How did the previous intakes fail so badly? What was the fall of Arden like? And how did the Horde rampage manage to catch a civilization at the height of its power, one that had existed for more than twelve thousand years, by surprise?

When those queries started arriving, I must confess, I found it rather flattering. To think that I had touched readers deeply enough for them to want to delve into the history behind the IX was a dream come true. That’s what every author strives to do.
However, as the volume of those inquiries increased, I began to give them serious consideration. I thought about it some more and raised the question with the esteemed Janet Morris, owner of Perseid Press.

The result?

It is with a great deal of pleasure – and not a little trepidation – that I announce the undertaking of a new venture into the IX Universe. Starting in January 2019, I will begin laying the foundations of an IX “origins” story whereby the questions raised above – and more – will be answered.

It’s going to be a long ride, but I look forward to seeing where the journey eventually takes us.

(Stay tuned to my website and blog for more details/titles, etc, as things progress)

Monday, December 17, 2018

Black Gate Fantasy Review

Prelude to Sorrow

The most excellent folk over at Black Gate Fantasy recently expressed their thoughts on the final book in the IX Series , Prelude to Sorrow.

Here's the gist of what they had to say:

Weston’s done a good job with this series. He took an idea that had been used before and breathed real life into it. In the Horde, he’s created one of the most intriguing and monstrous villains of late. The battles, whether on the grounds of alien worlds or of ancient Earth, are gripping, and the reader feels every slash; every explosion. The exploration of the mysteries at the heart of the Horde’s onslaught and their gradual discovery is compelling. And the answers won’t make you groan with their obviousness. Above all, the ending is pretty cool. I should’ve expected it, but I didn’t, and that’s something that always make me happy. Yeah, The IX trilogy is a solid addition to the ranks of military sci-fi.

If you have a yen for the sort of military sci-fi written by the late Jerry Pournelle, then Weston’s series is for you. Actually, I take that back a little bit: something for which I praised Weston in my review of The IX was that he avoided the insufferable political pontificating of much military sci-fi. The series is also wonderfully lacking in glibness and the strawman villains that blight some contemporary military fiction. Weston has a big — nay, huge — story to tell. It’s packed with “Doc” Smith-worthy spaceships, self-sacrificing heroes, formidable enemies, and a few clever big ideas lurking in the background.

For the full review, please clink the link below:

Thank you to John O'Neil and Fletcher Vredenburgh in particular:
You guys rock!

Saturday, September 8, 2018

The Soldiers of The IX
The Special Boat Service

The Special Boat Service
Less well-known than their army counterparts, the Special Boat Service is the UK's naval Special Forces unit. Although the SBS is part of UK Special Forces – along with the SAS, SRR and SFSG – and its application can be made from members of the Army, Royal Air Force of Royal Navy, the vast majority of SBS operators tend to come from the Royal Marine Commandos.


The SBS began its history during World War 2 as the Special Boat Section, an Army commando unit tasked with amphibious operations. The men of the fledging unit were not particularly well trained or equipped but they were enthusiastic, resourceful and cunning. Usually working in 2 man groups, paddling ashore on canoes launched from submarine motherships, the teams would seek out and sabotage high value targets such as rail and communication lines. The first of such raids took place along the shores of Italy and the Mediterranean islands.
The fledging special operations force also developed anti-shipping skills, using canoes to sneak into harbors and plant limpet mines on the hulls of enemy ships. In November 1942, one group of Royal Marines, who were to become known as 'The Cockleshell Heroes', carried out an audacious attack on German shipping, a raid that took them far up the Gironde river where they sank 4 enemy ships.

Their expertise at clandestine infiltration made the SBS the perfect choice for inserting and extracting secret agents in the European theatre and this was a task they carried out many times throughout the course of the war.

1950s - Korea

The Korean war saw the SBS teaming up with specially formed 41 Independent Commando Royal Marines and the US Army to create a joint raiding force. Operation Double Eagle was to conduct sabotage missions along the Korean coast, launching raids from submarines and warships. Railway lines, tunnels, bridges and general targets of opportunity were all blown up by the raiding parties, damaging the North Korean's lines of supply and communications.
The Cold War

The Special Boat Squadron, as it was then known, was kept busy during the long standoff between East & West. Known activities include:

  • Inserting and extracting agents from Eastern Bloc coastlines.
  • Intelligence gathering on Russian naval capabilities. An example of this is when a pair of SBS divers covertly photographed and examined the hull of a new Russian Battlecruiser when it docked in the port of Gibraltar.
  • Role playing - along with the SAS, SBS would frequently play the role of Soviet Spetznaz (Special Forces) troops in mock attacks on NATO installations. Some believe that these exercises caused an overestimation of the Spetznaz's capabilities.
  • Coastline Reconnaissance - beaches and harbors of potential hotspots around the world were clandestinely examined with the aim of preparing the way for amphibious landings.
  • Training - SBS teams passed on their expertise to cold war allies and strategic friends. Amongst those instructed included the U.S. Navy Seals and the Sha of Iran's Naval Special Forces.

1970s - Counter Terrorism

The seventies saw a dramatic rise in terrorism throughout the world with politically motivated attacks in the Middle East and Europe. In 1975 Britain resolved to be ready to react to and prevent any acts of terrorism against its interests. The SBS were given the maritime counter terrorism role (MCT), with responsibility for protecting sea ports, ferries, cruise ships and oil platforms. The Special Air Service (SAS) would respond to all other incidents. In the event of very large installations being taken by terrorists, such as nuclear power plants, a combined response of SAS/SBS would be mustered.
In 1979 the increase in off-shore oil installations prompted the formation of 'Commachio Company', 300 Royal Marines trained to respond to terrorist incidents amongst North Sea oil fields. The SBS provided a section, 1SBS, to Commachio Company, whilst another stayed at Poole to cover all other MCT responsibilities.

1982 - The Falklands Conflict

The SBS saw action in the South Atlantic in 1982 when Britain retook the Falklands from the Argentineans. They carried out reconnaissance weeks ahead of the arrival of the main task force, laying up in hides cut into the barren landscape. The SBS, along with the SAS and Royal Marines were responsible for retaking South Georgia, which although militarily insignificant, was a great morale boost for both the approaching task force and the British public.
The night before the planned landing of British forces at San Carlos, the SBS cleared Fanning Head, a hill that overlooked San Carlos Bay. The Argentinean defenders were shelled up by Naval Gunfire whilst the SBS assault force were flown in. After calls for the Argentineans to surrender were answered with gunfire, the SBS attacked, killing 12 and taken more prisoners. This was a small but vital operation. The Argentineans on Fanning Head were manning heavy weapons that could have been brought to bear on the landing force.
Another notable incident occurred when a force of SBS assaulted an Argentinean spy trawler that had been shadowing the British fleet. The ship had been damaged by bombs and cannon fire from an earlier attack by Navy Sea Harriers and was listing badly when the assault force arrived in 2 Sea King helicopters. Using techniques developed for maritime counter terrorism, the SBS assault team fast-roped onto the deck and quickly secured the ship without any shots fired. Along with the shaken crew, vital intelligence documents were also retrieved and flown back to the fleet. This was the first air-to-ship storming of a hostile vessel in military history.
Towards the end of the conflict, with British forces closing on the capital, Port Stanley, a joint SBS/SAS mission was launched against Stanley harbor. The plan was to put in a diversionary attack from the sea, to draw Argentinean forces and attention away from the main defensive line. 

1987 - Formation Of M Squadron

The SBS's counter terrorism role is expanded with the amalgamation of 2 existing SBS sections into M squadron which now took over the MCT role from Commachio Company.
The SBS becomes the Special Boat Service and is taken under control of UKSF, an organization comprising the SAS, SBS and 14th Intelligence Company. All 3 services come under control of the Directorate of Special Forces (DSF).

Since then, the SBS have been active at many garden spots around the world.

You might be wondering what it takes to join such an elite force? Here’s a condensed prĂ©cis of the selection procedure:


To be eligible for selection, a candidate must be male, and must have have served in the military for at least 18 months and have 3 years left to serve.

Joint Selection

Stage 1 - Special Forces Briefing Course (2 Days)

Candidates are shown what to expect as a Special Forces soldier with a series of lectures and tests. Basic skills such as swimming, map reading and basic fitness are tested.

Stage 2 - Endurance (4 Weeks)

Kicking off endurance is a Battle Fitness Test which weeds out anyone without a basic level of fitness.
Designed to test fitness and determination, the first 3 weeks of selection take place amongst the barren hills of the Brecon Beacons in Wales. A series of timed marches is undertaken. Wearing heavy bergens, candidates must navigate themselves over the steep hills along a series of way points. Endurance not only tests stamina, but also the ability to keep going whilst suffering inevitable blisters, cramps and the tender affections of the frequently harsh climate. Over the 3 weeks, the marches get progressively longer, and the bergens get heavier. The climax of this phase is known as 'the long drag' - a 40 km march that must be completed in less that 20 hours.

Stage 3 - Initial Continuation Training (4 Weeks)

Basic SF skills of weapon handling, patrolling and demolitions are taught. Candidates who can't absorb and apply these skills are RTU'd. (Returned to Unit).

Stage 4 - Jungle Training

In the heart of thick rainforests in Belize, UKSF jungle training pushes the candidates to their limits of endurance. The particular skills needed to meet the demands of navigating, patrolling, fighting and surviving in dense jungle are taught and practiced. A series of exercises tests the student's ability to apply what they have learned.
Stage 5 - Combat Survival (4 weeks)
Combat survival features a series of lectures on escape and evasion techniques, followed by exercises in which the candidates are hunted down and captured by other troops (often Royal Marines or Parachute Regiment). Once captured, students are subjected to intense interrogation. Whilst waiting for tactical questioning (TQ), candidates are placed in stress positions, deprived of food and water and sleep and subjected to white noise. They are then interrogated and must only give their name, serial number, date of birth and rank. All other questions must be answered with a stock reply : 'I cannot answer that question'.

After Joint Selection

The few that make it through the 1st 5 stages of selection have achieved a major milestone. And this is where our candidates’ part ways. Those wishing to join the SAS are awarded their beige beret and then assigned a squadron and troop.

However, SBS candidates go on to face a final – and extremely rigorous – section which tests their ability in the water.

Swimmer Canoeist (SC3) Training Course

The SC3 course involves training in diving in all conditions, canoeing (often over long distances), underwater demolitions, beach reconnaissance and surveying techniques. Any man that has reached this stage of selection is technically in the SBS but is considered under probation and subject to being RTU'd if he fails to measure up.
If he passes that probation . . . the world is his oyster!

That completes our roundup of the soldiers of The IX. I hope you enjoyed the tour. Be sure to look out for aspects of the details we've discussed the next time you read any of the current books from the IX Series, as I'm sure you'll be delighted to spot them in the way each group of soldiers operate under the harsh conditions they face. 

And remember - Fight or Die! Death is only the beginning of the adventure. . .

Sunday, September 2, 2018

The Soldiers of The IX

The United States Calvary

United States Cavalry
I found it surprisingly difficult to find the information I needed regarding the United States Cavalry, especially for the time period covering the events mentioned within The IX.
So, much of what you will read pertains to the history and development of such units.
America raised cavalry units for service during the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812. Because of the great expense in maintaining mounted units these were not retained in the service afterwards and no longstanding traditions developed around them. In the forested lands of the East and where travel by river was common, mounted troops were not seen as having any advantages over ordinary infantry.
Prior to 1832 the only mounted units that served with the U.S. Army were state militia units who were called up for brief tours of service during emergencies. These units were limited to 90-days of service by law and lacked the skills and training needed to function as first class cavalry units. Once the plains became more populated the lack of mobility of infantry became a problem and in June of 1832 Congress approved a Battalion of Mounted Rangers. This experiment proved successful, and on March 2, 1833 Congress authorized a larger unit which this time was called The Regiment of U.S. Dragoons. Most European armies had dragoons, who were originally mounted infantry and structured and trained similarly to infantry units. Over time they evolved towards being light cavalry and Congress may have not been particular in its choice of the word “Dragoon” rather than “Cavalry” in naming the unit. Additional regiments of mounted troops were approved in the following years including one named the Regiment of Mounted Riflemen who were armed with the Model 1841 rifle rather than the more common musket of the period.

It was not until 1855 that the U.S. Army created units that were actually called cavalry. At the time of their creation they were distinct in being armed with Colt Navy pattern pistols, a new-fangled weapon for its time, but one that soon proved its worth. By the outbreak of the Civil War the regular army had five mounted regiments; two each of dragoons and cavalry and one of mounted riflemen. In August 1861 it was decided to rename all these units 'cavalry'. and they were numbered according to their seniority.
During the American Civil War additional volunteer cavalry were raised by various states and mustered into federal service. (272 regiments in all).
Early in the war, the then Major General Commanding the Army, Winfield Scott, discouraged the formation and acceptance of cavalry, his logic being the time and training it took to produce such soldiers when the war would be short. However, the later success of the Southern cavalry units soon changed opinion, and his policy was eventually reversed.

Early in the war Federal cavalry was judged not to have been the equals of the Confederates and was not used effectively. Stuart literally rode circles around the Union Army, frustrating the Union command and garnering a lot of publicity. However, what he achieved in the long run was a determination by his enemy to improve their cavalry arm, and by the 1863 Battle of Brandy Station it was Stuart who was surprised and given a bloody nose by the newly invigorated Union cavalry. Although the Confederates held the field and ultimately launched the Gettysburg campaign, the experience may have encouraged Stuart to try to regain his reputation with an over-extended raid that increasingly took him farther away from the main body of the Confederate Army of Robert E. Lee. His raid contributed to his ultimate failure to arrive on the battlefield in a timely manner and did little damage to the Union Army both materially or psychologically. When he did arrive he was checked by an equally aggressive (perhaps to the point of recklessness) Union cavalry leader in the person of George Armstrong Custer. Toward the end of the war the Union cavalry mounted destructive raids into southern territory, were armed with newly invented breach loading carbines that the industrial base of the South could not match and had perfected massive remount and veterinary capabilities that kept its troopers in the saddle and its artillery horses in their traces. The Confederate cavalry, on the other hand, was running out of horseflesh and found itself outnumbered and on the defensive. One can only wonder if Lee had had a better cavalry force available at the time of Appomattox might he have been able to slip away. However, the fate of the Confederacy was sealed before the first gun was fired, and the war would have ended with a Union victory so long as the northern population preserved the will to fight and had effective leadership.
During the Second World War tanks or assault guns were often rushed to the front and committed to combat with the paint barely dry so long as crews were available. This is not the case with cavalry mounts in the 19th Century. Immature and untrained horses are useless as cavalry mounts, and since wars last only so long they have to be fought with the existing inventory of animals. Combat, poor care, disease, stress, inadequate diet, lack of forage, hard road surfaces and carelessness all took their toll on horse flesh and the armies used up a large numbers of horses and mules. The price of animals steadily increased during the war, and there were standards written for purchasing agents of the quartermaster corps to follow in judging the fitness of the animals for service. The war did not distinguish between civilian and military horses either. Both armies often filched horses from civilians when operating in enemy territory. This was done both to supply the needs of the service but more important to deny their use to the enemy. At the end of the Civil War the Army sold its surplus of 104,000 horses at public auction.
With the end of the Civil War the United States embarked on a course of economic growth and westward expansion. In 1866 Congress authorized a total of 10 regiments of cavalry plus a corps of Native American Scouts. The 9th and the 10th Cavalry Regiments were composed of African-American soldiers and acquired the nickname of “Buffalo Soldiers.” In 1868 this force was scattered among some 59 outposts across the western states. Life was hard and conditions primitive. One cavalry officer commented in his memoirs that he never knew of any man, soldier or civilian, in the region who died a natural death. This was the period of the Indian Wars and cavalry units were employed were pursuing a foe who possessed a warrior ethos, superb horsemanship skills, superior knowledge of local conditions, and most surprisingly, often superior weapons purchased from white traders. The Native American tribes, despite their well-known successes such as the Fetterman Fight or the Little Bighorn, were as doomed as was the Confederacy to inevitable subjugation by sheer weight of numbers and persistence. The last act of hostility between Native American warriors and U.S. soldiers was the December 29, 1890 Wounded Knee Massacre which pitted the 7th Cavalry Regiment against a band of Lakota Sioux Indian including many women and children. Neither side was looking for a fight but a misunderstanding while the soldiers attempted to disarm the Indians touched off a fusillade of gunfire and the following massacre. It would be wrong to say that the Native Americans did not put up resistance or that soldiers did not die, but for the most part the characterization of the event as a massacre of Indians is accurate in that the soldiers fired on all the assembled natives indiscriminately. Even the Army was uncomfortable with the events, and General Nelson Miles, commander of the Department of the Missouri, denounced the colonel of the 7th Cavalry and relieved him of command.
As you know, I invented a fictitious long range reconnaissance patrol – the 5th Company, 2nd Mounted Rifles – who I thought would be a superb forum to bridge the gap between the ancient Roman army and the modern-day Special Forces team. To add the ‘real life’ factor, I thought it would be a nice idea to tie this improvised unit into our chronological timeline by committing them to a never reported special mission, vital to the actual peace treaty proposed by Abraham Lincoln when he was a Presidential candidate. That allowed me to introduce fictional characters linked to other persons from recorded history; Captain James Houston in particular who features broadly throughout the trilogy.

That completes this week’s overview of the soldiers of The IX. Next week, we’ll remind ourselves of the smallest contingent to be snatched away to Arden. The Special Forces guys of the Special Boat Service.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

The Soldiers of The IX
The Roman Legion

Roman Legions:

The Roman legions were the fighting force which allowed Rome’s territories to expand across three continents, and quite frankly, they were unmatched, both in their professionalism and their ability to roll out a sustained level of fighting attrition over a protracted period. However, it took several centuries for the Roman army to form into the fighting force of renown which would eventually take Rome's territories far beyond the Italian peninsula.

You see, the legions that many people think of were not actually established until 107 BCE under the Marian reforms. Before this date, the legion was used to refer to the entirety of the Roman army. There are three distinct periods in Roman military history: an early era in which the phalanx formation was used; the maniple formation used between 315 BCE and 107 BCE; and the cohorts used from 107 BCE onwards.

Early Era
During the Roman Kingdom and early Roman Republic (753 BCE to 315 BCE), Rome utilized the Greek-style phalanx formation. This style of fighting was prevalent throughout Italy at the time of Rome's conception and was used for several centuries.
The majority of the army was infantry based who were equipped with a spear and shield. The soldiers were tightly packed, and each man would protect the soldier to his left with his shield. Each phalanx unit would be sixteen men deep. After the initial impact, the soldiers behind the first line would begin to push, forcing the first line to fight and preventing any gaps in the formation from appearing.
According to Polybius, the phalanx was the perfect formation when fighting on a battlefield which was at least 3,500 meters in width with no obstacles which could prevent flanking movements. Despite being a formidable formation face on, if flanked or reared it was incredibly fragile.

In 315 BCE, during the Samnite Wars, the phalanx was replaced by the maniple. This was a much more flexible system that was not hindered by rough terrain and was vital in Rome's victory over Samnium.

There were several changes to weaponry and armor: the hoplon shield was substituted for a scutum shield. Which better allowed for a soldier to defend himself rather than relying on the man to his right. The spear (hasta) was substituted for the sword (gladius) and javelin (pila).
Four new units were used: the Velites, Hastati, Principes and the Triarii.
  • Velites - were very lightly armored infantry armed with javelins (pila) and a short sword. They would be positioned at the front of the Roman battle line. They would launch their pila at the enemy before falling behind the other lines.
  • Hastati - were medium armoured infantry armed with a sword (gladius). They would serve as the front line of the army and would be first into the hand to hand combat. These were among the youngest soldiers and were eager to prove themselves in battle.
  • Principes - were heavy infantry armed with a sword (gladius) and better armor than the Hastati. They were the second line of infantry behind the Hastati. These men were in their late twenties and had considerable experience on the battlefield.
  • Triarii - were heavy infantry armed with a sword (gladius) and better armor than the Principes. They were the final line of infantry and would only join the battle if they were required. Usually, the two front lines of the army would be able to finish the fight before the Triarii were required. These were the most experienced men in the Roman army.
The army preferred to deploy fifteen maniples in each line, all consisting of eighty men commanded by a centurion – however, they often fielded less than this. On arriving at the battlefield, the Roman army would set up in a chequered formation, resembling a chess board. The Velites at the front, the Hastati as the front line of infantry, the Prinipes as the second line of infantry and the Triarii at the rear of the formation.
Once the battle began the Velites who were deployed on the front line would launch their pila as soon as the enemy came within range. After throwing all of their projectiles, they would fall back between the gaps in the chequered formation.
The Hastati would then launch their pila before engaging in melee combat. If the battle was not going in Rome's favor, the Hastati would fall back behind the Princeps. The same would apply to the Princeps if they were under too much pressure they would fall back to regroup and allow the most experienced units, the Triarii, to be deployed.

The flanks of the army were protected by three hundred cavalrymen. The cavalry performed various functions: they were to strike the enemy's flank and rears in swift assaults before retreating to strike again. Secondly, they were used in skirmishes and to chase down any fleeing enemy. Thirdly, they were used for reconnaissance and intelligence gathering.


In 107 BCE, Gaius Marius was elected consul and introduced the Marian reforms, broad sweeping changes to the military which transitioned it into the legions which helped dominate and maintain the Rome's domains.
The Roman army was organized into legions of 4,800 soldiers. Each legion was split into ten cohorts of 480 soldiers. This added flexibility as all ten cohorts could be brought together to fight as one entity or be divided into smaller forces each capable of operating on its own.

On the other hand, it would take several hours for the cohorts to march from camp to their formation on the battlefield, due to the size and complexity of the legion. To reduce the time it took, the cohorts would march in a specific order. The cohort located on the far right of the battle line would march first followed by the unit located to its left and so on. Once the legion arrived at the battlefield, the first cohort would stop and march to the right until the entire Roman line was in position. The Roman formation would unfold like a snake. For enemies who had never faced Rome would undoubtedly be intimidated by the sheer organized nature of the legion.
In the first century CE, Roman skirmishing units were replaced by auxiliary units. For example, Cretan archers and Numidian javelin throwers. Additionally, when Augustus established the auxiliaries in around 30 BCE, the Roman cavalry was replaced with auxiliary cavalry from the provinces.
The full army
The cohorts were a flexible system which could be deployed in numerous ways. However, the preferred deployment was to have a center of two legions which were flanked with auxiliary infantry. This was then supported by cavalry on the flanks. This was used at the Battle of Watling Street, where Rome won the defining battle against Boudicca despite being heavily outnumbered.
The Roman legion could change to accommodate for factors such as terrain, enemy, and weather. Vegetius wrote of various formations used by the Roman army.
    • A single long line which could be used on open battlefields where the Roman army outnumbered the enemy. The Roman line would envelop the enemy and completely surround them.
    • A line which would form an obtuse angle, similar to an 'L'. One wing of the legion would engage the enemy, and then the other wing would attack the exposed flank and rear of the enemy.
    • A line where both flanks of the enemy were more densely packed with the center being weaker. This would allow the enemy to break through the soft center and the wings could envelop the enemy.
    It would be the general's responsibility to choose the most efficient formation based on the relevant factors. He was ultimately responsible for the success or failure of the legion.
    The battle would start with the front lines launching their pila into the enemy before moving back into their compact battle formation. The front lines would then charge the enemy; this would result in a rush of adrenaline, and the impact would hopefully break the enemy providing an easy victory. Only the soldiers at the front of the formation would fight hand to hand; this would leave a majority of soldiers out of combat and rested. After short periods the commander of the unit would issue the order for the men at the front to step back and for the men behind to take their place. By constantly cycling the soldiers it would keep them fresh, avoid combat fatigue, and grant the legion an advantage the longer a battle continued . . . and THIS is the fighting style we see employed by Marcus Brutus and his men in The IX!

Next week, we’ll take a look at the US Cavalry.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

The Soldiers of the IX

By now, most of you will know the premise of The IX, a science fiction space opera portraying an alternative scenario as to the fate of the legendary “lost” 9th Legion of Rome who marched into the mists of Caledonia circa 100 AD and were never seen again.

I took the enigma of their disappearance further and used it as the inspiration behind my idea – adding a frictional nineteenth century U.S. cavalry unit on a secret mission for Presidential candidate Abraham Lincoln, and a near-future SBS Special Forces anti-terrorist team to the mix.

That recipe proved successful, attracting the attention of the esteemed Janet Morris, who invited me to write for her independent press. The first book in the series, The IX, was published in e-format, trade paperback and hardcover in 2015.
The series has been critically acclaimed by some of the leading lights of speculative fiction, Nebula award winners, film and TV pundits and various award winning science fiction and fantasy sites. Indeed, it held the #1 slot, internationally, for six of its first twelve months in print.
I’m pleased to say; the series managed to maintain a healthy momentum, with the release of the sequel – Exordium of Tears – in 2016, and now, in February of 2018 with the much anticipated concluding chapter, Prelude to Sorrow.

But why did I choose those particular soldiers to accompany the legionaries on their epic journey?

What is it about their training that I felt would add the right ingredients to an already spicy recipe?

And how would a combination of their skills and expertise swing the tide in a relentless war?

Find out for yourselves from next week, as we take a look at:

Roman Legions. Part I of - The Soldiers of The IX