Lady of the Light

The Light Bearer

Lady of the Light continues the saga of Auriane, a Germanic chieftain’s daughter who slew her tribe’s bitterest enemy in single battle, and esteemed Roman statesman Marcus Julianus, advisor to four emperors. Seven years have passed; Auriane and Julianus have been living in tranquility on the grandest estate in Germania Superior; their life is an idyll by a river. But it is not to last. A local Roman magistrate suspects that Auriane is the notorious smuggler all seek, responsible for secreting swords to her beleaguered Chattian people, still simmering from the recent war with Rome—and now he is poised to betray her. First, however, the magistrate means to claim Auriane’s younger daughter Arria Juliana for his brutish son, a prize he believes is his by right. And Marcus Julianus is being ruthlessly hunted by a fanatic loyalist who knows that Julianus’s was the secret hand behind the assassination of the tyrannical Emperor Domitian—and he’s determined to destroy Julianus for slaying his Lord and God. And when Auriane’s elder daughter Avenahar, whose soul is wholly Chattian, learns that her father was a despised Roman, her anguish is so great she runs off into her mother’s wild country and joins a band of Chattian forest fighters. Through it all, Auriane is alarmed to find the powers of a seeress stirring strongly in her—she cannot deny that the land is calling her home, but she would never willingly separate herself from Marcus and her children. But it is already too late. For now her birth fate is poised to claim her, in a way that will rend her family apart.

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Critical Acclaim for Lady of the Light

“The sequel to Gillespie’s elaborate Roman epic featuring proud warrior Auriane (The Light Bearer, 1994) finds the now middle-aged woman on the verge of retirement while comfortably ensconced in her lover Marcus Julianus’s estate with two daughters. It is AD 105, and Emperor Trajan rules over an uneasy conglomerate of nations in the Roman Empire. At the imperial border of Germany, where the ancient rivers Mosella and Rhenus meet, the Chattian chieftain’s daughter Auriane has lived in romantic accord for seven years with Marcus Julianus, the revered aristocratic Roman official and father of her nine-year-old daughter, Arria. Secretly, however, Auriane has been involved in a dangerous smuggling operation for her ragtag guerilla tribe, the Chattians, and is torn between her love for Marcus and her desire to help her people in their ongoing insurrection against Rome. And her fearless, hotheaded daughter, Avenahar — whose father, a Roman slave, Auriane was involved with during a time she’d rather forget — is determined to become a warrior like her mother. When her father’s fighting companion, Witgern, leader of the Chattian Wolf Coats, seeks out Auriane to help them, Auriane refuses out of love for Marcus and her children, yet she is forced to flee anyway (with Avenahar quick at her side) once the Romans find out she is the fugitive smuggler. Gillespie is an engaging, credible narrator of these far-flung events, and delights especially in the details of Avenahar’s womanhood ceremony, enacted deep in the ancestral Holy Wood in the presence of numerous elderwomen and sorceresses. When Avenahar bolts at the news of who her father really is, Auriane sets off to find her and with Marcus’s help enlists the might of the Roman army, although our feminist warrior is fed up with this senseless violence and vows to spend her last years as a seer. Gillespie provides yet another invincible heroine in Auriane’s daughter Avenahar — look for her apotheosis in the next installment.”

—Kirkus Reviews

“Gillespie (The Light Bearer) continues the adventures of her larger-than-life Germanic heroine, Auriane. In the first installment, Auriane, the daughter of a great "hero-chief" of her native Chattian tribe, was captured by the Romans and trained as a gladiator before being rescued by Marcus Arrius Julianus. Now, seven years later, Auriane and Marcus live in the frontier province of Germania Superior on a sprawling estate with their daughters, Avenahar and Arria Juliana. The idyllic interlude is interrupted when the Chattians, who are being threatened by another Germanic tribe, the Cheruscans, look to Auriane for their salvation. Torn between her people and her family, Auriane rejects pleas to return to personally lead the Chattian resistance, and instead steals from her husband to secretly fund the Chattians' defense efforts. When her activities are discovered, Auriane is tried for treason and sentenced to death. Compounding her troubles, Avenahar runs away and joins the Chattian resistance, an unknown assassin stalks Marcus and a political rival kidnaps Arria Juliana. This is historical fiction for adrenaline junkies: the pace is furious, the action ferocious and the suspense unrelenting.”

—Publishers Weekly

“Lady of the light is set in first century Rome and Germania, and a great deal of my pleasure in reading it came from immersing myself in that long-lost kaleidoscope of cultures; but its themes — the cost of love, the weaving of destiny, and the way our choices have unexpected consequences — are as contemporary as today’s headline news. I found myself compellingly engrossed in the conflicts and decisions faced by the heroine Aurinia … who finds her domestic tranquility destroyed by the swirling maelstrom of historical events. Aurinia, like most great heroines, is larger than life, especially in her battle heroics … but the fantasy elements never become fantastical, and serve to heighten the intensity of her experiences … my only regret on finishing Lady of the Light was that now I have to wait for the third volume of the trilogy to be written.”

—Sage Woman Magazine

“Gillespie has a real sense of time and place…all the cruelty, passion and treachery that we expect from Rome and her people come alive in Lady of the Light, the long-awaited sequel to The Light Bearer. This is an expertly paced page-turner from one of history's most exciting chapters.”

—Fresh Fiction