I like to think that there is a good side to everyone; it's just harder to see in some than in others. It's easy to see the good in someone like Mother Theresa or The Dali Lama; but what about someone like Attila the Hun? Known for his bloodthirsty quest for power and cold-blooded disregard for life, it's hard to conceive that he may, indeed, have had a softer side. In 'The Hun and the General', Tristam LaRoche paints a very atypical image of Attila and manages to do so with little compromise to his malevolent reputation. Tristam reminds us that everybody needs somebody sometime, and, in Attila's case, it's the very unlikely choice of a Roman general named Livianus.
Calling this a love story would be stretching the definition to the limit. Their relationship was certainly one of respect, trust, and lust, but it was far from what most of us would call romantic. Yet, even though it was difficult for me to become emotionally attached to either character the way I have in most books I've read, Tristam did an excellent job of portraying the relationship between Attila and Livianus as mutually satisfying. I could feel Attila's great relief when Livianus arrived, especially in a time when Attila desperately needed counsel and physical satisfaction. He needed someone whom he could 'let his hair down' with. Livianus is the one person on earth that Attila feels no need to impress and most certainly the only one with whom Attila can satisfy his desire to be submissive. In the cruel times in which they live, where nothing and no one was sacred, that is a rare gift indeed. Livianus recognizes it as such too, and cherishes their bond as much as Attila does. They have found a special place in each other's heart, whatever anyone may call it, where no one else is permitted to be and that alone is noteworthy.
This is not a story for the faint of heart. It's bold, brutal, and cruel, yet Tristam's portrayal of these events makes it compelling because even with the dark side of the story, it is so well written that I wanted to see it through. I'd recommend 'The Hun and the General' to anyone who can appreciate a graphically told history lesson, intertwined with a great deal of poetic license to create a dynamic effect. Thank you, Tristam, for a very unique look into this era of time.
This book was provided by Etopia Press for the purpose of a review at QMOBooks.com.