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Imperial Governor!
#1
Ave!

IMHO George Shipway's "Imperial Governor" is the best historical novel about Roman Britain and the Roman army ever written.

If you agree with that statement and you own a copy of the book add your thoughts to mine. The purpose of this topic is to find out how many of you own this book. The "Imperial Governor" appreciation society!!

If you don't own a copy of the book try http://used.addall.com you can find it there. A search returned 148 copies of the book. Buy a copy, read it and review it for us. Let us see if you will agree with the opening statement.

If you don't agree with the opening statement start your own topic with your candidate for the honour. Don't discuss or debate the reasons for your choice within this topic.

He had the gift of bringing the period to life and allowing us to see into the mind of the narrator. I'm fascinated by his detailed descriptions of the structure of the Roman provincial organisation. Also, where the various units were garrisoned and their composition. His vivid descriptions of the battles are second to none.

I have read and re-read this book so many times that it's slowly coming apart. So I went out and bought another paperback to read and a hardback to save.

Just imagine the possibilities if this book had been made into a movie.
Just imagine the possibilities if this book had been made into a series.

If the first were to happen who would you cast as the principal players? You are free to choose a cast of epic or modern stars. Who would you choose to direct the film? Where would you shoot the film?

If the second had happened can you see how the series would have begun and how it would have progressed? What titles would you have given each book? Where would you have ended the series?

It will be interesting to read your collective thoughts on "Imperial Governor".

Vale

M. Spedius Corbulo
[Image: spedius-mcmxliii.gif]
~~~~~~Jim Poulton~~~~~~
North London Wargames Group
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#2
Just for the count, I own a copy of "Imperial Governor" and thoroughly enjoyed reading it. I don't know if it's my all-time favorite Roman army book, though, but I appreciated its historical accuracy. Strictly from the writing style and the story, I think I liked "Eagle in the snow" better (although the romans seem to look like first century troops, not 4th). But I really liked the battles and the whole sense of "everything is lost" in that one.
Aka
Christoph
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#3
Thanks for the pointer. I got it second-hand at a very reasonable price, and so far it's truly excellent (albeit a bit dated). I wish there was more Roman fiction like that.
Der Kessel ist voll Bärks!

Volker Bach
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#4
Ave Christoph and Volker,

Thank you both for your comments, welcome to the thread.

Christoph, I'm suprised that you don't count "Imperial Governor" as your all time favourite?

Volker, would you care to expand on your "albeit a bit dated" remark?

Here's what the back cover had to say about the book.

"The Roman, Lord of Britain

Britain in AD 59, a wild territory of warlike tribes and human sacrifices was reputed to be the possessor of untold mineral wealth.

The Roman Governor had one inflexible order: make Britain pay. Two women welcomed the Roman sword, each in her own way:

Cartimandua, lovely queen of the Brigantes, enticed the new governor into her chariot and then into her bed.

Boadicea - big-boned, a massive figure of a woman - incited the Iceni to rebellion and hacked her way through the Roman legions with armoured chariots
."

Vale

M. Spedius Corbulo
[Image: spedius-mcmxliii.gif]
~~~~~~Jim Poulton~~~~~~
North London Wargames Group
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#5
I would put Imperial Governor on my favourites list. I remember reading it in the early 1970s, when I would have been but a wee lass, and I didn't really get on with it :oops: But by the late 1970s, when I read it again, I thought it was great! Loved it ever since, and immediately bought a copy of the re-issued paperback in 2002.

The review on the back says ' ... I am reminded of Alfred Duggan' Indeed! Shipway has the same type of dry humour.
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#6
Ave Viventius,

Hi again, I trust you are keeping fit and healthy, welcome to this thread.

If you had picked "Imperial Governor" up for the first time, read it and someone asked you to review the book, how would you set about this and what would you write?

Vale

M. Spedius Corbulo
[Image: spedius-mcmxliii.gif]
~~~~~~Jim Poulton~~~~~~
North London Wargames Group
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#7
Ave!

It is my sincerest wish that, through our writings in this topic, we can introduce many more members to this enthralling book.

Volker Bach has experienced the pleasures of reading "Imperial Governor" for the first time.

Could he be the first of many? It's up to us to ensure that he is.

This extract is from the first page in my copy of the book.

"Imperial Governor

Written in the form of the memoirs of Suetonius Paulinus, former governor of Britain, this superb novel relates how he stove by force of his legions and by diplomacy both political and amorous to bring the territory under Roman domination. George Shipway vividly evokes the ferocious human struggle that reeled across the wolds, valleys, mountains and fens of Britain in every kind of weather. It is the story of a strong and capable man's frustrations, culminating in the rebellion of the British queen Boudicca (Boadicea), and the bitter vengeance which led to his downfall
."

A review.

"How superbly George Shipway manages his story ... I found the novel engrossing. Through its unforced realism and imaginative insight it vividly brings alive a fascinating phase of the Roman occupation of Britain" THE SCOTSMAN

Add your voice to ours, write about how much you've enjoyed reading "Imperial Governor".

Vale

M. Spedius Corbulo
[Image: spedius-mcmxliii.gif]
~~~~~~Jim Poulton~~~~~~
North London Wargames Group
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#8
Quote:Volker, would you care to expand on your "albeit a bit dated" remark?

Well, it clearly was written at a time when someone who is intimately familiar with Roman history and archeology could still believe that Principate-era Roman troops wore flexible leather corselets, and that the segmentata was created by riveting metal hoops onto those. Today, I would expect this from a third-rate hack, but the author obviously did his research, so he must have done it at a time before the Corbridge and Newtstead finds were common knowledge. Ante Connolly, so to speak

Also, it is fairly clear from the way the book on the one hand readily deals with all kinds of sex, yet at the same time uses rather stilted, refined language for it ("a mangificent sheath for male tumescence") that it dates to an earlier period - one in which outright sex scenes in literature were not yet common, nor was sex routinely written about, but the taboo was being loosened.

Thirdly, the way the author uses military parlance and unit designations ('Indus' Horse' and 'Petra's Horse' for ala Indiana and Petrana, a 'cutter', the 'first flight') says that he was exposed at one point (I'm guessing during his youth or military service) to the pre-1945 military culture of the British forces. He sounds to all the world like a regimental officer of the Raj.

Fourthly, it is rare today to find any author, military background or not, to speak so plainly and honestly about the dark side of Empire, the brutal choices of war, and the suffering it entails without getting preachy. It sounds to me like he has been there, as it were.

Hence mny guess - Britain in the 50s or 60s.
Der Kessel ist voll Bärks!

Volker Bach
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#9
Ave Volker,

Thank you for your swift and detailed reply.

I do follow your reasoning and agree with you on all points. However, I feel that, even with these points, the book still stands head and shoulders above it's rivals.

This is what Wikipedia had to say.

"George Shipway
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

George Shipway was a British author best known for his historical novels, but he also tried his hand at political satire in his book The Chilian Club.

Shipway was born in 1908, and served in the Indian Imperial Cavalry until 1946. He died in 1982. His cavalry background served him well when he took up writing - his descriptions of cavalry battles are full of minute details.

Books

* Warrior in Bronze
* King in Splendour
* Imperial Governor
* The Paladin
* The Wolf Time
* Knight in Anarchy
* Free Lance
* Strangers in the Land
* The Chilian Club

This article about a UK writer or poet is a stub. You can help Wikipedia by expanding it.
"

This is from the dust jacket of my hardback copy of the book, Peter Davies, 3rd Edition, 1972, ISBN 432-14750-0:-

"George Shipway Born 1908, lived in India until 1919. Educated at Clifton and the Royal Military College, Sandhurst. Gazetted in the Indian Army in 1928, and served until 1947 in the Indian Cavalry. Retired from the Army in that year with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. Taught at a boy's school in Hampshire from 1949 to 1968. Author of Knight in Ararchy, The Chilian Club and The Paladin."

Does anyone else have any more details about George Shipway?

You correctly identified George Shipway's background and what influenced his style of writing. We can only imagine what horrors he saw in India during the Second World War.

Vale

M. Spedius Corbulo
[Image: spedius-mcmxliii.gif]
~~~~~~Jim Poulton~~~~~~
North London Wargames Group
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#10
According to Alan Fisk's article The cavalryman rides again: the historical novels of George Shipway in Solander Vol 7 No 1 May 2003, pages 4-6, Shipway was born in India, in Allahabad. So he was very much a product of the British Empire. I'm not about to type out the whole article, so there may be mileage in you contacting Alan direct! Check out his website: http://www.geocities.com/athens/delphi/1869/ Meanwhile, I'll email Alan to tell him that there's some serious Shipway action going on at RAT Big Grin
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#11
I've already mentioned here that I own a 2002 reprint of Imperial Governor, plus Alan has also pointed out that the 2002 reprint is still available on Amazon UK at:

[amazon]Shipway, Imperial Governor[/amazon]

There's even the opportunity to 'search inside' before you purchase!

*prettified URL, JO*
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#12
Or with a slightly prettier link: [amazon]Shipway, Imperial Governor [/amazon]
Greets!

Jasper Oorthuys
Webmaster & Editor, Ancient Warfare magazine
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#13
Ave Viventius,

Once again you've come up with some very useful links and most helpful information. I've awarded you a kahma point for your friendly advice.

You have tirelessly informed us, time and again, of where to look and what we will find when we do, thank you.

However, I respectfully ask if you would mind adjusting your last link as it's messed up our viewing of this topic?

Vale

M. Spedius Corbulo
[Image: spedius-mcmxliii.gif]
~~~~~~Jim Poulton~~~~~~
North London Wargames Group
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#14
Just as well Jasper tidied it up for me, as I would have not been certain how to do so :roll:

Alan has said that he'll let me have the text of his article, and I'll put it on my blog or website so people can see it.
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#15
Quote:Just as well Jasper tidied it up for me, as I would have not been certain how to do so :roll:
Alan has said that he'll let me have the text of his article, and I'll put it on my blog or website so people can see it.

Ave Viventius,

Thank you for adjusting your link, everthing's right with the topic again.

Thank your friend Alan for his kindness, perhaps he might like to say a word?

What's a "blog"? I've seen the word all over the place but have no idea what it means?

Here's a review I found for Imperial Governor at Amazon.com.

"Gripping and detailed account of a turbulent time in history, March 24, 2003
Reviewer: Iain S. Palin (Northern Ireland)

Among the many statues of national heroes in London is one of Boudicca, the Queen of the Iceni (a Celtic tribe) who led a major revolt against the Roman occupiers in 61 AD. The event is usually portrayed as some sort of national uprising, which it was not: the Celtic Britons were intensely tribal and many of the victims of the revolt were Britons who belonged to other tribes. But it remains embedded in British national consciousness.

This highly detailed and well-written novel purports to be the memoir of Suetonius Paulinus, the Roman general who finally - and against huge odds, given the military resources at his disposal - crushed the uprising. It gets inside his mind, which is a fascinating, if chilly place. Suetonius is the consummate professional soldier and he succeeds because of his professionalism and his refusal to panic when all seems lost. But he has no respect for the people he has been sent from distant Rome to govern, and as events proceed this develops into a blind hatred for the rebels. This brings him into dispute with his political masters in Rome, who want a quick "reconstruction", and causes his downfall.

The account of life in the Roman army, how it worked (and conquered almost all its foes in the process), and of the mind set of its commanders is absolutely gripping. The author takes you back to a totally different time, a different society, a different way of thinking, and immerses you.

I first read this book some thirty years ago. When it was reprinted I went back to it and think I have gained even more from it now. If you are interested in the ancient world, this is a must-read.
"

Vale

M. Spedius Corbulo
[Image: spedius-mcmxliii.gif]
~~~~~~Jim Poulton~~~~~~
North London Wargames Group
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