Adventures along the Silk Road

Daily Examiner (Grafton, Australia), May 4, 2016 | Go to article overview

Adventures along the Silk Road


THE Tortoise in Asia is a piece of historical fiction based on a legend popular in Gansu, the far western province of China. Some people there have Caucasian features, a curiosity that has given rise to a thriving tourist attraction based on the belief that they are descendants of Roman legionaries who travelled along the Silk Road.

It is an adventure story beginning with the lead up to the battle of Carrhae (in Anatolia) in 53 BC. Marcus, a young and upwardly mobile centurion tutored in the Greek classics is the adviser to Crassus, the general in charge of the Roman invasion of Parthia (ancient Iran). He gives self-interested advice and the Romans lose the battle. Crassus suffers a grisly fate.

Marcus survives along with some of his cohort. Taken prisoner by the Parthians, they are marched along the Silk Road to the eastern frontier to be border guards. While there, Marcus meets Sogdian merchants who know the ferocious Hun warlord operating in Central Asia. One of them brokers a deal for the Romans to be mercenaries for him. …

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