“Danube Divide” by Jardonn Smith— 378 AD, Rome— Make Love, Not War

Smith, Jardonn. “Danube Divide”. MLR Press, 2009.

378 AD, Rome—Make Love, Not war

Amos Lassen

As the Battle of Hadrianopolis raged with Romans fighting Goths, historians were writing that it had to be the war to end all wars. Fifteen thousand Romans were dead yet there were four men who managed to get through it. They may have been cut off from their homeland by a river yet they will find their way home. The empire was declining and Theo and Gregoric, Goths, helped to kill the Romans. They are cousins but while Gregoric is somewhat stoic and very steady, Theo is more impulsive. As Theo walks among the dead after the battle, he searches for a pair of boots. He comes upon two fallen soldiers, Drusus and Strabo, both injured and immediately feels an attraction for Drusus. He runs off with him and leaves Strabo to Gregoric.

The story also centers on the worshippers of Mithras and this gives the story a bit of a supernatural element. Gregoric comes upon Boris, a priest of Christ, who had once been his and Theo’s tutor and eventually Gregoric’s lover. There is nothing Gregoric would not do for Boris and Boris knows that. And yes, there is some really good erotic writing here.

The plot is given to us through alternating narrators, something that is now becoming very popular. We, therefore get different perspectives. Mix that with Jardonn Smith’s wonderful use of language and excellent plot with larger than life characters and you get a really good read.

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