This month John E. Dennett’s The Residium – Road to Rome was published on Amazon Kindle. Set in 2068 this dystopian novel follows the rise of Arif, a mysterious leader from the stateless peoples of the Mediterranean, as he instigates a stealth invasion on Southern Italy. Jeb Montalto, US Ranger Staff Sergeant, is sent with his Rangers to end the reign of a man who is seemingly willing to sacrifice everything in order to gain power. What ensues is a powerful story that foresees the potential political, cultural and religious struggles of our future with a fascinating insight into Jeb’s internal conflict over his duties, ideals and heritage. Painfully relevant and beautifully written, Dennett’s novel is a unique and interesting interpretation of our current global uncertainties.
You can read the prologue to The Residium – Road to Rome below. If you would like to purchase the novelyou can do so on Amazon by clicking here.
The Residium – Road to Rome By John E. Dennett
Prologue The Portent
Above Abbazia de Casamari thousands of devil-black crows drifted gently past each other, crisscrossing the sky like ash fragments caught by Contrastes breezes. The children watched the crows for over twenty minutes before the priest, sensing their increasing unease, returned them to their classroom. As the children settled into their seats, the crows began shrieking fiercely above them. The children instinctively looked up, as if they would be able to see through the oak beams to the grey sky. High above the greenish orange tiles, the birds whirled themselves into a massive black teardrop and flowing with the contours of the hills swooped down the valley, until they disappeared over the final peak before Sant’angelo In Villa Giglio.
The children chattered nervously, their voices rising exponentially, as they sought to be heard above their classmates.
“A portent,” shouted Maria.
The priest told them stories about portents. He raised his right hand. The children’s voices dropped. The priest, as was his habit, turned and stood with his back to the class staring out the terrace window, his big red haired fists clenched and crossed at his lower back, his broad shoulders straining against his faded black cassock.
He turned to face the class, “Children, remember portents can sometimes be frightening, but they always point us towards truth. The creatures know what we humans have long forgotten. They’re of the earth. They understand it. Do not fear the crows. They’re trying to tell you something. Listen, not just with your ears. What are they trying to tell you?”
The priest turned back to the window, peering through condensation stained glass. He drew strength from the rows of sharp green Sangiovese vines, neatly floating over ochre-brown loam to the valley floor and beyond. They helped him focus his thoughts- to carefully select his words for the children- even on his most weary days. With each season he hungered for its taste, maybe a little too greedily for a good priest, he often thought. He squinted his tired eyes through chipped, scratched lenses, three years past a good prescription. He stopped mid thought. The vines didn’t inspire him today. The horizon appeared to be moving towards him. It took close to a minute, before he realised thousands, maybe tens of thousands of people were moving up the valley towards the abbey.
He knew this moment would come. When it did, he counted on steeling his heart against fear, but he didn’t anticipate melancholy would ease its way past his defences. A deep blue sadness hit him. He knew this was the end of his home, maybe his life, but now he sensed everything he loved would be consumed. He stood in treacherous light, the same light that dissolved the shade inside Constantinople’s walls, when the Ottomans finally broke through. His heart ached. His eyes watered. He felt like sitting down and never getting up. He remembered the children.
“The crows children…they tell us it’s time to go.”
John E. Dennett was born in New Zealand. He has practiced law in Wellington, Edinburgh and Abu Dhabi where he currently lives. He is happiest listening to blues and rock, delving in ancient ruins, wandering off the beaten track or keeping the company of his cat, Hokio, in his garden.