1. Akarevaar
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    Akarevaar Member

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    Plot Problem: Being Taken Prisoner?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Akarevaar, Nov 12, 2015.

    I'm writing a historical fiction novel set in first century Britian. This is set during Boudicca's revolt. My main character is a soldier in the Roman ninth legion, and I need him to be captured by the celts at some stage. the problem is that the Celts didn't really take prisoners, and I need a reason for them to decide to keep him alive. I have a few ideas, but each one of them has a few problems.

    1) For strategic reasons: They keep him alive because of his knowledge of Roman military strategies and key targets. Seems unlikely since, as mentioned before,m the Celts did not take prisoners and they weren't good with long term planning (ie, they didn't think of how to keep their troops of 100 000 men fed, which ultimately contributed to them loosing the rebellion)

    2) For religious reasons: if there was some sort of divine 'sign' that made the Celts believe he was supposed to be kept alive. I'm not sure what this would be, and I still have to do more research into Celtic religion.

    3) Someone 'vouches' for him: One of the Celts would have to protest his killing. I'm not sure why they would do this, or if one person's would would be enough unless they're of a high rank. Also, he has a Celtic love interest and I feel like it might be interesting if she's the one to stop him from being killed.

    any other suggestions or ways I could solve this?

    EDIT: Keep in mind that they speak different languages. I assume he has picked up a little bit of Celtic here and there, but not enough to hold conversation. Also, the Celts have been trading with the Romans for a while before the rebellion, so some of them would be able to speak Latin to a certain degree, particularly if they were higher class or educated.
     
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2015
  2. Chinspinner
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    Chinspinner Contributing Member Contributor

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    4) For ransom, or perhaps a prisoner exchange.

    5) For sacrifice on a given religiously significant date.
     
  3. Akarevaar
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    Akarevaar Member

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    Both good suggestions! However, I don't think they'd make sense in this context.

    4) I doubt the Roman's would go through the trouble of a prisoner exchange for a single cavalry man, and he isn't really important enough for a high enough ransom to interest the Celts.
    5) The only type of human sacrifice I can find in celtic mythos is the taking of enemies heads to the warrior goddess andraste. However, it seems that this only applied when the enemies were killed in battle, and not ritually killed after being captured.
     
  4. Morgan Stelbas
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    Morgan Stelbas Active Member

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    My historical knowledge is very limited, and so I googled Boudicca's revolt, and so I hope my suggestion below is helpful.

    6) Could your MC be mistaken as one of the men who raped Boudicca's daughters, (if I read correctly, the revolt happened after they flogged her and had her daughters raped repeatedly) and the celts think she might want to personally kill him? So they are holding him alive long enough for Boudicca to get to him, but before she does, your MC somehow convinces them that he wasn't a part of that? Or maybe your MC escapes on his own?

    7) Boudicca's husband, Prasutagus had established some political relations with the Romans before he died. Could your MC have some part in that, maybe meeting him personally? Actually not quite sure where I'm going with this idea.. but I'm not going to delete it in case it inspires another idea in you.

    Again, this is the first time I ever learned about these characters, so I apologize for any historical inaccuracies. But the story sounds very interesting.
     
  5. Chinspinner
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    Chinspinner Contributing Member Contributor

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    8) If he has some connection to the Celts, as you implied, could his knowledge of their culture and religion convince them to spare him? i.e. they would no longer consider him a heretic, he might even have sufficient knowledge to convince them he shares their religion and it would be an affront to their shared deity to kill him.
     
  6. Akarevaar
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    Akarevaar Member

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    Don't worry about being 100% historically accurate for just making suggestions, I really appreciate them!

    6) Very interesting idea. Yes, I could see Boudicca being motivated enough by revenge to keep him alive for this. It might be a bit of a coincidence for one in 100 000 people to think they recognize him, and for that to keep him alive, but you know the saying that 'using chance to get your character into trouble is storytelling, using chance to get them out of it is cheating' , and this isn't actually getting him out of trouble, per say. If anything, it's guaranteeing him a more painful death. Also, I already know how he could convince them otherwise: my MC is a transgender man (meaning that he was born biologically female) so he could at some stage prove that he didn't have the right 'equipment' for what he was accused of. I'll definitely keep this idea on the table, so thanks very much for your suggestion!

    7) Another interesting idea. He's been with the ninth legion for about five years, so it's quite likely that he ventured into Iceni territory on some campaign during that time. Not sure why a cavalryman would meet the Iceni king, but...hey, stranger things have happened. Alternatively, this could link into idea 3 : if he had encountered one of the Celts before and done something to help them, they might be willing to return the favour.

    Thank you, by the way! I certainly hope that it does actually turn out to be interesting.
     

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