Desolation, bodies from river

Vann Turner, historical fiction novelist

This one-page website is a frontispiece to me as a novelist. Since I believe that the proper estimation of a novelist lies in the stories he/she tells and in the integrity with which he tells them, I won't waste your time by blabbing about me.


(My author page at has something about me personally. To that I will add an additional detail: I live in Cosby, TN.)


Instead of blabbing on about me, though, let me tell you about a novel I've just completed. It is the fictional story of a man who almost prevented the Dark Ages.


To Forestall the Darkness:

A Novel of Ancient Rome


Italy in the Sixth Century was a land of utter devastation. The plague had depopulated it, and decades of war had destroyed it. Industry, agriculture, commerce and city life had stopped. The ruination was so complete that it could have been the template for the film, Mad Max. But imagine a man in that apocalypse, not attempting merely to survive and seek revenge, as Mel Gibson did, but one determined to restore what had been lost. That is the scenario and thrust of To Forestall the Darkness.


To Forestall the Darkness is set in 589 AD, Verona, where the Germanic Lombards held power. The Lombards were so brutal that Pope Gregory often railed against their cruelty: They were unusually fond of castration. Through this world moves Titus Tribonius, a man of deep emotional and moral strength.


Titus Tribonius

From the barbarity he faces—decapitated heads adorning Hadrian’s Gate, burning of hamlets in the adjoining district, enslavement of freeborn Romans, murder of a woman while in his custody, a man’s castration on the Cathedral steps—he flees to the shrine of his household gods, where he stands for hours, his arms raised in supplication, his head covered with his toga. Dozens gather in the peristylum, where—silent and expectant—they watch him pray. Finally he turns and announces in measured voice, “It shall not stand.” One in the crowd asks him to clarify, and he shouts, “Our subjugation shall not stand!”


Romans as captives

Amid the desolation the characters in this richly textured novel teem with life:

  • Theodelinda, Queen of the Lombards, beautiful, vain, manipulative, and plotting to murder the King;
  • Bibula, the feisty and gregarious proprietress of a taberna;
  • Stola, Titus’s wife, whose excessive piety has constricted her life;
  • Celer, a youth of mixed Roman-Germanic stock;
  • Decius, a runaway slave from Corsica;
  • Ratold, the Lombard’s dark Master of Horse;
  • Titus’ aunt, who dances with the shades of the dead.

With some aiding him, some opposing, and some even betraying him, Titus will struggle to restore what has been lost.


To Forestall the Darkness is a serious historical novel for a mature audience, like Gary Jennings’ Raptor or Steven Saylor’s Roman Blood. It is the first of a trilogy, with the next novel to be set in Rome itself, and to be called The Fury of the Humble.



  • As I become aware of them, I will post here excerpts of reviews from newspapers, magazines and literary sites. The reviews on or are not reflected here.
  • 2/1/2014 Historical Novel Society, Steve Donahue, Reviewer:
    “Turner's gripping novel brings alive a period of history seldom visited by historical fiction: sixth- century Italy at a time when waves of Lombard invasions have shattered the power of Rome… Through many long passages of sharp, intelligent dialogue between Titus and his friends, the chaos of a war-torn world (and the conflicting strains of newborn religions as well) is sifted and examined. There are a good many fascinating sub-plots, and a good deal of smart, earthy humor enlivens these pages…Highly recommended.”

  • 9/16/2013 Jefferson County Post, Jake Depew, Reviewer:
    “If you follow my reviews, then you know that I love historical fiction. That being said, it is rare that I find a historical fiction book that diverges from a few of the genre's archetypes. Vann Turner's new novel To Forestall the Darkness, the first book in The Tribonian Trilogy, was a breath of fresh air... Turner has chosen his setting well. The characters are vibrant, yet beautifully, terribly realistic...The character of Titus is almost certainly Turner's greatest accomplishment...Despite the detail woven into the story, it is never a dry read, as the mystery, violence, and betrayal will almost assuredly keep eyes glued to the pages and the pages turning. I honestly can't think of anything this book won't have to keep adult readers of various genres hooked...It has mystery, drama, some dark humor, and may just change your mind on historical fiction.”

Click here to read the first 40 pages.

cover, To Forestall the Darkness Publication  


Many tell tales of how difficult it is for an unpublished author to become a published author. The difficulties are not exagerated. To have a major publishing house accept your work and commit to you is the equivalent of winning the American Idol contest.


It is my wish to have one of the major publishers of historical fiction (eg. Doubleday or St. Martin's) bring out my work. But things are a little different now than they were in the 1990s when I wrote my first novel. Back then I had no viable options.


Today digital ebooks (like Kindles) and print on demand have brought fresh air into the publishing industry. Using the free resources made available to authors by - KDP and CreateSpace (God bless Amazon!) - I have published the first of the trilogy as both a Kindle and as a paperback. Amazon does not hog-tie authors who make use of their services (Again God bless Amazon!) and I can withdraw the novel there at any time. I'll withdraw it on eve of publication by a major house.


Coming in September, 2014:


cover, Rome, AD 593


A Note to Medical Transcriptionists


Vann Turner

If you have any inkling that my name seems vaguely familiar: Yes, I’m the Vann Joe Turner who designed, coded and published the MedPen line of software for fifteen years (starting in 1997)—MedPen, MPWord, MPCount, MPTools and MPLite. I thank you for your years of support, and trust you are doing well. If in your hectic days you find time to write, I'd love to hear what's happening with you and your families.


You probably know that is continuing to offer and develop the software. I sold it to them on September 1, 2012, and the next day announced I was going to write another novel.


I’m in contact with Carla and Kelly of SimpleDictation several times each week, and know how dedicated they are in offering the best possible software at the best possible price. The software does make for an easier/shorter workday, doesn’t it! 



Artwork used on this page:

Top: Charles Le Brun (1619 – 1690), French. A portion of Mucius Scaevola devant Porsenna.
Middle: Cesare Maccari (1840 - 1919), Italian. A portion of  Cicerone denuncia Catalina of 1888.
Bottom: Charles Gleyre (1806-1874), Swiss. A portion of  Les Romans passant sous le joug of 1858.
Kindle cover: Gustave Dore (1832 - 1883), French. A portion of The Clash of the Titans of 1868.
Cover, Book 2: Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres (1780 - 1867), French. Study for the Martyrdom of St Symphorien of 1834.


Keywords as listed in the META tags: historical fiction, ancient rome, roman fiction, historical novel, roman novel, to forestall the darkness, novelist, vann turner, medieval fiction


© 2013 by Vann Turner