Iron Hand

The Iron Hand of Mars

The Iron Hand of Mars is a crime novel by Lindsey Davis.

Plot introduction

Set in Rome and Germania during AD 71, The Iron Hand of Mars stars Marcus Didius Falco, Informer and Imperial Agent. It is the fourth in her Falco series.

Explanation of the novel's title

The title refers to the standard, shaped like a giant hand made of iron, which Falco is required to deliver to the imperial legions in Germany.

Plot summary

In The Iron Hand of Mars, Falco is sent to Germania Liberi in the aftermath of a rebellion. He is dispatched by Vespasian to deliver a new standard, give a report on the Legio XIV Germania, and to discover what happened to their Legate. He also searches for the rebel leader Julius Civilis.

Characters in "The Iron Hand of Mars"

In Rome

  • Arria Silvia - Wife of Petronius Longus (friend of Falco's)
  • Balbillus - Ex-legionary
  • Canidius - A clerk of censored archives
  • Decimus Camillus Verus - Senatorial father of Helena Justina.
  • Helena Justina - Daughter of the Senator Decimus Camillus Verus
  • Marcus Didius Falco - Informer and Imperial Agent from the Aventine.
  • Titus Caesar - Eldest son of the Emperor.
  • Xanthus - Barber
  • Vespasian Augustus - Emperor of Rome.

In Germany

  • Arminia - Friend of Augustinilla
  • Augustinilla - Falco's niece
  • Dubnus - Pedlar
  • Julius Mordanticus - Potter
  • Regina - Barmaid at the Medua

Belonging to the Fourteenth Legion

  • A Macrinus - Senior Tribune
  • Cornicularis - Commissariat Clerk
  • Florius Gracilis - Legate, missing.
  • Julia Fortunata - Mistress of Florius.
  • Maenia Priscilla - Wife of Florius.
  • Primipilus - Chief Centurion
  • Rusticus - Slave, missing.
  • S. Juvenalis - Camp Prefect

Belonging to the First Legion

  • Dama - Centurion
  • Lentullus - Recruit
  • Q. Camillis Justinus Helveticus - Brother of Helena Justina, Tribune.

Major themes

  • Investigation into the disappearance of an imperial legate and the whereabouts of a rebel leader.
  • Developing relationship of Marcus Didius Falco and Helena Justina.

Allusions/references to actual history, geography and current science

  • Set in Rome and Germania in AD 71, during the reign of Emperor Vespasian. The story takes place in the aftermath of a real rebellion by the Batavians and other Germanic tribes in AD 69-70. This is described by Tacitus in his Histories. However, much of this Tacitus' work has been lost and the Histories breaks off in the middle of the Batavian rebellion.

Release details

  • 1992, UK, Hutchinson, Hardback (out of print)
  • 1993, UK, Arrow, Paperback ISBN 0-09-920091-0
  • 1994, US, Crown/Ballantine ISBN 0-345-38024-X
  • 1999, UK, Arrow, Paperback ISBN 0-7126-8018-7 (as part of single-volume omnibus edition, Falco on his Metal, with Venus in Copper and Poseidon's Gold)

Film, TV, Radio or theatrical adaptations


External links and quotations

Author's Official Website

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