Darkness over Cannae

An illustrated novel about Rome's most terrible defeat - and Hannibal's greatest triumph.
Jenny Dolfen
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A huge thank you to all of you who made this happen. Here's proof that there are a lot of appreciators of ancient history and of illustrated novels - you guys are great! We exceeded our goal by a staggering 594%, which means that all the stretch goals were reached. 

"Darkness over Cannae" is now available!

Order it through darknessovercannae.com

Please see  DarknessoverCannae.com or the Facebook page for more info!

Darkness over Cannae – an illustrated novel about one of the most dramatic battles in ancient history

On the morning of 2nd August, 216 BC, eight Roman legions - over eighty thousand soldiers - form up on a field in Apulia to confront Hannibal's 50,000 Africans, Spaniards, and Gauls. 

By nightfall, around fifty thousand dead Romans will litter the field, the legions crushed by the military genius of Hannibal Barca.

On 144 pages and in over 70 illustrations, “Darkness over Cannae” depicts a single day in history, following the experiences of seven people on 2nd August, 216 BC: through the eyes of two Roman consuls and a Roman military tribune, two Carthaginian officers, Hannibal’s bodyguard, and Hannibal himself.

From a historical point of view, I wanted to explore the tactical decisions and the precarious course of battle. As a novelist, I wanted to shed light on the traumatic experiences these men went through, Roman and Carthaginian alike. Was the Roman consul Varro really as stupid as the sources make him? Did the other consul, Paullus, really oppose a battle? How did Hannibal plan all this, and how did his officers stay in control of it all in the midst of battle? How does it feel to survive the most shocking defeat Rome has ever known? And how can the bodyguard of the most important man on the field even continue to function?

These questions made me delve deep into warfare in the 3rd century BC, and the characters at Cannae, and the result is this novel.

More novel excerpts on DarknessoverCannae.com!

Pre-order now!

Choose the perk you'd like on the right ("Balearean slinger" gets you a copy, "Legionary" a signed copy, "Celtic cavalry" a copy with sketch, and so on). Worldwide shipping is always included. Use the "With extra plumes on top" perk if you want a hardcover edition (above 50 Euros, you will get hardcover automatically). 

Please work with combined perks whenever possible, and do not change the amounts on your own, as that makes things very complicated for me. If you have any questions at all, just ask a question (in the "comment" section above) or drop me a line at jenny(at)goldseven.de !

My name is Jenny Dolfen, and I'm a writer and freelance illustrator living in Germany. In my other life - the one concerned not with ancient battles and acrylic inks, but with family, day jobs, and dressing properly - I'm a teacher for English and Latin, and studied English literature and linguistics and Classical Philology at Cologne. As an illustrator, I have worked for international Role-playing companies, authors and franchises like Bernhard Hennen and Game of Thrones, and a Fantasy-themed artbook of mine is due out this year.

Despite the fact that I'm better known for my Fantasy work, I have always been fascinated by ancient history, particularly that of the Carthaginian general, and I have been delving into classical antiquity for most of my life. “Darkness over Cannae” brings together some of my greatest passions: historical fiction, cataclysmic battles, and art.

As an illustrator, the visual side of any setting has always been very important to me, and in this book, images and text come together to tell the story.

The novel will have an illustration on each (double) page, which will be a mix of colour and b/w, done in pencils, ink and ink washes, acrylics and/or watercolours. 

It will be 17 x 24 cm (6,6 x 9,4 inches) in format, softcover, with 144 pages on heavyweight matte paper to bring out the artwork.

(Tentative cover - nothing's final)

Since you helped me reach my goal so soon, it's only fair that I return the kindness: There's now a hardcover edition available, too, with headband and ribbon (because a deluxe hardcover needs a headband and ribbon), going out to you automatically if you chose any perk of 50€ and above! If you go for a smaller perk, you can still get the hardcover: simply choose "with added plumes on top" in addition to your book perk. 

This hardcover edition is strictly limited and only the number ordered through Indiegogo will be printed, plus some 20 or so, but no more than that!

The status of the project:

- text completely written, proof-read, edited; 

- layout going hand in hand with illustration work; 

- illustrations about 25% completed.

Please note that the book is meant for mature audiences. There's a lot of tactical considerations (obviously), a lot of violence (also quite obviously), and some swearing (Paullus is safe. Maharbal... not so much).

Publishers, I have learned since creating this project, are scared stiff of an illustrated novel that's not for kids. They don't want to put up with an author illustrating her novel herself because it means a lot of hassle and lack of control on their part, and they seem to feel the form and subject matter is something that nobody wants to read anyway. 

Well, we know that's not true. 

This is why I am self-publishing this book. Now, the control is all mine, and I'm very fortunate to have many good contacts and talented friends in the publishing industries, so beta reading, editing, and layout are all taken care of. And of course, I don't have to employ a separate artist. Instead, the funds raised in this campaign will be used to help me cover the printing costs of the first edition of 500 copies (which need to be on excellent paper and have thread stitching, to bring out the illustrations and splashpages), as well as buying an ISBN, production of the perk items, Indiegogo and PayPal fees - and help for elephants. See below!

My aim for publication is late in 2014. With your support, we'll get this book out there!

You can support the project by making your donation (via PayPal or credit card) - and of course, in return, you'll find a lot of goodies waiting for you! Whether you'll settle for a signed copy or want it to come with an original sketch, or would like to be present in the battle of Cannae, drawn in from your photo - all is possible.

There's also art prints, bookmarks, and even original art straight from the book itself. See the perk descriptions on the right, or the overview below, for examples of sketches and prints!

For the higher tiers of donations, and possible stretch goals, a part of the sum will go to a Pro Wildlife elephant orphanage project in Zambia that rescues parentless elephants and prepares them for a return into the wild. They're also active against poaching.

(In the perks, it still says WWF - I changed that to "Pro Wildlife" but it seems the change didn't register on the page. I can't change the perk descriptions now - sorry for the confusion. I made sure to pick the organisation that had the best reputation for actually helping animals.)

So 2,200 years later, elephants can actually profit from a Hannibal project, because we can all agree that crossing the Alps with him wasn't their idea of a good time. ;)

No matter how much comes together for Pro Wildlife through your contributions, I'll add another 100€ to the sum. 

The Perks

Original Artwork

For the "Archives of Carthage" perk, you get to pick, too! 

Around August or so, when there will be dozens of images to choose from, I will send you a list - looking much like the one above, only with a lot more on it, coloured, pencil, or ink - with previews. The earlier you bought the perk, the earlier you get to choose! But no worries - it's not a lottery, and there are no blanks. By restricting the perk to twenty, even if you were the last person to choose the perk, there'll still be a lot of great stuff to choose from!

Stretch goals!

As we exceeded the goal in the first twenty-four hours, here are the stretch goals! 

If you can't support the campaign financially, or aren't sure yet, or if you have already pledged a donation but are so awesome that you want to do more – you can! If you're as excited about the project as I am, and you're active in any communities (history/art/reenactment forums or newsgroups) that might be interested, get the word out! Best use the Indiegogo or Facebook share buttons, so that others can learn of the project. Exposure is the best thing that can happen to the project, so let's make sure it's seen by many!

Darkness over Cannae is also on Facebook! Get updates on the project, production sketches, sneak peaks, polls, and much more, or share it there!

Find writing snippets, artwork, production sketches, previews, historical considerations and much more on DarknessoverCannae.com

"Aut viam inveniam aut faciam" - I will either find a way, or make one!"

( - attributed to Hannibal.)

Thank you so much for your support! 

Is it a graphic novel, then? 

By the definition of the term, it isn't, no. It's not in comic form; it's written in prose, and the images are many and they complement the story, but if it had to, the story could stand on its own. (I just don't want it to). 

Is it historical?

Everyone I know who is into history - especially ancient warfare, which is not as Renfaire-infested as the Middle Ages - is extremely picky about what they read (and support)! Believe me, I am no different. I'm under very strict gag orders when I watch peplum movies with my husband.

This means that I have put a huge amount of work into making this as historically accurate (and gripping) as possible, in historical aspects as well as in visual ones (and I hope that shows, despite the occasional mistake I may have made). I've used the ancient sources (mainly Livy and Polybius) as well as consulting modern-day historians' works (Seibert, Goldsworthy, Daly, Zimmermann, to name but a few. You can find a list of some of them here). 

Nevertheless, this is a work of fiction, which needs to settle on one version, without footnotes or alternatives. This does not mean I'm not aware of the historical debates. Please see here for more in-depth discussions of the major ones. 

How does this crowdfunding thing work?

Crowdfunding works by many people pledging money to a project they want to support. Then there are two kinds of possibilities. With some projects, if the funding goal is not met, the money is returned to the supporters and the project never happens. For my novel, this is not the case. The novel is being made, and it will be printed. Every help is appreciated, but if the goal is not met, I will cover the rest of the cost myself (perhaps with a smaller edition). So yes, by the end of the year, each of you who has supported the project will hold the book in your hands (in addition to everything else you chose from the perks!) Indiegogo has a payment plan that allows me to choose between "all or nothing" and "every little helps." I'm going for the latter. But since my work on Cannae prevents me from doing any sort of paid illustration work or commissions this year, I'll be grateful for every bit! :) 

Do you ship to the US?

Yes! I ship worldwide. I've calculated the perks so that shipping is covered, to wherever you are! 

Can I upgrade my perk to a different one by transferring the remaining sum?

I'm afraid that's not possible - I've calculated the maximum number of all perks based on how many I can reasonably make (sketches take time, the number of originals is limited, and there's only a limited number of images in which I can put in cameos). If people could upgrade, I'd end up with more than I could do, as I can't tamper with the numbers of taken perks on Indiegogo. (And the shipping department - that is me - would probably go bonkers when I have to keep track of changes!)

If you have already pledged something but would like to choose a different perk, the easiest way might be to ask a friend to take over yours, and you could choose a new one.

When can I expect my copy?

I am still working on the images. By running the campaign now, I can offer to draw people into the novel, and finish the illustration work over the summer holidays. 

I firmly plan to have the book published and out late in 2014. And of course I will keep you updated on the progress here, on Facebook, and on DarknessoverCannae.com.

So, what's your next project?

I can't be sure at this point that there will be a next. If I find the time, I would love to illustrate Hannibal's crossing of the Alps. But that is not very likely, I'm afraid - work on Cannae is taking up an entire year, and under normal circumstances, my job as a teacher doesn't leave me that sort of time. 

Hannibal should be older / bearded / black /...

Please see here for full coverage. ;)

Please check the FAQ on DarknessOverCannae.com for more questions and answers! Any more questions? Just drop me a line!

Find This Campaign On
raised by 329 people in 1 month
594% funded
No time left
€2,000 EUR goal
Flexible Funding This campaign has ended and will receive all funds raised.
Campaign Closed
This campaign ended on June 18, 2014
Select a Perk
  • €5EUR
    Sacred chicken

    You may be small and feathery, but all would be lost without you! Thank you so much. I will send a little digital surprise your way by email. Your name will also appear on the “Thank you” page of DarknessoverCannae.com. This goes for all subsequent perks as well!

    1 claimed
  • €5EUR
    With extra plumes on top

    If you have already chosen a perk below 50 €, and want to upgrade your copy of "Darkness over Cannae" to be a limited hardcover edition, add this perk! If you already donated 50 € or more, you do not need it; your upgrade will be automatical! Please do not choose this perk on its own! If you want to donate 5€, go for the Sacred Chicken perk instead.

    48 claimed
  • €6EUR
    Beyond Cannae - the booklet

    This perk gets you a booklet called "Beyond Cannae", featuring concept art, historical considerations, and guest essays/stories (tba) by authors BEN KANE, GREGORY DALY and YOZAN MOSIG! This perk gets you only the booklet. not the novel, and covers shipping. If you already bought any perk of 50€, the booklet goes to you automatically. You can choose this perk *without* the purchase of the novel!

    35 claimed
  • €10EUR

    You’re lightweight, but you’re in it for consul and country! You receive a PDF download of the finished novel.

    9 claimed
  • €19EUR
    Balearean slinger

    No helmets, no armour, no nonsense! You receive a physical copy of the finished novel. Includes worldwide shipping.

    61 claimed
  • €24EUR

    For the glory of Rome, you’ll have nothing less! You'll receive a copy of the finished novel, signed by me, Includes worldwide shipping.

    77 out of 200 claimed
  • €39EUR
    Celtic cavalry

    Hasdrubal won't keep you from getting a little extra! You receive - a signed copy of the finished novel - and I will do a small sketch for you on the first page (my choice of subject, "Cannae"-themed, like a character's face, a little elephant...), - and a bookmark. Includes worldwide shipping.

    32 out of 40 claimed
  • €43EUR
    Double envelopment

    Get two signed copies - one for you, and one for a friend on the other side of the field! Includes worldwide shipping. Both will be shipped to the same address.

    7 out of 20 claimed

    Numidian cavalry

    There's no denying it - you're the coolest person on the battlefield. You receive - a signed copy of the finished novel - and I will do a more elaborate sketch for you on the first page (my choice of subject, "Cannae"-themed, e. g. several characters), - and a bookmark. Includes worldwide shipping.

    20 out of 20 claimed
  • €90EUR
    Armful of loot

    Looting the battlefield, are we? For your fantastic support, there's a little bit of everything here: - a signed hardcover copy of the novel, - with an elaborate sketch (my choice of subject, "Cannae"-themed), - a bookmark, - two signed prints (A3 size) from ANY of my body of work (your choice, Cannae or otherwise!) Includes worldwide shipping. 5 € of your pledge will go to a WWF project saving elephants in Africa!

    12 out of 20 claimed
  • €150EUR
    The Lost Archives of Carthage

    All the originals from Hannibal's time may be lost, but here's the originals from the novel! You receive a signed copy of the book upon publication, and one piece of *original* artwork (~half-page), signed. You'll have a choice which one you can pick. Please scroll down to the description on the left! Includes worldwide shipping. 5 € of your pledge will go to a WWF project saving elephants in Africa!

    1 out of 20 claimed
  • €300EUR
    Grace of Baal

    The Gods smile on you for all your support! You receive - a signed copy, - with a full-page sketch (your choice, Cannae-themed), - a bookmark, - a signed print of “The Face of Battle” and “Across the Wild Alps”, - one piece of original artwork (~half-page), signed, from the novel (I'll try to fulfil your wishes), - you’re drawn as a character in the book. Includes worldwide shipping. 10 € of your pledge will go to a WWF project saving elephants in Africa!

    8 out of 10 claimed
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