Over the course of the last few years I have delved into quite a few books that are parts of a series. The Agent of Rome series by Nick Brown being one of the best of them. The Black Stone, the fourth book in the series, continues the adventures of Cassius Corbulo, his slave/attendant Simo and his bodyguard Indavara. In this tale they are on the trail of the mysterious black stone, an ancient object of worship that has been stolen and one that the Emperor Aurelian really wants back. The thief has it taken to a very remote spot in the Hejaz Mountains in Arabia where he is building a cult following for a sun god and where he is also fomenting rebellion among the nomadic tribes against Rome. The narrative brings out a perfect feel for the inhospitable, treacherous and dangerous terrain Corbulo and his crew must cross just to get to the location. Corbulo is not your typical Roman soldier; he is not a warrior, but a deeply sensitive and very intelligent man and it takes all of his smarts to outwit his foes.
One of the things an author must accomplish in any series of books that utilize the same main characters is a continuing sense of character development. Nick Brown passes this test with flying colors. The reader gets to know more and more about the three companions as the relationships between them are tested; to the limit in some instances, and one does not know until the end if they pass those tests. Another strength of the author, the drama and intrigue of the plot, held me spellbound during the climatic last half of the book. Once again I raise my coffee cup in salute for another masterful story and cannot wait to start on book five. 5 stars.
On Twitter @hooverbkreview