Praetorian: The Cleansing Fire (Praetorian #5) by S.J.A. Turney

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The villain Cleander has fallen, his wickedness gone from the imperial court, but his influence lives on. Amongst the Praetorians, a network of spies, killers and thieves remain, clawing on to the power they have enjoyed. Rufinus, returned to the Guard at the hands of the devious Frumentarii, Rome’s imperial secret service, is intent on bringing the entire web of villainy to justice.But Commodus’s reign falters, and Rome is in peril. Wolves are at the door and every man with power prepares to make a bid for the purple. In a world of chaos, Rufinus is about to learn that Rome does not harbour corruption. Rome IS corruption.

REVIEW

By my count, I have read 33 novels by Mr. Turney most of which are spread out over many different series… Tales of the Empire, Marius Mules, The Ottoman Cycle, Knights Templar, and Praetorian.  One of the things I have noticed, and am indeed marveled by, is that he sustains my interest and keeps me coming back for more. In the case of The Cleansing Fire, Rufinus has progressed as his character gets older, more confident in his abilities, more circumspect about the sundry quandaries he faces as a Frumentarii agent, which by the way are definite highlights in this twist filled plot. An enjoyable foray into one of Rome’s more unsettled times, reminiscent of Nero’s fall and aftermath, a sort of “Who is the Emperor today?”, a sure fire heart pounding, page turning narrative full of intrigue and excitement awaits you, my fellow readers.  5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

The Emperor’s Knives (Empire #7) by Anthony Riches

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The seventh novel in Anthony Riches’ acclaimed Empire sequence brings Marcus Aquila back to Rome, hunting the men who destroyed his family.

But the revenge he craves may cost him and those around him dearly.

The young centurion’s urge to exact his own brutal justice upon the shadowy cabal of assassins who butchered his family means that he must face them on their own ground, risking his own death at their hands.

A senator, a gang boss, a praetorian officer and, deadliest of all, champion gladiator Mortiferum – the Death Bringer – lie in wait.

The knives are unsheathed, and ready for blood.

REVIEW

Once again I have fallen behind in a series that I really, really like. Once again I was drawn into the world of Marcus Aquila and his search for vengeance, and marveled at the story telling ability of the author. To keep a series fresh and exciting takes some talent, and Mr. Riches is up to the task. Indeed, I have already ordered the next book in the tale. 5 stars

The Last of the Romans by Derek Birks

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454 AD.

Northern Italy.
Dux Ambrosius Aurelianus has served the Roman Empire with distinction.
His bucellarii, a small band of irregular soldiers, have helped to bring a fragile peace to the beleaguered empire in the west. But, with the empire now at peace, his master, Flavius Aetius, decides to chain up his dogs of war.
Ambrosius and his men are left to idle away their days in a rural backwater, but Ambrosius’ boredom is brutally swept aside when old rivals seize the opportunity to destroy him.
Pursued as a traitor by the imperial guard, Ambrosius takes his loyal band, along with other dissident soldiers and a Saxon girl, Inga, into the mountains. Since nowhere is safe, Ambrosius travels north, across the crumbling ruins of the empire, to his estranged family in Gaul. But there too, he finds nothing but conflict, for his home town is now besieged by a small army of rebellious Franks. Freedom and peace seem a world away.
Whatever course the soldier takes, Ambrosius and his bucellarii will need to muster all their strength and skill to survive.
At the twilight of the empire, they may be the Last of the Romans…

REVIEW

One of the things I’ve come to expect from Mr. Birks is an adrenaline rush of a tale from start to finish. The Last of the Romans is no exception to that rule; indeed I was gasping for breath in the first chapter. Set in the turbulent time just after the death of Attila, the Western Empire should be stable, but peace is always a fragile thing, and it’s not always beneficial to be aligned to the wrong side in a fractious court. The Last of the Romans is a gripping story of the sheer determination of a very enigmatic leader/ fearsome warrior, to survive some unexpected and dangerous situations.  A wonderful cast of characters, full of the range of emotions that bring life to the narrative as they navigate the many twists, turns, and upsets to their plans that spring from the pages, taunting the readers; daring them to put the book down without knowing what happens next. 5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

City of God (Knights Templar #3) by S.J.A. Turney

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Journey to the heart of an empire: a jaw-dropping historical adventure from master storyteller S.J.A. Turney

Arnau de Vallbona and his fellow Templar Brother Ramon are bound for the Holy Land to take part in the great Crusade when fate intervenes.

Delayed in Cyprus, they learn of a growing rift in Christendom: the crusading army has diverted from its course and threatens Rome’s allies in the Byzantine Empire. Arnau and Ramon, alongside the irascible Preceptor Bochard, race to Constantinople, encountering a grand and crumbling world of alliances and betrayals, emperors and armies.

The fate of the world is at stake. As Christian forces inexorably collide, Arnau is caught in the middle of an epic siege of the greatest city in the world. He will be tested to his limits: follow his vows… or do what’s right?

A novel of awe inspiring scale, battle and story, this is a masterly telling of one of history’s great turning points from S.J.A. Turney, perfect for fans of Bernard Cornwell, Michael Jecks and K. M. Ashman

Praise for SJA Turney

‘Turney masters politics, pace and pursuit in this death-defying twelfth-century story … stunning story-telling’ Prue Batten, author of The Triptych Chronicle Trilogy

REVIEW

When I grow up I want to be able to write historical fiction tales like Mr. Turney. City of God is another example of the author’s prowess at putting words on a page; words that compels the reader, exhorts the reader, to keep turning those pages. In this tale we are taken to the historic fall of Constantinople, where Arnau is caught not only in the Frank/Venetian siege of the city, but also in the horns of a dilemma – the battle of an unwavering obedience to a rigid code versus the moral obligations inherent in the realities of the situation. Richly detailed, thoroughly researched, dramatic action, a plot dripping with irony and surprises, and characters who stand out from the page, City of God has it all.

5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

The Wolves of the North (Warrior of Rome #5) by Harry Sidebottom

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“Warrior of Rome: The Wolves of the North” by Harry Sidebottom marks the start of a new trilogy within the “Warrior of Rome” series. AD263 – barbarian invasions and violent uprisings threaten to tear apart the Imperium of Rome. In the north, the tribes are increasingly bold in their raids on the Imperium – their savagery unlike anything Rome has known before. Ballista must undertake his most treacherous journey yet – a covert attempt to turn the barbarians of the steppe against each other. He must face the Heruli – the most bizarre and brutal of all the nomad tribes – the Eaters of Flesh, the Wolves of the North. As Ballista and his retinue make their journey, someone – or something – is hunting them, picking them off one by one, and leaving a trail of terror and mutilated corpses. Ballista is in a strange land, among strange people, but is it possible that the greatest threat may come from within his own familia?

REVIEW

It seems that donning The Purple, even for a very short time, and for very good reasons, has it’s drawbacks. Still under some suspicion, Ballista and his familia are sent on a perilous, almost hopeless mission to the tribes on the vast Steppe… a region Ballista has a few enemies just itching to get revenge…couple that with a psychopathic killer among the retinue, and oh yeah a wicked curse to boot. A page turner for certain, the tale is replete with the descriptive talent of the author, and his subtle(?) way of introducing his audience to the varied philosophical treatises of the time. The repartee between the members of the familia, the bonds forged over decades, these are the bits that drive the narrative. The unknown madman among them seeks to destroy those bonds. A masterful tale in a masterful series of tales, and there is more to come.  5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

The Last Battle (Agent of Rome #7) by Nick Brown

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Aurelian, Emperor of Rome, has one last enemy left to conquer: in Gaul, the usurper Tetricus holds sway, and Aurelian will need every last man if he is to unify his domain and bring peace to the Empire.

One of those men is Cassius Corbulo, now seconded to the legion of Prefect Venator in southern Gaul. When a leading general is abducted on the eve of battle, Cassius is ordered to find and rescue him before the enemy gain crucial intelligence. As ever he is accompanied by attendant Simo and Indavara, the ex-gladiator bodyguard. After a punishing few years, both Cassius and Indavara doubt themselves: do they still have the strength and courage to survive this deadly mission behind enemy lines?

Their foe is Volosus: a veteran agent as resourceful as Cassius but far more ruthless. If he is victorious, Tetricus will gain a crucial advantage that might turn the tide of the coming war.

Who will survive the Last Battle?

REVIEW

The finale of The Agent of Rome series, The Last Battle, is one emotional read, not only because of the content of the story, but also because it is the last of one of my favorite collection of books. The author, throughout the various missions Corbulo, Indavara and Simo are sent on has given me hours of enjoyment. Each tale in a different locale, each one with different enemies, and certainly different dangers. Book seven is no different in those respects, a rousing tale of rescue, a battle between two Roman armies to see who will rule, however, in this tale there are loose ends to tie up. The future of the main characters is dealt with in a superb, yet heart string tugging manner (I will not say more about that.) I will say that I am going to miss all of them. So my peeps and fellow readers, if you have not ventured into the Agent of Rome series, I highly recommend it. As Corbulo says to one of his companions, ‘Ah, well, glad you asked – prepare to be impressed!’  5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Oathbreaker: One man’s stand against the tyranny of empire by Adam Lofthouse

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“It’s not the shadows you should fear, but what hides within.”
Alaric is an enemy of Rome.
For too long he has thwarted the empires attempts to gain control over the land that has long resisted them: Germania.
To the Romans he is a scourge, always evading their carefully laid traps. But to the tribes he is much worse: Outlaw, chief killer, battle turner, Oathbreaker.
All men know him, all men fear him. At his back is a war host, on his shoulder sits Loki, the Trickster.
A deal has been struck between the legions and the tribes: lifelong enemies agree to become friends, for a time. The eagles march with the wolves, together they hunt the raven.
Isolated and lacking in allies, will Alaric be able to break free from the noose that slowly encircles him? Or will the Sly One once more come to his rescue.
OATHBREAKER: One man’s stand against the tyranny of empire.

PRAISE FOR ADAM LOFTHOUSE

“The characters are full of the life of the period, their flaws, their doubts, their abilities all on display; a feast for the readers” – HOOVER BOOK REVIEW

“No holds barred, vivid Roman entertainment, probably the next best thing to actually being there” – SPEESH READS

“A great mix of legion camaraderie mixed with a personal plot you can get invested in, add in a couple of big twists along the way and you’ve got a smashing read” – DAVID’S BOOK BLURG

REVIEW

A tightly woven tale of a tightly wound man. Alaric faces many challenges in this fast paced, page turning story, though as daunting and exciting as they are, the most challenging is Alaric himself. Convinced of his ties to the gods, of his own reputation as a warlord, he becomes blind to the pain caused by his actions. A deeply complex character combined with a plot replete with twists, turns, and surprises. Come along for the ride, my fellow readers, Rome doesn’t play nice with stubborn foes, Alaric doesn’t care too much about Rome period… ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Eagles in the Wilderness SHORT story (Eagles of Rome series): A Tullus ‘long’ short story by Ben Kane

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ABOUT THE SHORT STORY’S PRICE: Hello, you lovely people. Odd to talk about money straight up, but I know that some of you might be thinking, £1.99 is a lot for a short story. Let me explain how it works. A rate of 20% VAT (Value Added Tax) applies to eBooks in the UK. This doesn’t apply to ‘real’ paper books. That means 33p of the £1.99 goes straight to the British government. Amazon takes around 2p to deliver the story to your Kindle, then takes another 48p as its cut. The remainder, £1.16, goes to me. That’s not a great deal, I hope you agree.

In these times of falling sales, and authors losing their contracts, and only one in seven traditionally published authors being able to write fulltime, stories like this are a vital way of YOU supporting the authors whose books you enjoy. So THANK YOU for your support!

Think of it in terms of a pint of beer or a cup of coffee: they cost £2-4, depending on where you live. This story will give you more enjoyment (I think!) than either of those things, and last for a longer time, and cost you less money.

This is only the second time I have self-published a short story. (Massive thanks here to Pete Simpson, who designed the cover for me!) It’s been an exciting project since the day I did the poll on Facebook, asking you lovely people which of my characters you wanted me to write about. Centurion Tullus won out, narrowly, and this is the result. The one hundred and something people who backed the Kickstarter campaign got to read this story almost 7 months ago, but now you can too.

Enjoy the story, and please email me if you have any questions about it or anything else – ben@benkane.net

REVIEW

Whatever you want to call it; short story, novella, or a grand extended snippet, the author has created an enjoyable tale. In a scenario where “you can take the man out of The Legion, but you can’t take The Legion out of the man”, a former centurion and his mates join together in a business venture that reacquaints them with the rigors and dangers of soldiering. An interesting mix of characters, action that pulls the reader in, and a story line of a time and place not usually written about makes Eagles in the Wilderness a solid 4 star page turner. ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Commodus (The Damned Emperors #2) by Simon Turney

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Rome is enjoying a period of stability and prosperity. The Empire’s borders are growing, and there are two sons in the imperial succession for the first time in Rome’s history.

But all is not as it appears. Cracks are beginning to show. Two decades of war have taken their toll, and there are whispers of a sickness in the East. The Empire stands on the brink of true disaster, an age of gold giving way to one of iron and rust, a time of reason and strength sliding into hunger and pain.

The decline may yet be halted, though. One man tries to hold the fracturing empire together. To Rome, he is their emperor, their Hercules, their Commodus.

But Commodus is breaking up himself, and when the darkness grips, only one woman can hold him together. To Rome she was nothing. The plaything of the emperor. To Commodus, she was everything. She was Marcia.

REVIEW

Well now, that was certainly not the Commodus from Gladiator. Once again, Mr. Turney has taken on myth and misconception, and has brought forth a fascinating look at one of the more enigmatic of the Roman emperors. As in his other novels, the author relies on his ability to glean from contemporary sources those facts or myths, and turn them into a page turning (and to this burgeoning author), mind boggling tale that grabs the reader’s attention from page one, word one, and does not relent in it’s grip. Written from the perspective of Marcia, the narrative is rich in detail, poignant in its telling, and once again left this reader amazed at the creative talent of the author. 5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Emperor’s Sword (Imperial Assassin #1) by Alex Gough

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A desolate wasteland. A mission gone wrong. An impossible goal. A gripping new series of Ancient Rome

Roman scout Silus is deep behind enemy lines in Caledonia. As he spies on a raiding party, he is abruptly discovered by an enemy chief and his son.

Mounting a one man ambush, everything quickly goes wrong. Silus must run for his life, the head of the enemy leader in his hands. Little does he know the price he will pay…

As Silus is inducted into the Arcani, an elite faction of assassins and spies, he must return to Caledonia, back into the wilderness, and risk everything in the service of his Caesar. The odds don’t look good.

Failure is not an option.

REVIEW

What we have here is an example of an author using the historical research, or lack thereof, and combining that with a creative flair to produce an exciting story of loss and courage. A no holds barred sweep of competing forces bent on total destruction of their foes, Emperor’s Sword is also a glimpse into the human soul as Silus copes with the guilt ridden hopelessness that underlies his life, and is a driving force in the revenge he seeks. I love Roman fiction, there are so many eras, places, and people to bring to life on a written page, and this one is spot on. Caracalla in Caledonia, oh what fun. A page turning, heart pounding tale awaits you, my fellow readers.  5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐