Rome’s Lost Son (Vespasian #6) by Robert Fabbri

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Rome, AD 51: Vespasian brings Rome’s greatest enemy before the Emperor. After eight years of resistance, the British warrior Caratacus has been caught. But even Vespasian’s victory cannot remove the newly-made consul from Roman politics: Agrippina, Emperor Claudius’s wife, pardons Caratacus. Claudius is a drunken fool and Narcissus and Pallas, his freedmen, are battling for control of his throne. Separately, they decide to send Vespasian East to Armenia to defend Rome’s interests. But there is more at stake than protecting a client kingdom. Rumors abound that Agrippina is involved in a plot to destabilise the East. Vespasian must find a way to serve two masters—Narcissus is determined to ruin Agrippina, Pallas to save her. Meanwhile, the East is in turmoil. A new Jewish cult is flourishing and its adherents refuse to swear loyalty to the Emperor. In Armenia, Vespasian is captured. Immured in the oldest city on earth, how can he escape? And is a Rome ruled by a woman who despises Vespasian any safer than a prison cell?

REVIEW

A gap in the historical record of Vespasian; a veritable open canvas for the author, a proving ground for a fertile imagination. Once again I was awed by the character building, and the level of political intrigue involved in this brilliant look at Vespasian and the way he is playing the “long game”. His birth prophecy and a sacrificial liver set him on a course to the throne, but a lot has to happen first. And a lot does happen in this intricate, page turning tale.  Claudius is on the way out…Nero is next in line to continue the Julio-Claudian tendency to excess… Rome’s Lost Son, as one would expect given the previous books in the series, is a thrilling tale that keeps the reader coming back for more. 5⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Emperor’s Knife (Imperial Assassin #2) by Alex Gough

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Brothers. Emperors. Deadly enemies… An unputdownable novel of intrigue and combat in Rome.

Emperor Severus is on his deathbed. His sons Geta and Caracalla, feuding in Britannia, are readying for a devastating power struggle.

Silus, now a centurion in the Arcani, the secretive network of spies and killers, is thrown into the maelstrom. Back in Rome, plots breed in the stinking alleys.

Everyone might be an enemy. Everyone a traitor. As an Imperial Assassin, Silus’ loyalty will be tested to breaking point. And with the Empire starting to buckle under the strain, Silus must ask what matters: Rome or his own damned soul?

Better watch yourself…

From thundering races at the Circus Maximus to death in the Imperial palaces, this is a powerful and unputdownable novel that will transport to you Ancient Rome, perfect for fans of Ben Kane, Simon Scarrow and Conn Iggulden.

REVIEW

A heart pounding, heart breaking tale as Silus finds himself thrust into situations where his devotion and loyalty to his Arcani master and the Emperor are put to extreme tests. A well crafted story that is part soul searching dilemma and part action filled excitement. Caught between the ever increasing divide between the co-emperors, and the demands of his assigned missions, Silus struggles to maintain his loyalties, not only to his masters, but to his friends as well.  Plots full of surprises, characters who draw you into the narrative, the ability to keep the reader turning the pages, and a nice teaser at the end makes Emperor’s Knife an enjoyable romp in yet another troubled dynastic period in Rome’s history. 5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

 

Brothers in Blood by Simon Scarrow

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The Roman Empire’s conquest of Britannia is under threat from within.

A messenger on the streets of Rome has been intercepted and tortured, revealing a plot to sabotage the Roman army’s campaign against Caratacus, commander of Britannia’s native tribes. A treacherous agent’s mission is to open a second front of attack against them and eliminate the two Roman soldiers who could stand in the way.

Unwarned, Prefect Cato and Centurion Macro are with the Roman army pursuing Caratacus and his men through the mountains of Britannia. Defeating Caratacus seems within their grasp. But the plot against the two heroes threatens not only their military goals but also their lives.

Includes 2 maps and Roman army organisation chart.

REVIEW

Another rousing adventure for Cato and Macro. Another excellent addition to the series. On the trail of Rome’s worst nightmare in Britannia, the redoubtable and seemingly invincible Caratacus, our dynamic duo are once again the playthings of palace intrigue. A well conceived plot full of action and surprises…I thought for sure I knew who the traitor in their midst was…I was wrong…😊… So my fellow readers, if you’ve gotten this far in this series, you know what to expect, and yet it still seems fresh, and there’s more to come.  4⭐⭐⭐⭐

Dark Eagle (Legionary #8) by Gordon Doherty

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What hope has one forgotten soldier of bringing an emperor to justice?

Winter, 382 AD. The Gothic War is over. After years of bloodshed, the Eastern Roman Empire and the Goths have struck a deal for peace. Imperial heralds crow about the treaty as if it were a triumph. Feasts and celebrations take place across the Eastern provinces. Every hero of the war is honoured and acclaimed… except one.

Tribunus Pavo languishes in exile, haunted by a dark truth: that it was Gratian, Emperor of the West – the most powerful man alive – who caused the war and manipulated its every turn. Tormented by memories of loved ones lost during the great conflict, one word tolls endlessly through Pavo’s mind: Justice!

But in this great game of empire, justice rarely comes without a grave cost

REVIEW

With all of the strife the XI Claudia has faced in the previous episodes of the Legionary series, one might think that they could use a break. After all, there is now peace with The Goths, The Huns are being contained; a time to recoup and recover from their travails. However, that would be a rather dull story. Thankfully, the author feels the same way, though I did question him as to what the XI Claudia, and Pavo in particular, ever do to him as Dark Eagle sends them through hell and then some. What transpires is a page turning tale of courage, loyalty, and most of all, survival. A plot line that is rarely straight, is full of surprises, and beckons the reader to feel the pains, the agonies, and even the joys of this resilient group of dedicated legionaries. Indeed, my fellow readers, there were times I had to stop and wonder, “How are they gonna get out of this one?” An excellent addition to the Legionary series awaits you.  5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐