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

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 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐