Amber Road

(Warrior of Rome #6)

by Harry Sidebottom

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AD 264 – The Roman Empire is torn in two.

The western provinces – Gaul, Spain and Britain – have been seized by the pretender Postumus. To the east, on the plains of northern Italy, the armies of the emperor Gallienus muster.

War is coming.

Everyone must choose a side.

On a mission shrouded in secrecy and suspicion, Ballista must journey The Amber Road to the far north to Hyperborea, back to his original home and the people of his birth.

A fearsome, masked warlord attacks, bringing fire and sword against the Angles. Yet not all welcome Ballista`s return.

Does treachery pose the greatest danger?

REVIEW

All of the curses endured, all of the enemies made, all of the oaths reneged on, all of his failures, all of his fears for his family, all of the brooding sadness over the loss of Calgacus – all of these things have left their mark on Ballista/Dernhelm. All of that makes for another page turning episode in this remarkable series. It seems fitting that the last episode finds Ballista in his homeland…though his homecoming is not a joyous one…an impossible mission, but a damn fine bit of storytelling. 4⭐⭐⭐⭐

Shield of the Rising Sun

(Path of Nemesis #3)

by Adam Lofthouse

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War still rages at the edge of empire while centurion Albinus Silus fights at its beating heart.

Gone is the boy who joined the legions. What remains is a man torn apart by the savagery of battle, the heartache of lost love.

He does not know what became of his wife, and now he must balance being both a soldier and a father.

And yet, for all his pain, he shall have to endure more than he ever thought he could. His valour in the northern wars has not gone unnoticed, and now he is to be given a special mission.

Marcus Aurelius’ star falls with his health. One day the sun will rise on his successor and son, Commodus. But he must be ready, must know what it is to lead. Centurion Albinus has been chosen to educate him.

From Pannonia to Rome, to the far reaches of the east, Albinus must protect Commodus from enemies both inside the empire and out.

Can he keep the Caesar safe? Can he nurture him, teach him what it is to be a man? Can he be The Shield of the Rising Sun?

REVIEW

Just as the we’ve seen the main character grow from a boy in The Centurion’s Son, into a man in War in the Wilderness, and into the mature leader of men in this the third book, Shield of the Rising Sun, now we are also witnessing the growth of an author. This tale is a veritable thrill ride interspersed with the angst, frustration, and emotional toll of a father and son seeking to be at peace with themselves while their world shatters with rebellion, forcing some difficult decisions for all involved.

One aspect of the story that I really enjoyed was the character of Calvus – both as a boon companion to Albinus, and as mentor/protector of Faustus. It is through his eyes that we see the tale unfold as he tells Faustus about his father. It is his voice that compels the reader to turn the page, that draws the reader in, leading us to the inevitable climax – to the end of a remarkable series. Of that I will say naught – you, my fellow readers will have to discover that on your own time. 5⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

War in the Wilderness (The Centurion’s Son Chronicles Book 2) by Adam Lofthouse

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Germania, winter, AD 168.

Balomar, King of the Marcomanni and leader of the united army of the tribes, broods and drinks his way through the long winter as his alliance falls apart. He won great fame when he destroyed the Fourteenth legion and brought his army to Italian soil. Rome will not let his victory go unanswered; new legions have been formed, and their spear tips point north.

Elsewhere Albinus braves the harsh weather and tribal hordes as he searches desperately for Licina, his lost fiancé. Once more he must play dice with Fortuna as he launches himself into the iron storm.

For Rome, and his father’s shade…

REVIEW

A sequel well worth the wait. The tale takes up where Centurion’s Son left off, so in no time the reader is propelled into an action packed drama pitting Albinus and his 14th Legion comrades against the elements and foe alike. As in the first book, we get a glimpse of life in a frontier/wilderness Roman legion; the camaraderie between Albinus and his mates, their absolute dedication to the Eagle despite the rigors, dangers, and discomforts.  The characters are full of the life of the period, their flaws, their doubts, their abilities are all on display; a feast for the readers. The tale, as the title indicates, is a war story replete with not only gladius laden battles, and skirmishes, but it is also one with elements of mystery and espionage. In what is a very striking and unexpected turn of events, Albinus finds himself once again in search of Licinia, but I will say naught of that. You, my fellow readers, will have to discover why for yourselves.  😊  4 stars

Eagles of Dacia – Praetorian 3 by S.J.A. Turney

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A most enjoyable journey is this, the third book in the Praetorian series.  Rufinus has been dispatched on a mission to a remote corner of the Empire; a mission that demands success from the odious chancellor Cleander, who has Rufinus’ brother held hostage to ensure this success.  What follows is a roller coaster of a ride as Rufinus, Senova, and Acheron the wonder dog traverse the Danubian world seeking to find evidence of treason among the area’s governors. Once again, the author transported me to a region of the globe I am not too familiar with, but which he has trod, and the result is a dazzling display of descriptive narrative. This combined with a flair for fascinating characters, wonderful dialogue, and a truly believable tale make Eagles of Dacia an entertaining read. The only question I have for Mr. Turney is this: why do you dislike Rufinus so much?  After all the torment and pain he endured in the first two books, he could have used a bit of a breather.  Just kidding, after all, that’s one of the traits that makes Rufinus so interesting; his resilience under extreme duress.  4.8 stars – maybe he’ll catch a break in book 4.  🙂

The Centurion’s Son by Adam Lofthouse

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Albinus, the son of a retired, and much revered First Spear Centurion of the 14th Legion, is ill equipped to be the man and soldier his father plans for him to be, and yet through the vicissitudes of life on the wild frontier along the Danube River, he strives to achieve his father’s hopes.  Set against the backdrop of the Marcomannic War in 167 A.D. and the rise of the Glycon Cult started by Alexander of Abonoteichus, the author has crafted a compelling debut novel.  An emotionally charged, action packed tale of revenge, rebellion, survival, and heart rending losses.  Mr. Lofthouse is a self proclaimed lover of the ancient world and this is readily seen throughout The Centurion’s Son; most especially in his descriptions of the Roman legions.  The camaraderie between the legionaries of the 14th’s !st Century is a definite highlight in this wonderful tale.  Hoover Book Reviews highly recommends this intriguing and well plotted story, and looks forward to the sequel.  4.2 stars