The Blood Crows by Simon Scarrow

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The duo of Cato and Macro once again are in the middle of a mess; this time in Britannia fighting against the formidable leader, Caratacus.  Of course, that isn’t enough for the author as there is also the challenge presented by a rogue centurion and his fellow Thracian auxiliary cohort.  A robust, heart pounding tale of bravery and steadfast loyalty awaits the reader in this 12th episode in the series.   Life was hard at these frontier outposts and the author excels at bringing those hardships to life.  It is also a continued strengthening of the bond between Cato and Macro despite that Cato now outranks his friend and mentor.  4.3 stars

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Blood of Rome: Retribution by John Salter

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Almost nothing came easy to the Romans as they attempted to conquer Britain. Even Gaius Julius Caesar failed, not once but twice. One of the big reasons for this difficulty was the Briton known as Caratacus. He is a fascinating figure, a charismatic leader, a fearless warrior and a man who learns from his mistakes. In book one of this series by John Salter he made the mistake of trying to take on the Legions head on. In book two he has changed his tactics and now Rome is faced with a dangerous foe who will stop at nothing to drive the invaders from his homeland.
The author has taken book two up a notch as he takes us more deeply into the minds of the main characters, especially Caratacus/Caradoc and the Roman Centurion Varro. He has also continued the meticulous research that makes this story come alive not only in action but in the emotional conflicts that arose as the native peoples struggled to decide how to deal with Rome…to acquiesce and enjoy Roman favor or to remain free. Throw in a few plot twists and an optio with a terrific wit and you have a solid 4 star story…a story that is not done yet.

Blood of Rome: Caratacus by John Salter

This, the debut novel of John Salter, is the story of the legendary Briton Caratacus and his quest to protect his homeland from the Claudian invasion of Britain.  Most of the book focuses on the 2nd Augusta Legion under it’s Legate Vespasian as he strives to convince the various tribes to acquiesce to Roman rule and order.  The author brings to life some very interesting characters both Roman and Briton in this well researched tale.  The Britons Caratacus, Adminius and Brenna bring to life the differences of opinion as to whether submission to Rome or the destruction of the invader is the better choice for their home and people.  Their motives and emotions are vastly different from each other(I won’t say who is of which opinion so as to not reveal a spoiler, though Caratacus’ choice is probably well known) and are the heart and soul of the conflict.

As in any good story there are plenty of plot twists especially one towards the end that is very nice yet very nasty and I was taken completely by surprise.  The battle scenes are well done, the gore is not overly excessive yet enough so that you get the feel of what it would have been like to be a Roman legionnaire facing a menacing group of  frenzied, woad covered warriors.  You also get to know what it was like to be an advance scouting party of Roman cavalry from the intense fear to the comradeship of the men involved.  I am looking forward to the next volume in this saga as the battle for Britain is far from over and Caractacus is as determined as ever to throw the Romans back into the sea.  My rating for this is 3.8 stars.