The Earthly Gods by Nick Brown

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Indavara held captive by unknown persons for nefarious purposes.  Cassius Corbulo gone off the “Service” grid to help an old friend while he awaits any word on the whereabouts of Indavara.  The Agent of Rome series by Nick Brown is a must read for anyone interested, not only in the doings of the Roman world, but also those who like a good mystery/detective/action/thriller.   As the series has progressed, so too, have the main characters…to the point where Corbulo/Indavara/Simo have become fictional favorites of mine.  As in the previous volumes, the author gives the reader an excellent tale filled with surprises and an imagination filling description of the places and people involved.  The main difference in this episode as opposed to the earlier ones is that this one does not follow a particular historical event, but rather is more personal in it’s context giving the author a chance to explore in more detail the things that make Corbulo and company tick, exposing more of the emotions and feelings of the crew.  I eagerly await the next volume.  4.7 stars

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The Emperor’s Silver – Agent of Rome 5 by Nick Brown

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After some harrowing and dangerous assignments, Cassius Corbulo is looking forward to a seemingly less life threatening job that will utilize his growing investigative skills.  So, along with his imposing bodyguard Indavara and his Christian slave Simo, Corbulo heads to the town of Berytus to uncover a counterfeiting ring.  Seemingly is the operative word in the opening sentence as the situation in this small peaceful town is hardly that.  Civil unrest, dangerous counterfeiters and a mysterious group of perceived assassins who have followed our trio make for some exciting action while Corbulo meets dead end after dead end looking for the counterfeiting gang.

The most intriguing aspects of this the 5th volume in the Agent of Rome series is the continual growth of the the three main characters, especially of Simo and Indavara.  Simo’s ever growing faith puts him at loggerheads with Corbulo on numerous occasions.  Indavara gets more interesting with every book and I was hooked on him with his arena scenes early on.  Going from a context void of a past, he has come a long way and is a more complex individual than just a skilled killer.

The author knows this time and place well as his descriptions flow out of his research and gives the reader a sense of being in the dusty streets or dingy taverns.  I wait with great anticipation for the next episode.  5 stars

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The Black Stone by Nick Brown

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Over the course of the last few years I have delved into quite a few books that are parts of a series.  The Agent of Rome series by Nick Brown being one of the best of them.  The Black Stone, the fourth book in the series, continues the adventures of Cassius Corbulo, his slave/attendant Simo and his bodyguard Indavara.  In this tale they are on the trail of the mysterious black stone, an ancient object of worship that has been stolen and one that the Emperor Aurelian really wants back.  The thief has it taken to a very remote spot in the Hejaz Mountains in Arabia where he is building a cult following for a sun god and where he is also fomenting rebellion among the nomadic tribes against Rome.  The narrative brings out a perfect feel for the inhospitable, treacherous and dangerous terrain Corbulo and his crew must cross just to get to the location.  Corbulo is not your typical Roman soldier; he is not a warrior, but a deeply sensitive and very intelligent man and it takes all of his smarts to outwit his foes.

One of the things an author must accomplish in any series of books that utilize the same main characters is a continuing sense of character development.  Nick Brown passes this test with flying colors.  The reader gets to know more and more about the three companions as the relationships between them are tested; to the limit in some instances, and one does not know until the end if they pass those tests.  Another strength of the author, the drama and intrigue of the plot, held me spellbound during the climatic last half of the book.  Once again I raise my coffee cup in salute for another masterful story and cannot wait to start on book five.  5 stars.

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The Far Shore by Nick Brown

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This is the third entry in The Agent of Rome series featuring Cassius Corbulo and his servant Simo and bodyguard Indavara.  A seemingly simple mission to the island of Rhodes quickly turns into one helluva test for survival. A grisly murder, an overbearing daughter of the deceased, a sea voyage during the stormy season, a Roman town in Africa being ruthlessly run by one nasty, villainous centurion…these things and more await you in yet another tour de force by author Nick Brown.  The book goes along in fine fettle, as has been the case in the first two books in the series, and then, BAM, the quarry chapter.  I can’t say much as to not do the spoiler thing but I will say that the author does some magic as he teases the reader with clues as to who the mysterious third conspirator  is.  I was sure I had it figured out and then I thought it was someone else, and then …well I can only say, well done Nick.  From that point on the book is a roller coaster of excitement, brutality and bravery.  I had to put the book down occasionally to catch my breath as it were before diving back into the maelstrom of events. The character development of Corbulo as he deals with his bouts of introspection and the growing relationship between Corbulo and his companions, particularly that of the enigmatic Indavara are stand out features of the book.

5 stars – lucky for me I already have the next two books in hand  🙂

The Imperial Banner by Nick Brown

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Cassius Corbulo, a reluctant member of the Imperial Secret Service, the Frumentarii or Grain Men, is back in this, the second book of Nick Brown’s exciting series.  In The Imperial Banner, Corbulo is tasked with recovering a significant amount of treasure taken from the Palmyrans after their rebellion has failed and is destined to fill Emperor Aurelian’s depleted coffers.  Among the items stolen is a flag or banner that is very important to the Persians and was to be given to them as a token of peace between Rome and Persia; without it, war is probable.  The trail of the perpetrators leads to Antioch and any number of suspects making this one of those stories where surprises abound and where Corbulo’s investigative abilities and his endurance are tested to the limits.  Aiding him in this task are his manservant, Simo and a wonderful new addition to this series, an ex-gladiator, Indavara.  The author has once again hit the mark with this well crafted and satisfying thriller… a page turning, sleep depriving tale of intrigue and greed.  5 stars..

About the author:

Nick Brown grew up in Norfolk and later studied history at the University of Sussex.In 2000 he embarked on a PCGE course at the University of Exeter and began a career as a teacher of English and humanities.  Having taught in England and Poland he now lives in his home town, Norwich. ‘The Emperor’s Silver’ is the fifth volume of the ‘Agent of Rome’ series.

Titles in this series:

The Siege

The Imperial Banner

The Far Shore

The Black Stone

The Emperor’s Silver