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 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Praetorian: Lions of Rome by SJA Turney

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Rufinus is dead, crumpled at the base of a cliff in far-off Dacia. Or so the world believes. Back in the west, secretly in the entourage of the fierce Septimius Severus, the young hero moves in the shadows with fellow conspirators in an attempt to finally bring down the would-be tyrant of Rome: Cleander.

Under assumed names and in a variety of roles, the former Praetorian conspires with some of the most important men in Rome, bringing the city to the very brink of disaster in a grand and complex plot to cause the fall of the untouchable chamberlain.

And as governors, prefects, Praetorians and consuls work their secret plots in the seedy underbelly of Rome, Rufinus finds he has an opportunity to settle old scores along the way.

The empire is suffering. Rome is seething. Rufinus is back.

REVIEW

In the most complex Praetorian yet, Mr. Turney has delivered yet another masterpiece bringing together every element in the city of Rome, in a taut thriller to bring down the vile Cleander. There are a lot of moving pieces on the game board as the Septimus Severus led conspiracy plays a long waiting game; everything has to be right for them to succeed. It is this long wait that could have been a negative as far as slowing the pace of the narrative, a lessening in the number of stars awarded. But, my dear readers, just as Rufinus chafes at the wait, you must also. Like Rufinus, I was growing impatient, but like Severus, the author knew best…the last quarter is justification for the wait. In fairness, the drawn out grain part, while causing anxious moments for the conspirators, and the occasional sigh by me, is in retrospect necessary to the narrative. When you’re going after the most powerful “right hand man of The Emperor” since Sejanus, you better be sure all your plans are laid out in meticulous detail.  Besides, dear reader, the last quarter of the book is pure Turney excitement magic.

Book four of this series is also a prime example of the research that the author employs in all of his books. The descriptions, for example, of the streets of Commodus’ Rome makes the reader feel like he’s walking down familiar byways. In addition to that level of detail, you have a more complete Rufinus. He is now an elite warrior/spy exuding confidence in all of his tasks – a killer when necessary – a wearer of many masks – yet still possessing a compassionate outlook and a questioning mind. Yes, my peeps and fellow travelers, ready yourself for time well spent as you read Lions of Rome.  5 Stars