Watchmen of Rome by Alex Gough


Ahh, the sights and pungent smells of The Subura, a lovely place for the setting of this engaging story.  Carbo has returned home to Rome after 25 years in the Legions from which he retired as a Pilus Prior Centurion and who survived the Teutoburg Forest disaster.  All he is looking for is to reunite with his aged mother and to begin a relaxing life as a civilian, none of which is in his immediate future.  From the get go the author takes the reader on an adventurous ride as Carbo faces one challenge after another.  A neighborhood protection gang, a runaway slave and her daughter who Carbo had sworn an oath to protect years ago, a fanatical priestess of the old Carthaginian gods who has plans to destroy Rome using the slave’s daughter as human sacrifice and a relentless, ruthless fugitive slave hunter…suffice to say that the author has given us tale filled with action as well as a tale filled with emotional strain and anguish.  The characters are well developed and are such that you feel what they feel; this is also evident in the descriptions of the stew that was the Subura, you can envision the dense crowds, the noise of hawking vendors, the smell of the detritus of chamberpots, the reality of the daily lives of the poor.  That is another of the reasons I enjoyed this novel, the characters are the ordinary, the lowborn, the freedmen and the slaves not the high and mighty.  Tiberius and Sejanus while they are mentioned are there only to give the sense of time and atmosphere.

As this book was recommended to me, so to do I recommend it to you.  A solid 5 stars.


About the author:

I’m a veterinary surgeon from the southwest of England, working in referral practice. I have had a decades long interest in Ancient Roman history, and Watchmen of Rome is the culmination of a lot of research into the underclasses of Ancient Rome. I am also the author of two veterinary textbooks, Breed Predispositions to Disease in Dogs and Cats and Differential Diagnosis in Small Animal Medicine, both of which have been translated into multiple languages and are in their second editions. I would love to interact with readers, please email me at You can also follow me on twitter @romanfiction, like romanfiction on facebook, or visit my website for reviews of roman fiction, and articles about Roman history