Thursday, 2 July 2009
HISTORICAL FICTION: Ship of Rome - John Stack
Against a backdrop of the clash of the Roman and Carthaginian empires, the battle for sovereignty takes place on the high seas Atticus, captain of one of the ships of Rome's small, coastal fleet, is from a Greek fishing family. Septimus, legionary commander, reluctantly ordered aboard ship, is from Rome, born into a traditionally army family. It could never be an easy alliance. But the arrival of a hostile fleet, larger, far more skilful and more powerful than any Atticus has encountered before, forces them to act together. So Atticus, one of Rome's few experienced sailors, finds himself propelled into the middle of a political struggle that is completely foreign to him. Rome need to build a navy fast but the obstacles are many; political animosities, legions adamant that they will only use their traditional methods; Roman prejudice even from friends, that all those not born in Rome are inferior citizens. The enemy are first class, experienced and determined to control the seas. Can Atticus, and the fledgling Roman navy, staffed with inexperienced sailors and unwilling legionaries, outwit and outfight his opponents. SHIP OF ROME, full of magnificent sea-battles, packed with strong characters, torn between two powerful empires, is the first book in a new series, MASTERS OF THE SEA, by a brilliant new author.
As a general fan of books about Rome it would probably come as no surprise to people that the vast majority centre around a protagonist who is either a major name (such as Julius Caesar), a gladiator (or gladiatorix if you want to get gender specific) or a commoner in the land army. What hasn’t been presented before is a series centring on the naval aspect of Rome, until now that is (incidentally please don’t write mention Simon Scarrow’s The Eagle’s Prophecy, that was a single book not a series devoted to the Navy.) Within this tale are details of one of the Punic Wars between Rome and Carthage with a cracking cast of characters to drive it headlong into the Mediterranean Sea. Well written, crisp action sequences along with major repercussions for the characters as each tries to fulfil their goals makes this definitely a series to watch. Heavy action sequences balanced with the bleak and probably often short lives of sailors as well as the marine core of soldiers who defended them against superior sailors really does make this compelling, I’ll definitely make sure that the second novel, Captain of Rome is at the peak of my Historical Fiction swell on its arrival in January 2010.