Monday, 2 July 2012

HISTORICAL FICTION REVIEW: The Ghosts of Athens - Richard Blake

Release Date: 07/06/12


The Roman Empire faces the barbarian horde. 612 AD. Decadent, desperate Athens is the Roman Empire's most vulnerable city. Aelric - senator of the Roman Empire, fresh from a bloodbath in Egypt that may or may not be regarded in Constantinople as his fault - is forced to divert the Imperial galley to Athens for reasons the Emperor has neglected to share with him. He finds a demoralized and corrupt provincial city threatened by an army rumoured to contain twenty million starving barbarians. Not to mention an explosive religious dispute, an unexplained corpse, and hints of something worse than murder. Is he on a high level mission to save the Empire? Or has he been set up to fail? Or is the truth even worse than he can at first imagine? He will have to call upon all his formidable intellect and lethal ingenuity to survive his enemies inside and outside the city walls ..


To be honest I picked this title and expected something completely to what was present. What this story offers the reader is a tale that takes the reader through a journey of warfare, intrigue, politics and of course survivability in a world where there’s a dagger at everyone’s back with no telling when it might suddenly be thrust forward. The prose is reasonable, the characters solid but sadly one of my bugbears raises it head as the principle character is never in any real danger as the story is told by him in his elderly age.

That for me eliminates a huge part of the thrill of an adventure with so many perils and as such left me feeling cheated. All in it is a reasonable offering but had it been told from the time it was happening rather than looked at from the future, it would have added a better twist to keep the adrenaline flowing.

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