Release Date: 28/03/13
"Rome: AD69, The Year of the Four Emperors". Three Emperors have ruled in Rome this year and a fourth, Vespasian, has been named in the East. As the legions march toward civil war, Sebastos Pantera, the spy whose name means leopard, returns to Rome intent on bribery, blackmail and persuasion: whatever it takes to bring the commanders and their men to Vespasian's side. But in Rome, as he uses every skill he has ever learned of subterfuge, codes and camouflage, it becomes clear that one of those closest to him is a traitor, who will let Rome fall to destroy him. Together the two spies spin a web of deceit with Rome as the prize and death the only escape.
Manda has always been an historical fiction author that I like to spend time with, ever since I cracked open her Boudica titles. As with those, she has a talent for bringing characters to life for the time period in which they live. You get to know them intimately, you get a sense of friendship and each hurt that they suffer within, be it emotional or physical, the reader is there with them.
Following hard on the heels of Eagle of the Twelfth this book grabs the reader from the outset and takes them on a journey unlike any other as various character points of view give the reader a fully fleshed personal view of the characters within blended with established history. Back that up with writing that is not only personable but also something that readers will have a hard time putting down, which when backed with cracking prose, top notch dialogue made this a book that’s a standard setter for the year ahead.