Sunday, 18 August 2013

HISTORICAL FICTION REVIEW: The Sword of Rome - Douglas Jackson

Release Date: 15/08/13
Publisher:  Bantam


"The story I now commence is rich in vicissitudes, grim with warfare, torn by civil strife, a tale of horror even during times of peace". (Tacitus, "The Histories" AD 68). The Emperor Nero's erratic and bloody reign is in its death throes when Gaius Valerius Verrens is dispatched to Rome on a mission that will bring it to a close. With Nero dead, the city holds its breath and awaits the arrival his successor, Servius Sulpicius Galba, governor of Hispania. The Empire prays for peace, but it prays in vain. Galba promises stability and prosperity, but his rule begins with a massacre and ends only months later in chaos and carnage. This will become known as the Year of the Four Emperors, a time of civil war which will tear Rome apart and test Valerius' skills and loyalties to their very limit. Fortunate to survive Galba's fall, Valerius is sent on a mission by Rome's new Emperor, Otho, to his old friend Vitellius, commander of the armies of the north. Vitellius' legions are on the march, and only Valerius can persuade him to halt them before the inevitable confrontation. In an epic adventure that will take him the length and breadth of a divided land, the one-armed Roman fights to stay alive and stave off a bloodbath as he is stalked by the most implacable enemy he has ever faced.


OK, you love historical fiction, want high octane action which when backed with twists and turns of the political machinations of Rome generates a story that you just can’t leave. So what are you going to do? Well if you’ve been following the release schedule for the last few years, you’ll have seen Douglas Jackson going from not only strength to strength but adding a set of figures that make him one of the growing stars of the genre for me.

I love his characters, I love the way he blends historical facts into the story and above all else, for me, I love the way he utilises great action sequences to help the pace alongside balancing the slower moments that are just as full of tension as a misplaced word can have all sorts of catastrophic effects. All round another solid offering in this series and one that readers will gather around to see what is next in line for the principle hero. However the only downside in this book and one that I’m letting readers know about is you have to have read the other titles in the series first to get the most from this. All round though, great stuff.

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