Monday, 1 September 2014

HISTORICAL FICTION REVIEW: Gaius Valerius Vallens 5: Enemy of Rome - Douglas Jackson

Release Date: 28/08/14
Publisher:  Bantam


Summer, AD 69. Rome and its empire are in turmoil, caught in the coils of a desperate and destructive civil war.

The emperor Otho is dead by his own hand and his rival, Aulus Vitellius, occupies the imperial throne. However, a new challenge has arisen in the East - the legions of Titus Flavius Vespasian have declared him their Emperor.

In the dry heat of an August morning, Gaius Valerius Verrens prepares for his last day on earth. Wrongly accused of deserting his legion on the field of Bedriacum, it seems he is destined to die a coward's death.

Then the executioner's hand is stayed. Vitellius' enemies will spare the life of the man who was once Hero of Rome if he pledges allegiance to Vespasian and his cause. Valerius - tired of the endless slaughter and hoping that he might be reunited with his lost love - agrees. And so he must battle his way south to Rome in order to persuade his friend Vitellius to stand down for the greater good of the city, its people and the Empire.

But this is civil war and this is Rome, and Valerius - his loyalties divided and branded an enemy of the people - is trapped in a maze of distrust, corruption, betrayal and blood-letting . . .


The latest outing from Douglas Jackson for Gaius and perhaps the one that puts him in the most danger to date as he is offered a way out from execution if he pledges to Vespasian. As usual with Douglas’ writing the reader is treated to not only a kick ass story with solid bloody battle sequences but also accompanied by a deep intelligence of cunningly added with political machinations alongside double-dealing.

It’s definitely something unique and for me a series that I have had a hell of a lot of fun with. (Usually meaning only to read a few pages and then notice the sun creeping through the curtains.) All round a great piece of writing and for me a UK name that truly delivers with each release. Magic.

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