Sunday, 29 May 2011

HISTORICAL FICTION REVIEW: Vespasian 1: Tribune of Rome - Robert Fabbri

Release Date: 10/05/11


ONE MAN: ONE DESTINY 26 AD: Sixteen-year-old Vespasian leaves his family farm for Rome, his sights set on finding a patron and following his brother into the army. But he discovers a city in turmoil and an Empire on the brink. The aging emperor Tiberius is in seclusion on Capri, leaving Rome in the iron grip of Sejanus, commander of the Praetorian Guard. Sejanus is ruler of the Empire in all but name, but many fear that isn't enough for him. Sejanus' spies are everywhere - careless words at a dinner party can be as dangerous as a barbarian arrow. Vespasian is totally out of his depth, making dangerous enemies (and even more dangerous friends - like the young Caligula) and soon finds himself ensnared in a conspiracy against Tiberius. With the situation in Rome deteriorating, Vespasian flees the city to take up his position as tribune in an unfashionable legion on the Balkan frontier. Unblooded and inexperienced, he must lead his men in savage battle with hostile mountain tribes - dangerous enough without renegade Praetorians and Imperial agents trying to kill him too. Somehow, he must survive long enough to uncover the identity of the traitors behind the growing revolt.


With a whole host of books out there featuring the roman army in action, an author has to do something a little different or special to get their title not only noticed but also read by the literal army of potential fans out there. What Robert Fabbri does in his debut novel is place one of the most intruiging Roman Emperors who rose to this elevated position during the “Year of the Four Emperors” (AD 68-69).

Here Robert takes Vespasian from his young beginnings and weaves a magical tale for the reader that will see him rise due to his natural talents. It’s cleverly written, the principle protagonist comes to life within the pages and the reader really is in for a treat as the book unveils its tale through clever prose and steady pace almost matching the legionaries of ancient Rome itself. All in this book is a decent beginning for a great story and a solid debut for a new author. It’s definitely going to be interesting to see how Robert develops over subsequent titles.

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