Friday, 22 July 2011

HISTORICAL FICTION REVIEW: Agent of Rome 1: The Siege - Nick Brown

Release Date: 21/07/11


270 AD Rome has ruled Syria for over three centuries. But now the weakened empire faces a desperate threat: Queen Zenobia of Palmyra has turned her Roman-trained army against her former masters and the once invincible legions have been crushed. Arabia, Palestine and Egypt have fallen and now Antioch, Syria's capital, stands exposed. Cassius Corbulo is a young intelligence agent fresh from officer training. He has been assigned the menial task of rounding up wounded legionaries but then urgent new orders arrive. He is the only ranking Roman officer left in the line of the Palmyran advance. He must take command of the fort of Alauran, the last stronghold still in Roman hands, and hold it against the enemy until reinforcements arrive. What Cassius finds at Alauran would daunt the most seasoned veteran, let alone a nineteen year old with no experience of war. A mere scattering of divided and demoralised legionaries remain, backed up by some fractious Syrian auxiliaries and a drunken Praetorian Guardsman. With the Palmyrans just days away, Cassius must somehow find the discipline, resourcefulness and courage to organise the garrison, save Alauran and secure Rome's eastern frontier...


The Roman Army has trampled its way through a good few authors minds and ended up on modern bookshelves with the resulting battles not just between them and their foes but between the lead characters and the author. Whilst many struggle to keep the hugeness of the task to their will, some have successfully made the Roman period their own, names like Simon Scarrow, Ben Kane, Anthony Riches and Lindsey Davis.

To this already auspicious company, a new name is being whispered within the ranks as his march towards his release date nears. That is Nick Brown, who with his debut novel creates a battle that’s not only memorable but also a Roman Roukes Drift. It has great characterisation, solid prose and a good sense of pace. Add to this almost cinematic sequences and it was a title that I was not only glued to but one that gave me the type of sword and sandals novel I love. All in a great debut and one that I’m going to be demanding that the senate rewards with its own triumph. Congrats on a novel well written Nick.

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