Title – The Siege (Agent of Rome #1)
Author – Nick Brown
Genre – Historical Fiction
Length – 390 Pages (Paperback)
Publication – 19th Jan 2012
My Rating – 5/5 Stars
270 AD. Rome has ruled Syria for more than 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. A young intelligence agent fresh from officer training, Cassius Corbulo 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 until reinforcements arrive. What Cassius finds at Alauran would daunt the most seasoned veteran, let alone a 19 year-old with no experience of war. A mere scattering of divided and demoralized 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 organize the garrison, save Alauran and secure Rome’s eastern frontier.
I was kindly gifted a copy of the book for review and I can honestly say I’m so pleased I was!
First off.. just look at the artwork on the cover. Without even reading the outline of the story I was already interested in getting to grips with this one.
The book follows Cassius Corbulo. He’s a member of the imperial security service and thinks he will most likely spend his days sitting behind a desk not really getting his hands dirty.. How wrong he is.
Corbulo is the most senior officer out in the Syrian Desert with the rank equivalent to Centurion. His orders are to head to Alauran a strategic position due to the water and food supplies held within.
Immediately he faces trouble. Not only is he fresh from training and a very young man but he’s part of the ISS.. How on earth will he get these men to follow his orders… simple he doesn’t tell them 🙂
These men are a disorganised bunch since their last Centurion died some time ago and letting them know he actually isn’t a Centurion would just make things worse.
Quickly we are introduced to some characters you know will play a big part in the story. I never like to spoil a story so I’ll leave it for you to read but Corbulo has his work cut out for him getting this bunch of soldiers ready and able.
Corbulo knows relief is on its way but he knows the Palmyrans could turn up at any moment and he needs to get the men prepared.
Now the book focuses a lot on the relationships between the men under Corbulo, it really is the meat of the book for me and it was great. You see the men grow to appreciate the order brought by having Corbulo in charge while still seeing the men as individuals rather than mindless drones. While getting to grips with the men we also hear about the Praetorian Guardsman who doesn’t seem like he’ll be helping with the defence of Alauran anytime soon. If only they could sober him up! Corbulo needs every man to fight!
From here the action switches from Corbulo’s point of the view to the Palmyrans. This broke up the book nicely for me but kept me reading as I needed to find out what happened next..
The Palmyrans are now advancing on Alauran. We see them lead attack after attack against our heros. Both sides suffer loss.. I myself was left with my month left open wide with some of the losses.
There is a lengthy build up to the final battle and for me the ending didn’t disappoint. I had high hopes for the ending and It didn’t play out exactly as I thought but the characters involved were there and that was exactly what I wanted to see.
I wouldn’t change a single thing with this book in all honesty; it was a cracking read and has left me wanting more. As it happens my birthday is this month so I’ve hinted to the family I want at least the next two books in the series 🙂
Everything about the book just worked for me, it was well written and Nick kept me reading even when I needed to go to sleep. The story never got dull in my eyes when it so easily could have. The best thing about this book has to be the characters. I hard story to give a bit of depth but it certainly thought they were brilliant and i’m excited for more from Nick.
Nick has just released book 5 in the series so I have some catching up to do but I’m looking forward to it.