Tag Archives: Rome

Retalio by Alison Morton – Review

Title – Retalio (Roma Nova #6)
Author – Alison Morton
Genre – Alternative History
My Rating – 5/5 Stars

Synopsis

“A classic tale of resistance and resilience – the only regret is when the action stops.” – Douglas Jackson Early 1980s Vienna. Recovering from a near fatal shooting, Aurelia Mitela, ex-Praetorian and former foreign minister of Roma Nova, chafes at her enforced exile. She barely escaped from her nemesis, the charming and amoral Caius Tellus who grabbed power in Roma Nova, the only part of the Roman Empire to survive into the twentieth century. Aurelia’s duty and passion fire her determination to take back her homeland and liberate its people. But Caius’s manipulations have isolated her from her fellow exiles, leaving her ostracised, powerless and vulnerable. But without their trust and support Aurelia knows she will never see Roma Nova again.

Review

We are back with Aurelia Mitela in a world where Rome didn’t fall completely and women have a much more prominent role in society. Not everyone is happy with this power divide..none more so than Caius Tellus.. a horrible worm of a man..

To truly understand the buildup to this novel you need to have read the previous two novels AURELIA and Insurrectio.

The government of Roma Nova has been overthrown and Aurelia is duty bound to help put things right..her people are being treated badly, many have died..and many more will. Caius will stop at nothing to have the power he craves even though the situation is highly volatile and he is slowly losing control.

It’s a fast paced novel full of action as the resistance fight back to take control of Roma Nova.

There’s some great twists as the resistance struggle to come together and trust each other..who wouldn’t have issues..after-all anyone could be working for Caius and one bad move could mean death for them all.

While this novel is a work of alternative history it feels quite real and plausible giving the very real political issues we are facing in the present day.

This series is all about ideals..knowing right from wrong and standing up to fight even when you know the cost may be too high.

A great addition to anyone’s library.

To find out more head to Goodreads or Amazon.

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Eagles of Dacia (Praetorian #3) by S.J.A. Turney – Review

Title – Eagles of Dacia (Praetorian #3)
Author – S.J.A. Turney
Genre – Historical Fiction
Length – 412 Pages
Publication – 16th November 2017
My Rating – 5/5 Stars

Synopsis

At the mercy of the scheming Imperial Chamberlain, Cleander, Rufinus is dispatched to Dacia, a land of untamed beauty at the edge of the Roman world, with orders to investigate the two legionary commanders there for signs of treason.

Uncertain what to expect from his mission, the two generals, or the land itself, Rufinus travels east with Senova and his faithful hound, Acheron. But machinations and skullduggery are afoot in Dacia, and the young praetorian is walking into the heart of empire-changing events.

As the generals Clodius Albinus and Pescennius Niger work to put the province right following recent invasions and revolts, Rufinus begins his investigation, suffering insubordinate soldiers, unseen attackers and dangerous locals.

At the edge of the world, Rufinus is about to stumble across a web that will put him in direct danger and threaten the empire to its core.

Welcome to Dacia.

Review

It’s a welcome return to the world of Rufinus. He’s had quite a wild ride hasn’t he so far. Well the great game continues and Rufinus is in for the toughest trial yet.

Cleander is powerful man and Rufinus just so happened to get on his bad side.. because of this he’s charges with a mission..the mission is basically just a way to keep Rufinus as far away from Rome as possible.

One lucky thing for our hero is he’s sent away with Senova his lover and Acheron his ever faithful hound. I still love Acheron..I always get excited when I see the name pop up as those scenes are the highlights of the story for me. Acheron steals the limelight at every turn.

Senova develops well in the book.. even Rufinus see changes in her and not all of them he likes. Being a freed slave there’s a stigma attached and Rufinus tries to shield her from this as much as he can but Senova only see’s this as Rufinus being embarrassed about her past.

Cleander sends Rufinus to Darcia to test the loyalties of the border legions and what is uncovered could blow the empire apart.

Enemies are everywhere and Rufinus finds himself stuck. Never quite sure who to trust and If you’ve read any of the authors work before you’ll already know Rufinus won’t get out of this without at least a few scars.

Along the way Senova is given a slave boy Luca who becomes much more to her than that and he was a great addition to the tale although it just gives Rufinus one more thing to worry about.

It’s difficult to put into word the epic life or death struggle Rufinus finds himself in as it would give too much away but some things I really enjoyed about the plot were the never-ending twists..nothing is ever simple and you really do get sucked in wondering if Rufinus will ever be able to get out of this with his head intact.

The Praetorian series is a brilliant adventure, each book links so well with the last but at the same time is completely new and fresh..it grows each time into a bigger adventure and I’m excited for more.

Overall I love the series, the plots are interesting and gripping. The writing flows well with a decent amount of time given to descriptive elements without it becoming boring or repetitive. The characters grow each time and I feel we see real changes in them as they develop as you would growing up naturally.

A great little series to get stuck into.

To find out more head to Goodreads or Amazon.

Otho’s Regret by L. J. Trafford – Review

Title – Otho’s Regret
Author – L. J. Trafford
Genre – Historical Fiction
Length – 469 Pages
Publication – 24th July 2017
My Rating – 5/5 Stars

Synopsis

Having spectacularly grabbed the Imperial throne by way of a very bloody coup, new emperor Otho is horrified to discover that there is an emperor already in place. His name is Aulus Vitellius and he is relaxing himself in Germania whilst his two generals, the twisted Valens and the handsome but dim Caecina, march two colossal armies to Rome to claim his prize.

With negotiations between the two emperors becoming ever more entertainingly abusive, imperial secretary Epaphroditus has his work cut out trying to save Otho’s throne for him. Hopelessly outnumbered, all looks doomed until a series of unexpected victories give hope to the beleaguered secretary. With the eastern legions declared for Otho and en route to help, all they have to do is stop Valens’ and Caecina’s armies meeting.

Meanwhile, in Rome, a former palace slave, Antonia Caenis, has returned from Judaea with plans of her own…

Review

Otho’s regret is the third book in The Four Emperors series.

You can read my reviews of book one and two by clicking the links below to open a new window.

Palatine- Book 1

Galba’s Men – Book 2

So after the events of the last book Otho is now emperor. Now while he doesn’t seem to be the most natural at the role he does ooze charisma, he’s fair and likeable which people notice.. the issue is he’s not going to get much of a chance to prove himself.

Persuaded by his generals Vitellius decides he should be Emperor and they set out to take the throne by force if needs be.

Vitellius and his generals have very different reasons for their actions and the author did a great job of breathing life into each of them and developing them as much as she did. The two generals Valens and Caecina have to be my favourite additions to the series so far.

With armies on the march espionage is inevitable with both sides planting spies..the fun twist is there’s more than just two players in this tale…someone is lurking..someone has their own motivations to delay Valens and Caecina but you are kept waiting and wodering as the author builds this suspense keeping you hooked until the end.

One person who has made this series stand out for me is Philo. He’s trying to move on with his life after everything has happened to him.. he’s a little out of the loop with events in the palace but soon gets sucked back in.. he even ends up playing his part in the war that is coming. I can honestly say I don’t think I’ll ever love a character as much as Philo.

Epaphroditus surprised me this time around. I never really fell in love with him until now.. this tale shows a different edge to the character which I really enjoyed.

Trafford effortlessly manages to make the tale light-hearted and fun (especially when Sporus is around) but at the same time develops the uncertainty and fears that are brewing.. Building the suspense so much your heart pounds until everything starts to tumble-down around Otho.

I’ve had high expectations with The Four Emperors series which continues to deliver time and time again. It ticks all the right boxes for historical fiction. It’s descriptive but never too heavy, fun when needed but still deals with the serious side of events.

What Trafford has done superbly is make history fun and exciting with the perfect mix of fact and fiction. It’s books like this that keep my love of reading burning strongly, always stoking the furnace..pushing me further, raising that bar which each installment.

I can’t say I’m an expert.. I just know what I like.. and this book is a shining example of what a 5* star historical fiction book should be in my opinion.

My thanks go to Karnac Books for the uncorrected proof copy for review..This will have pride of place on my book shelf.

You can read more reviews on Goodreads and pre-order your copy of the book today on Amazon or purhcase direct from the publishers Karnac

Galba’s Men by L. J. Trafford – Review

Title – Galba’s Men – The Four Emperors Series: Book II
Author – L. J. Trafford
Genre –  Historical Fiction
Length –     431 Pages
My Rating – 5/5 Stars

Synopsis                 

Rome 68 AD. Slaughtering hundreds of civilians at the gates of Rome is hardly the best introduction for new Emperor Galba to his city. However the aged ruler is determined to get on with clearing up the mess Nero left. Assisting him are his three men: Vinius, Laco and Icelus. Also in his entourage one Marcus Salvius Otho. Jovial, charming and fatally reckless Otho is armed with a killer idea: Wouldn’t it be marvellous if the childless Galba adopted him as his heir? Appointing old pal Epaphroditus as his campaign manager, Otho sets about winning hearts and minds in his own unique cheery way. For Epaphroditus it is a harmless way of enlivening his post Nero retirement; either Galba makes Otho his heir, or he doesn’t. What could possibly go wrong? For once the former Palace manipulator has fatally miscalculated. These are paranoid times and Otho’s ‘harmless’ plan is about to bring Rome to its knees.

Review

So this book follows directly on from Palatine the first book in The Four Emperors Series by L. J. Trafford. If you haven’t read the first book I highly recommend you do as this is a brilliant tale which deserves to be read.

This book is based on events around 68/69 AD when Galba succeeded Nero as emperor of Rome. Albeit for a very short time

L. J. Trafford manages to give us real facts about the events but also has fictional side stories to keep you engaged and it’s this mix that makes this series so interesting

Galba arrives in Rome and it quickly becomes apparent he’s not going to make any friends. His reign only lasted 7 months so it’s clear he wasn’t well liked and the way L. J. Trafford portrays him fits with this image

Reading about Galba’s downfall was very gripping but was outshined by one character as with the first instalment.. Philo! The author continues his tale of woe at the hands of Straton just when he hopes his life is on the up. There is so much development for this character during this tale and I think it helped that Galba’s reign was short as it left time in this novel to develop characters like Philo but also Alex, Mina, Sporus & Straton. They all have their part in this story no matter how little.

With so many good characters to use the author had no trouble switching perspectives to allow other’s tales to continue and it was this back and forth that made it all the more gripping as you never had the chance to get bored of a character and you just had to get back to them to see what happened next.

Essentially the end of this book is a repeat of the first instalment.. the emperor is overthrown and it’s bloody, but the author still managed to make the tale fresh and interesting as the build-up is very different and Nero and Galba couldn’t be more different if they tried.

Added shock factor was introduced when the author killed off a few characters. I won’t spoil it by saying who but I did make a little note with a sad face each times.

I think the best thing about L.J. Trafford’s work is how seamlessly she can fit real facts and fiction together so neatly.. nothing feels out of place at all.

We were also introduced to some new characters in this novel. My favourite being Otho who came across as a happy go lucky kind of guy who does things on a whim which is dangerous but very entertaining..his tale will continue in the next book in the series.. I can’t wait for that!

For me this is a shining example of what historical fiction is for me..and I couldn’t fault it. This was my most anticipated book this year and it’s definitely been my favourite read so far.

To me, these are the kinds of tales that make reading as fun as it is.

I’ve already said this but I think it deserves to be brought up again.. Philo.. he outshines this whole series for me and I could read anything with him in it. Such a good character and I hope we see more of him.

Anyone who likes the genre or wants to get into the genre will enjoy this book, great mix of humour, love and death and a perfect blend of characters you’ll love

My thanks go to the author and Karnac Books for the review copy.

If you’d like to buy the book but haven’t read the first installment head to Karnac Books who have a great offer on where you can buy this book and get book 1 at half price.

To find out more head to Goodreads, Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Author Spotlight – Gordon Doherty

Gordon Doherty is the second author in my spotlight feature.

I’d like to take the time to highlight his work and give you a little insight into why I think his books are so great!

I’m a big fan of historical fiction and while i was looking into books to purchase Amazon kept showing his books in my recommend list.. I thought to myself what the hell.. why not…I’ll buy one of his books.. and I’ve read a further four since leaving only two to read which i’m planning to get through in the next couple of months.

Gordon has wrote two series so far. His Legionary series is by far the one the best I’ve ever read! and I’ve recently been introduced to his Strategos series which has surpassed all expectations

His Legionary series focuses mainly on the character of Pavo and the border legions of the Roman empire. I’m never one to spoil a plot but the tale Gordon weaves is a masterpiece. He manages to mix a great story with his impressive knowledge of the Roman Empire. He really makes you feel for the characters in this series. I’d even bought the next two books in the series before i’d even finished the first book as i was hooked straight away.

The Strategos series is of the same high standard and focuses on the brilliant character of Apion and the Byzantine Empire. Gordon handled this series a little different to the legionary series. It felt darker. I’ve read the first two books in the series so far and i really can’t wait to get on to the third book.

The main thing i like about his stories is the time he takes to develop not only the main character but also the supporting characters. The friendships he builds up are believable and you’re left wanting more every time you finish a book

If you’ve not read any of his books please do check out some reviews. I promise you’ll not be disappointed if you buy these books. The Kindle editions are all up on Amazon for the bargain price of £1.99 each currently so don’t miss out

Check out my reviews for Strategos: Born in the Borderlands & Strategos: Rise of the Golden Heart

Want to connect with Gordon? You can do so via his website Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads or his Amazon author page.

The Eagle’s Shadow by Keith Nixon – Review

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Title – The Eagle’s Shadow
Author – Keith Nixon
Genre – Historical Fiction
Publication – 8th June 2014
My Rating – 5/5

Synopsis

One man stands against the might of the Roman Empire. His name is Caradoc.

In Rome a new Emperor, Claudius, accedes the throne. But he is politically weak, enemies who would take his place circle and plot. If he is to survive Claudius needs a triumph, one that marks him as a leader of men.

Claudius’s eye turns to the mysterious isle of Britannia, home of the supernatural Druids and brutal, wild-eyed warriors, reputed to fight naked. The place not even Julius Caesar could conquer.

AD43 and a massive invasion force, commanded by Aulus Plautius, lands on a tiny corner of Britannia. Caradoc, King of the country’s most powerful tribe, assembles an army to throw his enemy back over the water and into Gaul.

But divisions are rife and there are those who are secretly working with the Romans for their own benefit. The very future of the country is at risk and only one man can safeguard it…

Review

This book is a fast paced, epic war story and boy did I enjoy it.

First of there is a lot of information in this book but Keith very handily added a section at the beginning of the book to explain the names used within the book since place names have changed over the years along with rivers etc. This was not only useful so I could set the scene but it was also very interesting information

We find ourselves thrust into time when Rome was planning to invade Britain and the author decided to tell his tale from both the Roman and the Britons view point. This gave a great feel to the book and broke up the action perfectly so you kept reading without even noticing the time pass.

Keith has picked a very interesting subject for the book and built on this story with the characters. There are a few I liked a lot.. Fionn & Etain stood out for me.  The action with Fionn had me hooked!

There are a large number of characters in this book; Because of this some don’t get a chance to develop. Once you read the book you can totally understand why though as there so much going on in the book it would be too much to squeeze in and also the story is so strong and violent it’s inevitable some of these characters will die

The author goes into some great detail describing the warfare tactics and clearly has researched well.

I felt the story easily pulled me in and I even found myself shouting in my head “Move, Move” when it came to clashes between the two armies.

One of the most interesting parts of this book for me was the relationships between the tribes in Britain at the time. I won’t spoil the book for you but these relationships coupled with the unified force of the Romans made for an epic tale

From reading the authors historical notes he gives a great insight into some of the characters and the time period and it’s definitely peaked my interest and made me want to read up on this time period.

I’m very pleased to see there is a follow up book and I’m looking forward to reading/reviewing that soon

Conclusion… Do I think this book is worth the 99p asking price currently on Amazon? Hell yes!

If you enjoy tales involving warfare, blood, guts, tension, betrayal then you will certainly like this book

To find out more about this book head to Goodreads, Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com