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Tribune of Rome

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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 b 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. But even here there is no escaping the politics of Rome. 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...

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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 b 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. But even here there is no escaping the politics of Rome. 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...

30 review for Tribune of Rome

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jeffrey Keeten

    ”When a man sees Rome for the first time and feels her power and his own insignificance in the face of it, he realises that he has but two choices: serve her or perish under her, for there is no ignoring her.” Vespasian is not Vespasian, as of yet. He is sixteen years old and helping to manage his father’s estate in Aquate Cutillae. His brother has recently returned from service in the legions, and their old rivalry and jealous animosity towards each other has not cooled with a four year absence ”When a man sees Rome for the first time and feels her power and his own insignificance in the face of it, he realises that he has but two choices: serve her or perish under her, for there is no ignoring her.” Vespasian is not Vespasian, as of yet. He is sixteen years old and helping to manage his father’s estate in Aquate Cutillae. His brother has recently returned from service in the legions, and their old rivalry and jealous animosity towards each other has not cooled with a four year absence from one another. They are under orders to teach each other what they have learned. For Vespasian, that is teaching Sabinus how to run an estate. For Sabinus, it is to teach Vespasian how to be a legionnaire. I really enjoy the detail that Robert Fabbri gives the reader about how a Roman estate in 26 AD was managed. To add some spice, he also has a scene where the brothers have to work together to hunt down some thieves. When the family visits Rome to secure Vespasian his own place in the military, they become somewhat unwilling allies of Antonia, the mother of Germanicus and the grandmother of Caligula. She is trying to stifle the growing power of Sejanus, the leader of the Praetorian Guard, who is taking full advantage of Emperor Tiberius’s self imposed exile in Capri to position himself for a bold political move. For all intents and purposes, with Tiberius gone, he is emperor of Rome. Why not make it official? To further annoy Antonia, Sejanus is carrying on a dalliance with her estranged daughter Livilla. If he can convince Tiberius to let him marry her, he will have at least a tenuous leg to stand on for taking permanent control of Rome. The stealthy sound of sandals in the corridors adds layers of intrigue, and the cloying smell of deceit comes wafting off the pages of this book like a sputtering wick in an olive oil lamp. Germanicus was the great hope of the family. He was everything they could want a future emperor to be. He was brave; he was kind, and he was empathetic to the trials and tribulations of the common man. The rumors say he was poisoned. He was one of those what-if moments in history. If he had become emperor, would the course of Roman history have veered away from the collision course with its own destruction? Would his son Caligula have grown up to be someone more like his father and less like the psychopath he became? One of my favorite what-ifs surrounds Rudolf Crown Prince of Austria-Hungary. He “committed suicide” in 1889, though there are speculations that the Germans had him murdered and made it look like suicide. If he had lived, Franz Ferdinand would have never been the heir apparent of the Austrian-Hungarian throne. Would World War One have never happened? Or been postponed? Or would Rudolf have been the one assassinated? How about one more? What if Arthur, Prince of Wales, had lived? The son of Henry VII who was actually trained to be king. Would we have been spared the odious Henry VIII? Would the religious turmoil of Henry’s quest for a male heir have been avoided? A King Arthur on the throne of England? It is but a name, but does the name infuse the man with the desire to be magnificent? There are holes left in history by the untimely death of certain individuals, and Germanicus is one of those losses that make amateur historians, like myself, wonder...what if? Antonia feels strongly a sense of responsibility to the empire and her family to keep Sejanus from marrying her daughter and from achieving the power he craves. She sees the young brothers of Vespasian and Sabinus as useful allies in her battle with Sejanus. Soon Vespasian is fleeing the city, after a rather nerve wracking tangle with Sejanus’s men, to join his legion on the Balkan frontier. As dangerous as Rome is for him, the Thracians might prove to be even more detrimental to his health. Fabbri writes this amazingly well drawn battle scene where we find the Romans trapped on the wrong side of a river. They are desperately trying to cross this swiftly flowing river while holding off the Thracians. Battle scenes are very difficult to write, and there aren’t many who can write them better than Bernard Cornwell, but Fabbri delivers a Cornwellian scene that had me on the edge of my seat. ”A hundred paces away, just visible as darker shadows against the lighter fire-flecked background, the Thracians let out a soul-shivering howl and stampeded towards the Romans. A new series of lightning flashes revealed them brandishing rhomphaiai, spears and javelins wildly above their heads, splashing through the pools of water and mud that caused many of their number to lose their footing and disappear beneath the tide of trampling boots surging after them. “ Can you imagine, with your back against a raging river, seeing this horde coming at you, screaming and yelling? Think about the thundering of their feet that would be vibrating the earth beneath you. It loosens my bowels, and I’m not even there. The intrigue from Rome follows Vespasian out to the frontier as he tries to ascertain who is behind the chests of money that are buying the unrest against the Romans. He is a mere lad of 16, but he will have to do the job of a man if he is going to survive to become the first Emperor of Rome to come from the equestrian ranks. You will be wondering how he will ever live long enough to make the prophecies at his birth come true. If you wish to see more of my most recent book and movie reviews, visit http://www.jeffreykeeten.com I also have a Facebook blogger page at:https://www.facebook.com/JeffreyKeeten

  2. 4 out of 5

    Andy

    The start of a Rome series to run alongside my Macro/Cato (Simon Scarrow) adventures as I’m looking for something a little more serious in it’s nature/storytelling plus Macro/Cato is almost caught up. Having tried a few series, which all ended as non-starters for me for a multitude of reasons – wrong humour, not enough about the legions or the main focus was that of a historical mystery........ it was after much weighing up that I finally plumped for Robert Fabbri over Anthony Riches wanting a ta The start of a Rome series to run alongside my Macro/Cato (Simon Scarrow) adventures as I’m looking for something a little more serious in it’s nature/storytelling plus Macro/Cato is almost caught up. Having tried a few series, which all ended as non-starters for me for a multitude of reasons – wrong humour, not enough about the legions or the main focus was that of a historical mystery........ it was after much weighing up that I finally plumped for Robert Fabbri over Anthony Riches wanting a tale mainly revolving around the Legions & the politics of Rome. And this first book in the series works for me....... The politics & machinations of Rome are covered as are the rural/equestrian life in the countryside & you feel immersed in both the squalor & splendour of Rome itself during the early part of the tale. Our story revolves around an equestrian family & there seeking advancement for their two sons as any good Roman family of the day would do. With advancement though comes the predicament of painting a target on your back as the politics of the day was very cutthroat to say the least & by advancing yerself you only became a rival for many seeking similar status. This is how our story unfolds & enjoyable it is. The younger brother Vespasian has the touch of Cato (Simon Scarrow fame) about him so far, naive & morally incorruptible whilst his older brother Sabinus smacks of Macro, a bit rough around the edges but it’s all good & the support characters/back-stories are fleshed out as we go, all believable in the context given even if one or two villains/rogues seem a little stereotypical..... go with the flow I say it’s all good. There was one horrible moment in the story where the phrase “Jolly Caper” reared it’s head which dismayed me as I thought I had another Marius Mules series on my hands with its 1950’s Ealing comedy....... It was but a passing ship & fitted well with the trait of the character who uttered it! Although at first it appears a very (maybe too) family friendly read in tone & language the anti is ramped up when the politics/scheming comes to the fore as well as the work of the legions & the story telling transforms accordingly with some well told battle scenes & skulduggery, making the equilibrium of the story spot-on for me. I think (I hope) i’ve finally found a series to follow which has been much harder than I would have thought! As it’s the first in the series & a debut I’d give it 4.5 stars rounded upto 5 stars. One small heads-up wrt spoilers, don’t read the author’s notes at the back as he gives the actual historical details of those involved, which is fine but he takes them past the ending date in the book.....

  3. 5 out of 5

    Mr. Matt

    All power in the Empire derives from the Legions. (The man with 10,000 legionaries at his back has a pretty strong argument that he should be Emperor!) To check the power of successful generals, the Praetorian Guard was organized to serve directly underneath the Emperor, serving in Rome. But what happens when there is a plot against the aging Emperor Tiberius by an ambitious prefect? And what if a rebellion in Thrace keeps the legions busy? And what if stolen silver from the Imperial treasury fu All power in the Empire derives from the Legions. (The man with 10,000 legionaries at his back has a pretty strong argument that he should be Emperor!) To check the power of successful generals, the Praetorian Guard was organized to serve directly underneath the Emperor, serving in Rome. But what happens when there is a plot against the aging Emperor Tiberius by an ambitious prefect? And what if a rebellion in Thrace keeps the legions busy? And what if stolen silver from the Imperial treasury fuels that rebellion? I can't believe that I left this book on my to-read list for so long. Tribune of Rome is a perfect example of why I love historical fiction set in the time of Rome. And it is within this cauldron of boiling ambitions and rivalries, that a young, earnest and ambitious young man, Titus Flavius Vespasianus (Vespasian) arrives in Rome. Under Rome's elaborate system of patronage, his family quickly becomes involved in the intrigue between the most powerful woman in Rome and Sejanus, the prefect of the Praetorian Guard. The last few sentences say so much but leave out so much of the good stuff as well. There is a flight through the worst of the city. There is a cloak and dagger rescue attempt that involves breaking into a dungeon in Sejanus' estates. There is a manhunt by the Urban Cohort and the Praetorian Guard and a desperate flight from the city. There is an ambush by a Thracian army. There is an epic battle against rebels in distant Thrace. And all of this derives from a subtle plot to steal the Imperial purple. Throughout all of this, Vespasian emerges and grows. He quickly morphs from a young man who simply wanted to stay in the provinces managing his family estates, to a young Tribune who learns hard lessons on what it means to live and excel within the take-no-prisoners contest he is locked. And yet, unlike many books where the main character seems almost super-human, Vespasian is human. He falls in love with a slave girl. And it is not corny or overdone. It feels "right." It works. All of this doesn't even touch on the supporting characters. His brother, Titus Flavius Sabinus, morphs from a childhood bully to a confidant and ally of Vespasian reflects, I think, the natural evolution of two brother's relationship with one another. Marcus Salvius Magnus, Patron of the Crossroads Brotherhood, is a former legionnaire turned neighborhood strongman in service of Vespasian's patron. He makes the escape with the young Tribune, keeping him out of harm's way and joining Vespasian in Thrace. He is a humorous, and strong addition to the story. And all of the above doesn't even touch the best part of Roman historical fiction - epic battles between the outnumbered, but steady and disciplined Romans and hordes of savage barbarians. Invariably, the steady resolve and hard drilled tactics win the day, but it is still great fun to read. Fabbri does a good job of describing the tactics and making the reader feel like they are standing just to the right or left of young Vespasian. Finally, throughout the entire story, I was kept on my toes by surprising twists and turns. Strings that were introduced early come back later to have great significance. And none of these twists or surprises felt forced. At no time (well, maybe kinda-sorta once) did I feel like the author had to intervene to save the main characters. IV stars out of V. Ramped back down to IV stars from IV and I/II after some additional thought. Regardless, very enjoyable historical fiction set in the Early Empire period. Great stuff.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Iset

    I have to say straight off the bat that this book surprised me. Halfway through the book I was convinced this was a rollicking Roman adventure novel – secret agents, schemes, the odd fight and escape – all good fun but nothing I hadn’t seen before. And I was enjoying it, although Vespasian’s youthful naivety was just a touch grating. Then the book surprised me by turning around and pulling out a serious military novel instead. Vespasian grows up, and becomes a lot more likable and decisive in th I have to say straight off the bat that this book surprised me. Halfway through the book I was convinced this was a rollicking Roman adventure novel – secret agents, schemes, the odd fight and escape – all good fun but nothing I hadn’t seen before. And I was enjoying it, although Vespasian’s youthful naivety was just a touch grating. Then the book surprised me by turning around and pulling out a serious military novel instead. Vespasian grows up, and becomes a lot more likable and decisive in the process, and I took it seriously despite the fact that he was still by age a youth. The scope of the book feels like it widens, and the situations Vespasian finds himself in suddenly seem completely serious; fighting in battles, negotiating a way out of very difficult strategic positions, deep in hostile territory. The tension was really ratcheted up a notch and, I must say, so was the final rating I decided to give the book. The battles were really well described and realised, I have to say. Battles can be difficult things to write. Often chaotic, bloody messes, it can be tough to know what to write to make them in any way intelligible or follow a coherent sequence of events, and to avoid simply getting bogged down in hack and slash action scenes without any idea of how to resolve the battle. Some authors will avoiding writing battle scenes entirely, and who can blame them when it’s such a tricky task? Thankfully Robert Fabbri does know how to write battles, meaning not only are we treated to these scenes in their entirety, but also they’re totally coherent and intelligible. I never once got lost or confused reading those scenes, and enjoyed following their twists and turns. It’s quite obvious that Fabbri understands military strategy and tactics, and this I’m grateful for. Even when there are no battles going on, there’s always something happening. Every chapter progresses the plot and has something interesting going on to keep me reading. I stand by my assessment of the book as “moreish”. A mention of Fabbri’s author’s note; he does include one, and it’s comprehensive about factual changes, which I appreciate. The biggest changes are Vespasian’s date of arrival in Thrace (it would seem he actually arrived in the aftermath of the action), and Poppaeus’ integrity of character. Whilst the historian part of me can’t help wishing for closer accuracy, I have to take the author’s point; without these two changes it’s difficult to see a compelling story. Vespasian’s early years would seem to be less eventful and story-worthy than with the changes in place. They’re done well, and feel seamless in the text, so credit to the author for that. The character stuff is, for the most part, done well also. There are some big characters here, from all sorts of backgrounds; Antonia, Gaius, Asinius, Tertulla, Corbulo – even bit parts like Tryphaena, and Sejanus who looms large over the entire tale even though he’s never seen. They were all unique and very much their own forceful, distinct personalities. I say mostly well done – I did laugh at Vespasian and Caenis professing some sort of deep love and expecting it to last over the next four years, after an acquaintance of a few weeks during which they never really had time to talk to each other or get to know each other, and both being just 16 thereabouts. But then, that’s not so much poor writing – it isn’t implausible, after all, how many of us as teenagers thought we were in love with someone? – it’s just that with the benefit of experience I found it difficult to empathise with or root for their relationship. Of course, history proves me wrong, but where and when they met is unknown. So why not a higher rating? Two reasons. First, the language lacks that certain flair and style that really sweeps me off into a story so that I get lost in it and hours pass without notice. Fabbri’s writing style is skilled, judicious, and lucid – all of which drive a very good, compelling, and coherent plot. But it lacks a certain inventiveness, a certain evocativeness, which I look for in books that go above and beyond. To be fair, that may simply be a consequence of the genre; the Roman adventure/military novel is a genre that lends itself to a more direct, punchy, functional writing style. Second, the book failed to move me or to get me thinking; I didn’t get emotionally drawn in, nor did my brain reel from any revelations. This, along with creative flair, is something I would more expect to see in the epic historical fiction genre, which is why I’m more of a fan of that sub-genre than I am of the adventure/military sub-genre in historical fiction. But I still believe that those two qualities aren’t exclusive to the epic, and am looking for any book that stands out and can really draw me in; those are the stories that make it into my cream of the crop circle. Returning to the book at hand however, Fabbri’s got a darn good book here, and I must admit I am intrigued to see where the rest of the series would take and develop Vespasian. Definitely a book I would recommend. 8 out of 10

  5. 5 out of 5

    S.J.A. Turney

    To be honest, despite having a list of books to read that's a mile long, I bought this largely on the strength of the title, Vespasian being one of my favourite historical figures. I'd not even read the blurb before I bought it and started reading. I was therefore surprised and a little disappointed to discover as I read that this is a tale of the early days of the great man, long before the great events for which he's remembered. Any negativity I felt was banished in short order. The book is simp To be honest, despite having a list of books to read that's a mile long, I bought this largely on the strength of the title, Vespasian being one of my favourite historical figures. I'd not even read the blurb before I bought it and started reading. I was therefore surprised and a little disappointed to discover as I read that this is a tale of the early days of the great man, long before the great events for which he's remembered. Any negativity I felt was banished in short order. The book is simply marvellous and the tale gripping and wholly realistic, being solidly rooted in historical events regardless of its fictional nature. The book is split into several parts and has something for everyone, from early farm-based childhood rivalries, through adolescence and intrigue in Rome, danger, flight and mystery, right to a full-scale military campaign with all the great detail an excitement to match any of the other great Roman fiction writers out there. The great strength of Fabbri to me, though, is his characterisations. Vespasian is exactly how I would imagine a young version of the great man. The interplay between his family, particularly his grandmother and her chief slave, is charming to read. The highlight in characters for me, though, is Magnus. I really look forward to the next Vespasian book and cannot recommend this highly enough to a fan of Roman fiction. Buy it. Read it. Love it.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Fiona

    3.5 stars. I was heading for 4 stars when I read the author's note at the end and discovered that only the bare bones of the story bear any truth. I found that disappointing as I read historical fiction partly because it's an enjoyable way to learn history. There's a fine line between dramatic licence and dispensing with the truth altogether, eg Vespasian did not arrive in Thrace until months after the rebellion and so did not participate in it which means that the final third of the book is com 3.5 stars. I was heading for 4 stars when I read the author's note at the end and discovered that only the bare bones of the story bear any truth. I found that disappointing as I read historical fiction partly because it's an enjoyable way to learn history. There's a fine line between dramatic licence and dispensing with the truth altogether, eg Vespasian did not arrive in Thrace until months after the rebellion and so did not participate in it which means that the final third of the book is completely fictional in terms of Vespasian's life. I enjoyed this as a work of fiction and found some of it quite exciting. I've added the rest of the series to my to read list but whether I'll actually read more is debatable at the moment, or at least while I'm still in the huff with the author!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Deborah Pickstone

    4.5 stars I suspect Fabbri will become a favourite author. This is an excellent, well-costructed novel. Fast paced and endlessly interesting, Fabbri keeps the reader guessing by giving unexpected twists to the expected outcome of various situations. He thinks ahead (which is a quality I would think he himself admires, from the story), making this a well-plotted story. The characterisation is excellent - though, really, Vespasian is a historical character who is so very perfect as a central charac 4.5 stars I suspect Fabbri will become a favourite author. This is an excellent, well-costructed novel. Fast paced and endlessly interesting, Fabbri keeps the reader guessing by giving unexpected twists to the expected outcome of various situations. He thinks ahead (which is a quality I would think he himself admires, from the story), making this a well-plotted story. The characterisation is excellent - though, really, Vespasian is a historical character who is so very perfect as a central character and made it into Simon Scarrow's Cato and Macro series as a well-drawn secondary character. Vespasian was a well-loved Emperor, considered the Soldiers' Emperor not because they put him on the throne but because they loved him. I see other reviews criticising Fabbri for knowing too much history and telling us he knows; I have no problem with his explanations. I also see criticism for the modern language used by characters. Perhaps he should have written it in Latin? :P I will most certainly be reading the rest of the series and Fabbri seems to be good for a book a year, thankfully! :)

  8. 4 out of 5

    Malacima

    For the whole series I would give 3.5 -4 stars. Quite a nice read...enjoyed historical side. Some sequels are better and some are not. It's well-written with believable human characters and historical events. The books are includes some engaging moments,but something is missing... Somehow it just doesn't have some adrenaline (regardless of all the battles and various intrigues).... lacking in excitement for me . Sometimes I thought it was written from the perspective of a modern man.They seem to For the whole series I would give 3.5 -4 stars. Quite a nice read...enjoyed historical side. Some sequels are better and some are not. It's well-written with believable human characters and historical events. The books are includes some engaging moments,but something is missing... Somehow it just doesn't have some adrenaline (regardless of all the battles and various intrigues).... lacking in excitement for me . Sometimes I thought it was written from the perspective of a modern man.They seem to talk in a slang that is more appropriate to our era than ancient Rome. I found the chemistry between Vespasian and Magnus humorous. But Vespasian's relationship with Caenis is completely neglected ( which is unjust- since she was a mistress for over 20 years- Caenis remained memorable in historical documents and was probably a very important person in his life) and unrealistic (literally-after the second meeting she told him 'I love you'and end up in bed). Unfortunately in all of the books continued so...Steamy scenes are poorly developed. The author should work on them a little more. All in all, a decent start. For historical fiction fans, a good read!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Gordon Doherty

    A very good read this. The author clearly has a genuine love of the historical setting and this shone through in some of the detail. The narrative was smooth and the characters likeable and I found the chemistry between Vespasian and Magnus humorous and memorable. There were some issues with flat dialogue early on, where a lot of backstory seemed to be conveyed through unrealistic sounding conversations, but overall this was a tiny blip on an enjoyable journey. Well worth a read for hist fic fan A very good read this. The author clearly has a genuine love of the historical setting and this shone through in some of the detail. The narrative was smooth and the characters likeable and I found the chemistry between Vespasian and Magnus humorous and memorable. There were some issues with flat dialogue early on, where a lot of backstory seemed to be conveyed through unrealistic sounding conversations, but overall this was a tiny blip on an enjoyable journey. Well worth a read for hist fic fans

  10. 4 out of 5

    Beorn

    An invigorating, evocative read speculating on the formative years of the titular character whose ascendancy would see him reach the pinnacle of society to become emperor. Even the casual reader will find themselves running headlong through the detailed action, endeared to the believable and realistic characters. The battle scenes aren't quite as absorbing as authors like Douglas Jackson but they are still convincing, and well written enough to be on a par with Ben Kane and Anthony Riches. Overall An invigorating, evocative read speculating on the formative years of the titular character whose ascendancy would see him reach the pinnacle of society to become emperor. Even the casual reader will find themselves running headlong through the detailed action, endeared to the believable and realistic characters. The battle scenes aren't quite as absorbing as authors like Douglas Jackson but they are still convincing, and well written enough to be on a par with Ben Kane and Anthony Riches. Overall this is a good solid opener to what promises to be a cracking series.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Speesh

    I think I must have read most of the current 'big guns' (or should that be 'big ballistae'?) of modern Roman Historical Fiction. I usually try and read one or two of other genres, or at least periods, inbetween, just because I'm afraid of them all blurring into one if I don’t. Until this book, Robert Fabbri was a new, sometimes difficult to spell correctly, name to me. Afterwards, and I’m really glad I made the effort to get hold of 'Vespasian', as I found it a thoroughly enjoyable, well-written I think I must have read most of the current 'big guns' (or should that be 'big ballistae'?) of modern Roman Historical Fiction. I usually try and read one or two of other genres, or at least periods, inbetween, just because I'm afraid of them all blurring into one if I don’t. Until this book, Robert Fabbri was a new, sometimes difficult to spell correctly, name to me. Afterwards, and I’m really glad I made the effort to get hold of 'Vespasian', as I found it a thoroughly enjoyable, well-written and rewarding read. We’re back in the first Century AD. This time, in the area of countryside around Rome. Vespasian is 16 and is living on the family farm with his mother and father. His ambitious mother and father. They mean well, I suppose, his mum and dad...though they are mainly ambitious that Vespasian and his brother do well, for the sake of the family and the family name. Vespasian’s elder brother Sabinus, has just returned home from his first period away with the army. Vespasian has been running the family estates, and is actually quite good at it. However, Mum and Dad have other plans for Vespasian. He must do his bit for the advancement of the family fortunes and so his next rung on the Roman social ladder, is that he too must join the army. So, the 16-year old Vespasian journeys with his brother to the big city (not many bigger at the time, of course), to the centre of the world, to Rome. Here, Vespasian and his brother are to seek help with their advancement from their uncle. They also get valuable lessons in how to (hopefully) avoid the many pitfalls involved with said advancement in Roman social society. Luckily for me - as endless backstabbing and double-dealing Roman-style talking usually sends me walking…not everything goes according to plan. Vespasian soon finds himself, mostly unknowingly, caught up in someone called Sejanus’ machinations in trying to depose the ageing Emperor Tiberius. Vespasian has to get the hell out of Dodge and past the Praetorian Guards, in something of a hurry. He finds an escape route, by taking up a relatively (hopefully) obscure position as Tribune somewhere out on Rome’s Balkan frontier. But troubles find him even out there. Though they are at least troubles of the sort - attacks from local tribesmen, presumably not too keen on being another Roman frontier province - that can be solved more easily with a sword and a shield. A kind of problem solving Vespasian, (still only 16, I checked) is showing he has both the aptitude - and sometimes surprising for a 16-year old - the strength, for. In the meantime, he has of course, being 16 and a riot of Roman hormones - some things don’t change - has fallen in love. With the ‘wrong’ girl. With a slave girl. Fortunately later on, she might actually be the right girl, when…well, you’ll have to buy the book(s) to find out. ‘Vespasian’ (the book) I found inviting, informative and thrilling. Often all at the same time. Vespasian (the character) I thought was sympathetic, understandable and therefore believable. I also found Robert Fabbris style of writing very accessible, with the relevant nuggets of Roman information needed for full appreciation of the background to Vespasian’s situation, Roman society of the time on the whole, really well handled. Presented in a much more natural, and lighter, way than some writers. Prof H. Sidebottom, is an example that springs naturally to mind. Not as in your face, as H. Sidebottom can often be. Reading his last one, I felt like I hadn’t done my homework properly. Robert Fabbri’s way of writing seems a more flowing, natural style and lets the story work without it stopping and starting and where were we now before I had to try and pronounce/try and understand that/yet another difficult Latin word? I actually found myself enjoying how Robert Fabbri writes about the Roman social scene and the myriad of potential pitfalls they seem to have had waiting for them on their way to the top. I didn’t think I liked that sort of thing, but in Robert Fabbri’s hands, it feels fresh and interesting. As a whole, I thought ‘Vespasian’ was well planned and executed, a nuanced picture of a Roman going places, interestingly informative without ever being over powering and above all, very readable. ‘Vespasian' looks like the start of an engaging, convincing and well worth following all the way, Roman saga.

  12. 4 out of 5

    John Salter

    This is the debut novel of Robert Fabbri, the first book about the life of Vespasian who was eventually involved in the invasion of Britain in AD43 and who later went onto to become Emperor. The book starts with his birth where sacrifices are made and great things are foreseen about the forthcoming life of the young man. The story then jumps to a fifteen year old youngster who is intent on looking after his parents farm and lands from raiders. Robert Fabbri manages to create a great atmosphere su This is the debut novel of Robert Fabbri, the first book about the life of Vespasian who was eventually involved in the invasion of Britain in AD43 and who later went onto to become Emperor. The book starts with his birth where sacrifices are made and great things are foreseen about the forthcoming life of the young man. The story then jumps to a fifteen year old youngster who is intent on looking after his parents farm and lands from raiders. Robert Fabbri manages to create a great atmosphere surrounding Vespasians early days on the farm where he fights to protect his live stock from local thieves. When his elder brother Sabinus returns home from the legions they are instructed by their father to take their local freedmen and slaves and seek out the thieves and make an example of them, which they set off to do in the first action of the story. As a result of their success their father (an ex soldier himself) takes them to Rome to meet their uncle with promises of serving the Empire, Sabinus in the mint and Vespasian as a young Tribune in the army. From the outset there is deceit and treachery especially for the younger brother who has to virtually fight his way out of Rome with the help of Magnus, a man used by his uncle when skulduggery occurs or is required. After joining his legion, he is quickly in the midst of the action in Thrace where all isn't as it appears to be. There are set piece battles, torture and executions galore and a sense of humour that's very squaddie like, that adds to the sense of believability. Young Vespasian performs well throughout all these encounters and slowly becomes a respected thin stripe Tribune. Robert Fabbri has produced a book of high quality with a story that makes you want to know what happens next at every twist and turn. His descriptions are vivid and realistic, the detail superb and the sense of humour great. It is apparent that Mr Fabbri knows his stuff and if you like Simon Scarrow, Ben Kane, Anthony Riches or Douglas Jackson, here's another author to look out for. This is a great start to a promising storyline and more excellent books.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Mark Patton

    Fabbri is one of a number of historical novelists writing about the Roman Empire (Douglas Jackson is another, as is Harry Sidebottom) with a particular interest in the Roman army and a notable skill in writing dramatic and visceral combat scenes. That said, there is far more to this book than simply swords and sandals. From beginning to end, it is superbly well researched. The characterisation, in particular, is very believable. I have researched Vespasian for my own novel, An Accidental King an Fabbri is one of a number of historical novelists writing about the Roman Empire (Douglas Jackson is another, as is Harry Sidebottom) with a particular interest in the Roman army and a notable skill in writing dramatic and visceral combat scenes. That said, there is far more to this book than simply swords and sandals. From beginning to end, it is superbly well researched. The characterisation, in particular, is very believable. I have researched Vespasian for my own novel, An Accidental King and, as I was reading Fabbri's book, I had a strong sense of knowing the man I was reading about. In part this is because Fabbri and I have been using the same sources (Suetonius and Tacitus, naturally enough, but also Barbara Levick's magisterial biography of Vespasian), but a fiction writer has to go beyond his or her sources, and Fabbri certainly does that here. There is much that we don't know about Vespasian's early career and much, therefore, that a fiction writer has to invent (in this case an intrigue which pits the young Vespasian and his brother against the megalomaniacal Sejanus and his fictional henchman, the freedman, Hadro). Fabbri conjures up a whole cast of colourful and believable supporting characters, from Vespasian's low-life fixer, Magnus, to his gay uncle, Gaius Vespasius Pollo, and the love of Vespasian's life, the historically documented Caenis. At the heart of the book are a number of conspiracies which may never have happened. Because of this, I started out with some scepticism, but found myself unable to put the book down.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Kirsten McKenzie

    Loved it. Now I have to read the next book in the series. This book traces Vespasian's early life on his parent's estate and his first foray into political life. Once again, it makes me grateful that I am not involved in politics, as I don't imagine much has changed over the millennia...

  15. 4 out of 5

    Pearl

    WHAT I EXPECTED You guys remember that TV show 'Rome'? Well I expected something like that. Lots of drama and villainy and backstabbing. But hopefully a lot lot less Sexually explicit. WHAT I ACTUALLY THOUGHT Meh. I could not engage with this story at all and finishing it really was a tough challenge. Not to mention the fact that the names and Cities al sounded and looked alike and made it really confusing for the reader. It's not that the story wasn't well written because there was nothing wrong wi WHAT I EXPECTED You guys remember that TV show 'Rome'? Well I expected something like that. Lots of drama and villainy and backstabbing. But hopefully a lot lot less Sexually explicit. WHAT I ACTUALLY THOUGHT Meh. I could not engage with this story at all and finishing it really was a tough challenge. Not to mention the fact that the names and Cities al sounded and looked alike and made it really confusing for the reader. It's not that the story wasn't well written because there was nothing wrong with the writing style of the book at all. I just don't think it was really my up of tea. I can't really put my finger on what kind of genre this book is supposed to belong to, and if I just lump it in with that bottomless pit known as 'Historical Fiction' then I feel I am giving up on it all together, because anything with that label basically screams at me not to read it. I am glad that i attempted to read it, and I knew that at some point during this challenge I would meet a book I didn't like and I knew that it would more that likely be a historical novel because history doesn't really hold any interest for me without another genre to make it worth the read like Crime or Fantasy. To me this was one of those books and although I am proud I finished it, I found it almost painful to do so.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Alison

    A terrific read. Although covering on a short period of Vespasian's life, the pace is strong. The research is obvious, but dropped in so deftly that you are there, whether on the mule farm of Vespasian's earliest years, his grandmother's house, his time in Rome or fighting in Thrace. After Vespasian himself, my next favourite character was Magnus - the tough guy, older experienced loyal follower with a mouth like a cess-pit. Bravo! Tertulla the wiser older woman - what a great (and unexpected) re A terrific read. Although covering on a short period of Vespasian's life, the pace is strong. The research is obvious, but dropped in so deftly that you are there, whether on the mule farm of Vespasian's earliest years, his grandmother's house, his time in Rome or fighting in Thrace. After Vespasian himself, my next favourite character was Magnus - the tough guy, older experienced loyal follower with a mouth like a cess-pit. Bravo! Tertulla the wiser older woman - what a great (and unexpected) relationship with her steward! Vespasia, a rather unsympathetic, tough Roman mother, contrasted neatly with the savvy Antonia and the love interest Caenis. Robert Fabbri draws his women characters well, which is refreshing for a book essentially about men and their experience of war. Talking of war, the battle scenes were brutal, bloody and graphic and no detail spared. We forget in our rather cosseted lives just how black and white life was like in the ancient world. Looking forward to reading book 2...

  17. 4 out of 5

    Krystina

    I started reading this series because I recently read Lindsay Davis' "The Course of Honor" and fell in love with the storyline involving Vespasian and Antonia Caenis. Although historians know little detail about Antonia Caenis, apart from the six or seven mentions by the Classic Roman Historians, Davis was able to weave quite a believable and involved tale about their lives. I found Fabbri's books because of a write-up on a historical fiction blog that indicated he was inspired by the women in V I started reading this series because I recently read Lindsay Davis' "The Course of Honor" and fell in love with the storyline involving Vespasian and Antonia Caenis. Although historians know little detail about Antonia Caenis, apart from the six or seven mentions by the Classic Roman Historians, Davis was able to weave quite a believable and involved tale about their lives. I found Fabbri's books because of a write-up on a historical fiction blog that indicated he was inspired by the women in Vespasian's life. I don't know if its the difference between a male and a female writer, or Davis possibly transferring modern concepts of love and faithfulness to an ideal that would not have existed in Roman times...but Fabbri has Caenis bearing her breasts within two minutes of meeting Vespasian. The female characters in this novel are poorly thought out and denied any sort of relevance. I hope this changes later on in the series.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Robin Carter

    When i first read about this book I was sceptical, The cover looked...well a bit naff and comical, and for me the cover can be a big lead in for the book, the synopsis had the potential to make this a true Scarrow rip off..BUT, it is Vespasian, one of the more interesting emperors, a man involved in so many great events in the history of Rome. So could this Robert Fabrri fella pull it off? Yes is the simple answer, in fact he does it in style, the book is very well written, well plotted, well pace When i first read about this book I was sceptical, The cover looked...well a bit naff and comical, and for me the cover can be a big lead in for the book, the synopsis had the potential to make this a true Scarrow rip off..BUT, it is Vespasian, one of the more interesting emperors, a man involved in so many great events in the history of Rome. So could this Robert Fabrri fella pull it off? Yes is the simple answer, in fact he does it in style, the book is very well written, well plotted, well paced, naturally great characters, and the fact blended with the fiction , to bring us Vespasian from Birth. So instead of a cheap imitation we have possibly a new contender alongside Simon Scarrow, Anthony Riches, Ben Kane, Conn Iggulden, Douglas Jackson etc and the top of this genre....an equally competent well written book two will show us that. This is a highly recommended Debut. (Parm)

  19. 4 out of 5

    Trish

    A wonderful, fast-paced, thrilling historical novel with some changes and added details about ancient Rome. The characters are lively and authentic, the descriptions of the landscapes, battles and the political intrigues are simply great. I enjoyed it very much. It is to say, also, that I didn't know about this apparently remarkable caesar Vespasianus. Thus, to find out about him truely having been a good man and ruler was a bonus. I am looking forward to the second book which I shall begin immed A wonderful, fast-paced, thrilling historical novel with some changes and added details about ancient Rome. The characters are lively and authentic, the descriptions of the landscapes, battles and the political intrigues are simply great. I enjoyed it very much. It is to say, also, that I didn't know about this apparently remarkable caesar Vespasianus. Thus, to find out about him truely having been a good man and ruler was a bonus. I am looking forward to the second book which I shall begin immediately. ;-)

  20. 5 out of 5

    Kate

    Pretty good, I'll certainly be reading the next book in the series. I learned a few new things about the Romans and as I, Claudius is one of my favourite books, it was nice to get an alternative view on events. Fabbri is no Graves, but then I don't think he's trying to be, and it's none the worse for that.

  21. 5 out of 5

    M.J. Webb

    Thoroughly enjoyable read. Great writing. Easy to follow and picture, the events are described perfectly. Action scenes are immense, blood and guts galore. The realism adds to this novel; fighting in those days was brutal and bestial. I will certainly be reading the rest of this series and have already ordered books 2 and 3.

  22. 5 out of 5

    mixal

    4.4 stars for second reading (5 stars after first reading)

  23. 5 out of 5

    Jasper

    Originally posted at: http://thebookplank.blogspot.com/2013/09/tribune-of-rome.html Tribune of Rome is the first book in the Vespasian series written by Robert Fabbri. As the name implies and the synopsis of the book, its set in the Roman times! Yes! I have come to love this genre over the couple of week a lot. Tribune of Rome is also Robert Fabbri's debut book. Robert Fabbri has worked in the film and TV business for 25 years and worked as an assistant director on productions such as: Hornblower Originally posted at: http://thebookplank.blogspot.com/2013/09/tribune-of-rome.html Tribune of Rome is the first book in the Vespasian series written by Robert Fabbri. As the name implies and the synopsis of the book, its set in the Roman times! Yes! I have come to love this genre over the couple of week a lot. Tribune of Rome is also Robert Fabbri's debut book. Robert Fabbri has worked in the film and TV business for 25 years and worked as an assistant director on productions such as: Hornblower, Patriot Games, Hellraiser and Billy Elliot. With Tribune of Rome, Robert Fabbri realized his life-long passion for ancient history. From all the Roman fiction books that I have read so far, each has been focusing on a different non-fictional characters from history or were fictional characters. In Tribune of Rome you follow the early life and times of Titus Flavius Vespesianus, also called Vespasian. Vespasian is a non-fictional character that played an important part in Roman history, though Robert Fabbri said he tried to stay as close to the actually events as possible, it is still fiction, and he did change the rules a bit. The first thing that I do have to mention is the way that Robert Fabbri has setup the storyline, what you normally see is a focus on a current day and age of an important event, with characters all grown up. Well in Tribune of Rome you are in for a quite a surprise as you are taken back to the earlier days of Vespasian, even so far as when he was born. And for me what was being told in his earlier days really has set Vespasian's character straight. Firstly, in a birthing ritual accompanied by animal sacrifices but something is off, and already a great veil is being laid around Vespasian's character. What could he destiny be? What will his significance be? And as the story progresses Vespasian hears that he is destined, but by an sworn oath, no one is allowed to speak of this. This is one thing that kept me fired up until the end of the book and even then, you are still left clueless what the marks were and what Vespasian is destined to do.. quite aggravating but saying this in the best positive way ofcourse. After this ritual you are skipped a few years later and see him in his coming-of-age years, not as a viscous warrior instead Vespasian is working on his parent's farm taking care of the animals. Vespasian is good at calculating and has other smarts as well but no combat experience at all. For me showing the daily life of Vespasian really gave this innocent feeling to him. It's by the returning of his older brother Sabinus, that Vespasian's life takes a turn. Vespasian is ready to "grow-up" and is being thought the soldier life by Sabinus, and in return Vespasian is giving Sabinus lessons at math. This all in preparation of their future, as Vespasian legacy can only come true on one front... I was very impressed by the way that Vespasian's character was shown and when you see him on the battlefield fighting against the Thracians, all brutal and grown up, it did fall to me to relate his personality of his younger years with what he has become and I think if you look closely you still can see a resemblance. But next to Vespasian, the secondary cast of the characters all help to make this a great story, and even though many of them are like Vespasian, non-fictional characters, they don't feel like they just appear. Instead Robert Fabbri shows them in a way that you would have assumed them to be, Emperors ruling with an iron fist, backstabbing politician and Sejanus and his freedman Hasbro just gave me the outright creeps. Like I mentioned above the storyline of Tribune of Rome focuses on the days of Vespasian, but it does take you places. After being made ready for the soldier life, Vespasian and his family travel to Rome to use their contacts to find Vespasian a place as a military tribune to gain experience. However with only one foot set in Rome, Vespasian discovers that it's not all a life of glory in the big city and soon finds himself fleeing to safe his own life and that of others. This flight brings him directly in the battle front in Thracia. But Vespasian, never fought in a real army, 16-years-old and a military tribune, now finds out just how hard life on the march is... This explanation of the storyline is way too short to describe Tribune of Rome but telling more would spoil your experience. There is a lot accompanied in all this, from betrayal, kidnappings, political intrigue and pitch army battles. Robert Fabbri had setup the storyline in a great manner, directly managing to pull me in from the start. Just lastly I want to mention the action in Tribune of Rome, now this is how I remember the Roman times. Hard, viscous, brutal and bloody. The focus isn't perse on this as earlier in the book there is a lot of exposition on Vespasian and how he is being made to what he is. But when the action does start to kick in, being it on a full scale field battles or assassinations, Robert Fabbri does manage to greatly anticipate the action and really start with building the right amount of tension. The describing of these events, from sword fights to cavalry charges and even defending with throwing the pilum's to the enemy are all done in full colors and really inspired several images in my mind like I was just there as a spectator. But it's not only the battle action that is described in lively detail, also when Vespasian is on the rescue mission and subsequently being chased down there is a great pull on the reader to drag you into the story and similarly were the horse races. Robert Fabbri really shows that he knows his writing. When I first started reading I hadn't expected Tribune of Rome to work out in the way that it did. Normally you have a picture of where the story might go, Tribune of Rome went above my expectations. I have been reading a fair bit of Roman fiction in the last months and they all are great but Tribune of Rome does something that I haven't encountered before. Showing the story of the non-fictional main protagonist from the beginning. Like I said above you really see how several events shaped Vespasian and how he turned from his farmboy attitude to a blooded warrior of Rome. What makes it even more remarkable is that Tribune of Rome is Robert Fabbri's debut and he managed to avoid a lot of pittfalls that usually accompany them, his characterizations are spot on and even the non-fictional characters, though they have a set history don't feel static but he makes them dynamic and really fit in to the story. The way the story was executed down to the details of intrigue and action make everything come to show. Only one small remark, there is this one scene where the word "chap" is used and looking back on the Roman times I felt this less suited on the whole, but other than this, there isn't anything wrong with Tribune of Rome for me, its super.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    A good start to the series (now that I've found this first one). It's good to see authors moving away from the usual rehashings of Julius Caesar and finding stories throughout the rest of Roman history. Coming to this as a Classics student who is fairly familiar with the Romans, I already have an expectation of how this series should play out. Equally, for someone not so familiar with the era, there might be more suspense. I know some people may groan at the cranky sidekick-type character, but I A good start to the series (now that I've found this first one). It's good to see authors moving away from the usual rehashings of Julius Caesar and finding stories throughout the rest of Roman history. Coming to this as a Classics student who is fairly familiar with the Romans, I already have an expectation of how this series should play out. Equally, for someone not so familiar with the era, there might be more suspense. I know some people may groan at the cranky sidekick-type character, but I find that it adds some much-needed humour to what might otherwise become a slog of politics and battles. I like the detail that has gone into the book - although there are occasions where it feels a little "let's hold the reader's hand and explain everything". I believe it's the author's first novel though, so they can be forgiven for that. Overall, a decent start: engrossing and easy to read with the double-spaced lines. I checked the second one out of the library this afternoon.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Peter

    Vespasian’s first 16 years are the subject of this very readable if occasionally clichéd novel based on the eventual-Emperor’s life in which real-life characters such as Sejanus and Macro mix with a few fictional creations. There’s a too fortuitous escape from Thracian tribesman, an appealing sidekick, a slave with whom he falls in love at first sight, plus some awkward dialogue early, but descriptions are vivid, history is accurate (particularly the intrigue) and battles brutally and compelling Vespasian’s first 16 years are the subject of this very readable if occasionally clichéd novel based on the eventual-Emperor’s life in which real-life characters such as Sejanus and Macro mix with a few fictional creations. There’s a too fortuitous escape from Thracian tribesman, an appealing sidekick, a slave with whom he falls in love at first sight, plus some awkward dialogue early, but descriptions are vivid, history is accurate (particularly the intrigue) and battles brutally and compellingly described. A good read.

  26. 4 out of 5

    James Casey

    I was advised to read Robert Fabbri a couple of years ago and at last have finally got round to doing so. I wasn't disappointed, a well written historical fiction, a really good story from the birth of Vespasian with its prophecy of greatness then through his younger years and his relationship with his jealous older brother, and onto his induction into the Roman army with the fighting and politics which he has to overcome helped by his good friend and protector Magnus. I look forward to reading I was advised to read Robert Fabbri a couple of years ago and at last have finally got round to doing so. I wasn't disappointed, a well written historical fiction, a really good story from the birth of Vespasian with its prophecy of greatness then through his younger years and his relationship with his jealous older brother, and onto his induction into the Roman army with the fighting and politics which he has to overcome helped by his good friend and protector Magnus. I look forward to reading more of the series.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Mike

    I stumbled on this book whilst looking for Roman era novels; my interest piqued by the fact it was about Vespasian and am very happy I did so. It's a very good balanced book and hard to put down; I'd thoroughly recommend it and you may well be feeling hooked on the series after reading it...! Detailing what it is that I think make s this author stand out is: - the easy flow of the story - the descriptive style that really helped envision the scenes - the very personal aspect that make s you feel co I stumbled on this book whilst looking for Roman era novels; my interest piqued by the fact it was about Vespasian and am very happy I did so. It's a very good balanced book and hard to put down; I'd thoroughly recommend it and you may well be feeling hooked on the series after reading it...! Detailing what it is that I think make s this author stand out is: - the easy flow of the story - the descriptive style that really helped envision the scenes - the very personal aspect that make s you feel connected - the attention to detail and the obvious knowledge behind it

  28. 5 out of 5

    Maarten Mathijssen

    Being interested in Roman history I thought let's start one the many popular historical Roman novels. The cleary great effort Fabbri took to come with as many historical accurate facts was very positive and interesting. And that in his imagination characters as Caligula and Vespasianus worked closely together is accepted. But the unimaginative style and form, the very unlikely events maken this book sometimes very hard to accept. I am going to give him one more chance, hopefully this was a typic Being interested in Roman history I thought let's start one the many popular historical Roman novels. The cleary great effort Fabbri took to come with as many historical accurate facts was very positive and interesting. And that in his imagination characters as Caligula and Vespasianus worked closely together is accepted. But the unimaginative style and form, the very unlikely events maken this book sometimes very hard to accept. I am going to give him one more chance, hopefully this was a typical debut and his writing has improved since then. Otherwise, not my cup of tea.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Martin

    Ancient Rome has piqued my interest since I was young. I read this in nearly one sitting (food and bathroom breaks excluded ! Easy style as with the Fabbri books and the reader is transported with the tale of Imperial Rome. Let it be known I have read ALL 8 at the time of this posing and eagerly await #9...when is the movie coming out~ shame Russell Crowe is a little too old now ! A thoroughly enjoyable read : GOODREADS make provision to give the extra 1/2 !!!

  30. 4 out of 5

    Susan Groves

    Interesting take on a period of documented roman history with enough mysterious gaps to allow imaginative licence. The plot is action packed with some well explained roman military procedure to enlighten as well as entertain. This is not for the faint hearted as the action is bloody and vicious. Reasonable well written and enjoyable.

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