11th November 2010, Headline
369 pages, Hardback
Roman warfare, a lot of violence, infrequent strong language, treachery, pursuit of enemy, Egypt, Alexandria, boats/ships, crocodiles,
Summary from Headline
Trouble is brewing in Egypt. Rebel gladiator Ajax and his men have been posing as Roman soldiers and attacking naval bases, merchant vessels and villages. Prefect Cato and Centurion Macro have been charged with the task of tracking down the renegade warrior before the problem gets out of control. Joining forces with Legion III, they hope to destroy their enemy on the battlefield. But the cunning gladiator has other ideas...
I admit it was the cover which drew me to this book. I saw it and thought 'Action, adventure, Romans at their best!' I was correct :) There is a lot of action in the book. It isn't all pleasant - I mean, the Romans actually used their weapons against people rather than just wearing them for show, as those on re-enactments do today. I liked how there were three point of views in the story: one which only happened at the beginning, one for Macro and Cato, and one for the evil, gladiator on the run Ajax. Ajax has a warped mind. I liked seeing the motives behind his actions. He was a scary character. He definitely got what he deserved in the end. Cato and Macro (All I kept thinking of when I saw Macro's name were the macros in computer programs (which can muck up a document if you aren't careful) are a fun pair. It is clear they have a long standing friendship. It gets strained a little because Cato is now a rank higher than Macro. Personally I'm not sure if Macro will get an elevated position - his sense of humour places him in a little of hot water at several points in the story. I think there is a fair amount of historical accuracy here, Simon explains a bit about the book at the end, and provides a few maps as well as the hierarchy of the army at the beginning. It feels real. Cato makes mistakes in the book, mistakes with a high price to pay at the end of them. He does what he feels is best at the time, and that is all that anyone can ask. This book has made it clear that officers in the army actually had a tough job. And that I'll be looking out for more adventures of Cato and Macro - I'm pretty sure there will be at least one more - the way the book ends it is clear that all is not finished for the likeable duo.
The ancient world is brought to life, making it easier to understand the line of command in the Roman army, and the political games that took place.
Be sure to check out the rest of the books in this series, which starts with Under The Eagle.
Simon can be found on his website (which he shares with his brother, also a writer).