This book is a departure from the rest of the series, being set in Rome, with Marcus aiming to finally get his revenge for what happened to his family. I found it a bit slow to start, and, since it's all in the city the settings didn't seem too inspiring. It also seemed to be rather predictable as it built to the inevitable conclusion and things had gone so smoothly. Marcus is harder to identify with here too, as he's basically ready to leave his wife and small child without a husband and father, in order to kill the men that destroyed his family. I don't know, as a father myself, I think I'd rather see my children grow up than throw my life away so selfishly but hey, that's the character and I expect people really were as filled with bloodlust in those times - the gladiatorial contests prove that!
In all, I was starting to get a little disappointed despite the fact the fight scenes were brutal and excellently written as usual and I've been rooting for Marcus since I read the first book in the series a number of years ago.
Then something happened and there was a neat twist that I genuinely didn't see coming and things exploded back into life again and I had to mentally apologise to Anthony Riches for doubting him!
Overall, this is a fine addition to the series, with some limitations due to the nature of the setting that couldn't really be avoided by the author but it finishes on a fine, satisfying note, leaving the reader looking forward to the next book. If you get the edition of the book with the free short story you'll enjoy that too so look out for it if you can.
Steven A. McKay, author of Wolf's Head (The Forest Lord Book 1)
and The Wolf and the Raven (The Forest Lord Book 2)