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Iset (London, UK)
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Tribune of Rome: VESPASIAN I
Tribune of Rome: VESPASIAN I
Price: £0.59

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very good debut, 16 Feb. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
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.

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”.

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.


Samsara Eau de Toilette - 30 ml
Samsara Eau de Toilette - 30 ml
Price: £24.00

5.0 out of 5 stars Epitome of orientals, 13 Feb. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
In the initial burst the warmth and spices of this oriental come straight to the fore; musk and sandalwood, uplifted by bright citrus notes of lemon, and tempered into the soft florals of rose, jasmine and violet, with a hint of juicy, delicious peach. Straight away the multi-layered and beautiful nature of this oriental is striking. It is absolutely spot on. The perfume has an ever so slight sense of powderiness in the notes, which is mainly contained in the violet, but it’s not overwhelming. After about an hour the dominant note is definitely the spicy wood of sandalwood, with a sprinkling of powdery violets and a dash of smooth tonka bean, vanilla, musk, and amber. Samsara is sophisticated and sensual, but also beautiful, blending together rich florals but still making sure everything is underpinned by the intoxicating spices that make up the scent’s base notes. This is exactly the sort of oriental I adore.


Ghost Deep Night Eau de Toilette for Women - 30 ml
Ghost Deep Night Eau de Toilette for Women - 30 ml
Price: £20.00

5.0 out of 5 stars Romantic oriental, 13 Feb. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
In the opening burst Deep Night practically oozes luscious orientals, with a gorgeous and absolutely dominant note of night blooming cereus. Just the barest hint of rose, apricot and peach are detectable behind it. This definitely lives up to its name; I have a definite evening vibe from it, and it feels floral and oriental enough to be sophisticated and sensual, but the fruity notes are soft enough also that it comes off as quite romantic. For such a simple fragrance, with so few notes, it’s surprisingly good. After an hour the blend does soften and becomes smoother. Some have complained that it loses the edge that most orientals have, and becomes something cosier and warmer. That’s true, and whilst I love my edgy orientals, I’ve completely fallen in love with Deep Night. I love the softly sensual drydown just as much as the sultrier, edgier opening.


Far Away Gold Eau de Parfum Spray - 50ml by Avon
Far Away Gold Eau de Parfum Spray - 50ml by Avon
Offered by Beauty 1st
Price: £7.56

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enchanting floral oriental, 13 Feb. 2015
The initial burst is bright and fruity, with bright orange notes, and softened by the peach, but also a blend of juicy tropical notes that might just be pineapple, guava, passionfruit or similar. The citrus of these fruits is brought down to earth by the undertones of flowery heart notes and creamy base notes, giving the impression of stunningly bright, uplifting initial notes but none of the citrusy tang, and a certain level of delicious, sensual earthiness. After about half an hour the fruits have mellowed and now the jasmine in the heart notes comes to the fore, warm and golden, holding back the amber and vanilla in the base notes which give the beautiful jasmine a delicious, creamy, foody twist. After two to three hours the fragrance has melted into that creamy vanilla fully, with only the slightest trace of jasmine, and a dash of coconut and amber notes. Like the original, Far Away Gold is a lovely floral oriental, but this version is just a little more sophisticated and enchanting, a little more smooth and suave.


Avon Far Away Exotic for HER Eau de Perfume Spray, 50 ml
Avon Far Away Exotic for HER Eau de Perfume Spray, 50 ml
Offered by avon stuff
Price: £8.98

5.0 out of 5 stars Fruity oriental, 13 Feb. 2015
This perfume certainly lives up to its name. The initial spray is bursting with exotic fruits – mango, mandarin, pineapple, guava, passionfruit – juicy and rich, blended with a dash of warm spices, amongst which there is cinnamon, cloves, ginger, nutmeg, and a sprinkling of black pepper. There is a trace of the coconut underlying the top notes, and dewy, pink roses which promise to bloom later. After over half an hour the fruity top notes have mellowed into a soft background, allowing the coconut and rose to come much more to the fore in a gentle waft of cream and florals. After almost two hours the fragrance has mellowed only slightly and become a little more creamy, revealing just a touch of amber and patchouli, but is still dominated by rose and coconut with undertones of exotic fruit. Well after three hours however, and the potency of the rose has dimmed somewhat, the scent now drifting into a creamy coconut, amber musk that is now only detectable on the skin, but just as delicious as the first burst. I really like this fragrance, and I didn’t expect to since my preferred fragrances are usually straight up orientals or at least soft orientals or floral orientals. With the notes of musk, sandalwood, amber, and jasmine, this perfume has a dash of oriental notes in it, but the lush rose, creamy coconut, and rich burst of exotic fruits makes it much more a fruity fragrance with a subtle creamy, spicy twist, but somehow it works for me, and it works very well.


Yves Saint Laurent Belle D'opium Eau De Parfum Spray for Her 30ml
Yves Saint Laurent Belle D'opium Eau De Parfum Spray for Her 30ml
Offered by SMARTZPRICE
Price: £31.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Gorgeous, 13 Feb. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The opening notes are replete with floral beauty – the Casablanca lily, jasmine, and gardenia, given all the richness and juiciness of mandarin oranges. There are hints of white pepper, the curl of tobacco and incense, but they linger in the background, overwhelmed by the perfume’s luscious opening. After a couple of hours have passed, the fruitiness has all but disappeared, and those opening floral notes softened into something barely detectable. The incense, tobacco, and white pepper are more present and to the fore, but still soft, and finished off by gentle amber and sandalwood – the patchouli is completely absent. This is a gorgeous oriental. It’s not quite what I was expecting – I favour complex orientals, where as this is lovely but straightforward with its burst of orange and florals with a curl of smoke; uncomplicated, honest, and gorgeous.


Vera Wang Princess Eau de Toilette for Women - 50 ml
Vera Wang Princess Eau de Toilette for Women - 50 ml
Offered by PerfumeShopping
Price: £17.10

4.0 out of 5 stars Daytime oriental, 13 Feb. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The initial spray is absolutely bursting with soft fruits and florals. The orange injects a bright note of citrus, but all bitterness is kept out of it by being tempered with delicious apple and the beautiful florals of the water lily. Hints of the tiare flower and dark chocolate underneath, with the vanilla and amber, threaten to unfold later as the scent evolves. After an hour or so, those initial fruity, citrusy notes soften, and the water lily and tiare flower really unfold into soft, beautiful florals, underpinned by delicious dark chocolate, vanilla, and amber. This is a gorgeous floral oriental. I would have to say it isn’t my favourite though; it lacks a dark edge that I usually go for in my favourite orientals. This is more of a soft, bright, flowery oriental, something I would wear in the daytime. It is however, beautiful, and a delicious scent.


Vera Wang Love Struck Eau de Parfum Spray 100 ml
Vera Wang Love Struck Eau de Parfum Spray 100 ml
Offered by UK Fragrance Deals
Price: £24.63

4.0 out of 5 stars Fruity floral oriental, 13 Feb. 2015
In the initial burst the gorgeous pink guava blends beautifully with the florals of the angelica blossom, and underneath it all the woody notes and sheer musk give the fragrance a smooth, creamy, rich feel. It’s like a burst of the exotic grounded by sensual musk. I like this scent a lot in the initial stages. After an hour the scent has mellowed and become smoother, the guava still in evidence but the musk even more prominent, and just a hint of honey.


Far Away Eau De Parfum 50ml
Far Away Eau De Parfum 50ml
Offered by Beauty 1st
Price: £7.92

4.0 out of 5 stars Pretty fragrance, 13 Feb. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
In the initial burst the fruity top notes of this fragrance combine with the floral heart notes to create a scent that is both fresh and yet softly beautiful. The orange provides just a hint of juiciness, but it’s tempered by the milder notes of peach, coconut, and karo karounde. The freesias and roses create the soft floral bed, but the predominant floral note is the shy and yet enchanting violets. After almost an hour the fragrance has melted into the musky base notes, creating a blend of creamy delicious vanilla and powdery sensual amber, musk, and sandalwood. The fruity top notes have completely faded by this time, but the violet remains in a powdery form, as does a soft jasmine. All in all, this is a pretty scent, although it’s not amongst my favourites. It’s pretty rather than beautiful, a polite and demure floral oriental rather than a sophisticated and sensual outright oriental.


Davidoff Cool Water Homme Eau de Toilette - 40 ml
Davidoff Cool Water Homme Eau de Toilette - 40 ml
Offered by UK Fragrance Deals
Price: £13.19

4.0 out of 5 stars Great scent, 13 Feb. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Makes a great gift; a nice blend of lavender with herbal, green notes and sea water, with a solid finish of sandalwood and tobacco. Has a really sunny, uplifting feel to it. Must admit I'm tempted to borrow this myself.


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