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The Scarlet Thief (Jack Lark)
The Scarlet Thief (Jack Lark)
by Paul Fraser Collard
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £19.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very good debut, 9 May 2013
On the far bank of the River Alma the massed ranks of the Russian army are lined up. Strong points are bristling with cannons, loaded with cannister shot just waiting shred the flesh of any advancing enemy. They are confident and determined, this is their home and they will resist the invaders from Britain, France and Turkey.

On the other side of the river stands Captain Jack Lark. He is about to lead his company into battle for the first time.

As he nervously looks upon the formidable Russian position he wonders whether he be able to show the necessary bravery and guts to inspire his men to charge into the jaws of death.

As a lowly ranker, who through a mixture of luck, guile and bravado has risen to the dizzying heights of a Captain in the British Army, he knows he must show the leadership expected of an officer.

But Jack hides a dark secret, one that could threaten his new position and even his liberty and when someone from his past appears, he must go into battle not only watching his front but also his back.

Can Jack survive the mad rush into the Russian defences and the danger from one of his own men or will his secret be exposed?

The Scarlet Thief is the debut novel from Paul Fraser Collard and I think it takes a brave man to write about a British redcoat in the 19th century. Any book like this, is always going to be compared to Bernard Cornwell's Sharpe series.

I am a huge fan of Sharpe and this has always clouded of any other series of similar ilk. I always feel that other authors either try to copy Sharpe or be so different as to make it ridiculous. The author seems to have not concerned himself with this and just written a believable character who is his own man. The clever twist in the story also helps move this away from a Sharpe like comparison.

The historical content of this book is first class and really brings to life the trials and tribulations of the British solider in the middle part of the 19th century. The descriptions of uniforms and equipment are accurate and add a layer of believability to the story.

The battle of Alma is loving described and is the centre piece of the book. The author captures the confusion, anarchy and downright terror of advancing into enemy guns and anybody with a passing knowledge of the battle will know that the author has stuck pretty much to the real life events. It is one of the best fictional accounts I have ever read.

Jack Lark is a great new character who because of the clever twist (which I won't say what it is!) can go anywhere and be anything and I'm really looking forward to following him around the Empire.

Is there any gripes? Just a couple of minor ones. First off, the `baddie' could of been developed a bit more. He didn't really cause enough mischief for our hero and I felt he was criminally underused.

Secondly, its just too short! At under 300 pages I got though this in an afternoon (this is also a good thing!). The battle scene is excellent and is well detailed but I felt the build up was a little light. Jack should have struggled more in the presence of other officers (this was touched on but again underused IMO) and this could have been an interesting side story.

These really are minor gripes and for a debut novel this was a cracking book. I've spent years trying to find a replacement for Richard Sharpe and I think I have found him in Jack Lark.

The Last King of Lydia
The Last King of Lydia
by Tim Leach
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £12.99

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing Debut book, 19 April 2013
This review is from: The Last King of Lydia (Hardcover)
he year is 558BC and King Croesus is at the height of his powers. He rules over an empire unrivaled in power and wealth and myths and rumours abound about the vast treasuries he has constructed in his palace.

When the Athenian philosopher Solon visits his court, Croesus has an opportunity to ask him anything he likes. The question he asks is thus: `Who is the happiest person you have ever met?' Solon's answer leaves Croesus perplexed. `You can only measure a man's happiness when he is dead.'

How can he not be the happiest person he had met? Was he not ruler of a vast and rich empire? Did he not have a loving queen and a strong heir? Dismissing Solon from his mind, Croesus turned his attention to a threat from the east.

The Persian Empire is on the move and Croesus decides he has to confront this threat head on. Leading his army out he comes up against one of histories great conquerors.

King Cyrus of Persia will destroy Croesus hopes and dreams and as he awaits his execution atop a pyre, his city being pillaged, his wealth gone and his wife and son dead. Solon's words will come back to haunt him `You can only measure a man's happiness when he is dead.'

In my alternative life as a book reviewer I am very lucky in getting some great book to review. Regular readers of this blog will know I tend to only review books I have enjoyed and think other people will enjoy as well.

Every now and then I will get a book that is so good that I'm almost too scared to review it in case readers think I have been paid by the author or publisher. The Last King of Lydia is a book that falls into this category.

This is a book without large set piece battles or gallons of blood and core but studies the human psyche and emotions.

The first half of the book deals with Croesus as king and how he deals with ultimate power and the relationships he builds with his family, subjects and slaves alike.

We watch as greed and power lead him to gamble his vast wealth and his very kingship in a confrontation with Persia.

The second half of the book then covers how Croesus handles the humiliation of losing everything he held dear and the loss of status.

I particularly enjoyed the relationship between Croesus and Cyrus, the Conqueror and the conquered in an uneasy alliance. The personalities of the two men couldn't be more different and I think that is a compliment to the writing.

Cyrus is strong, dominate, ruthless and power oozes from him, he make Croesus seem weak and feeble and a bit pathetic. It is a beautiful comparison between someone who believes he is all powerful coming up against a true giant of a man who will make his mark on history.

This is a beautiful re-telling of Herodotus's famous tale and I don't think I can recommend it highly enough.

It may only be April but this astonishing debut book from Tim Leach is without doubt my book of 2013.

The Imperial Banner: Agent of Rome 2
The Imperial Banner: Agent of Rome 2
by Nick Brown
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.74

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great book, 10 April 2013
After years of war, Rome is finally ready to sign a historic peace treaty with the Persian Empire. Before signing the treaty the Persian's are demanding the return of Faridun's Banner, their ancient battle standard that has fallen into Rome's hands.

Disaster strikes when the men sent to retrieve the banner disappear along with the banner and put the whole treaty in jeopardy.

Imperial agent Cassius Corbulo is summoned from his self imposed exile in Asia Minor. Traveling to the war torn province of Syria with his faithful slave Simo he is given the mission to find the banner and save the treaty.

With the ex-Gladiator Indavara as a bodyguard, Cassius must survive numerous skirmishes and assassination attempts as he enters the murky and dangerous world of Syrian politics.

Not knowing who he can trust, he must contend with traitorous Romans, Palmyran rebels and bandits. He also knows that if he doesn't find the banner he can kiss his career goodbye.

With the clock ticking down, can he find the banner and prevent Rome and the Persian Empire from sliding back into war?

With the Historical fiction market already saturated with Roman books I was a bit skeptical about this book. I mean were does another Roman book fit when you already have the likes of Ben Kane, Doug Jackson and Anthony Riches to name but three?

Well, fit it does. I have to say that thoroughly enjoyed this book, it is well written and has a great pace about it. While is may not have the big set piece battles that normally accompany a book about the Romans, it does has intrigue, danger and a healthy dose of detective work as Cassius searches for the banner.

Talking of Cassius, he is one of the main reasons this book is so good. He isn't your normal run of the mill Roman hero, in fact he isn't any sort of hero. For a solider of Rome he is scared of confrontation, useless in a fight and more interested in chasing the ladies than beating Rome's enemies.

What he is though, is a great investigator and with Indavara to do the fighting for him he can concentrate on finding the banner and stop war breaking out.

Another aspect of the book I enjoyed was the travel across the war torn province of Syria. As we accompany Cassius across the province we see the devastation that war has brought and the struggle that Rome faces to reassert its control.

I love the descriptions of the dangers on the roads and the desolation of the far flung way stations, as small pockets of Roman legionaries try to hunt down the last few Palmyran rebels and contain the bandits infesting the province.

With a great cast of secondary characters and a mystery that keeps you guessing until the end this is a excellent book and if you like your Romans, then you should read this book!

Rome: The Art of War (Rome 4)
Rome: The Art of War (Rome 4)
by M C Scott
Edition: Hardcover

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant!, 27 Mar. 2013
It is AD69 and the year of the three emperors but Vitellius sits uneasily on his throne. Disliked by the people of Rome, it is only his army and the ruthlessness of his brother, Lucius that is keeping him on it.

Out in the East, General Vespasian is resisting all attempts by his army and advisers to declare him emperor but when an assassination attempt is narrowly foiled he knows he must send his army west and face Vitellius face on. With the love of his life and his youngest son both in Rome, Vespasian know they will both be in danger the moment he declares his intentions.

With this in mind he dispatches the spy Pantera to Rome with two tasks, ensure the safety of Vespasian's loved one and to do everything in his power to secure the throne for him.

So Pantera must enter the murky world of Roman politics, desperately trying to avoid Lucius's men as they use torture and fear to try and hunt him down but this is what Pantera lives for and finding him won't be easy.

Aided by disparate group, none of whom he can entirely trust Pantera faces his toughest challenge as he tries to deliver to his master the greatest prize of them all: The Throne of the Roman Empire.

Rome: Eagle of the XII was my favourite books of 2012 so it wasn't with a little trepidation that I started reading The Art of War and wondering how M.C. Scott was going to improve on the brilliance of that book.

Did I need to worry?.......Of course I didn't!

As with every book in the Rome series each book has got better and better. What is so refreshing about these books is that each one if entirely different from its predecessor.

Characters who you love in one book, will only have a cameo in the next, one book will be about the Legions, the next about spying and politics. This approach keeps every book fresh and exciting and Art of War is no different.

Written from the viewpoint of multiple characters, each chapter is narrated by a different character (main characters have multiple chapters but spread over the book). This gives the story such a depth that it leaves you breathless as you follow Pantera for one chapter then rush back in the opposite direction with another character then jump across to the enemy as they hunt them both.

With this approach it means you invest a lot of time with each character and develop a real bond with them, it also means when I read of the enemy approaching or treachery I found myself shouting at Pantera to watch out!

It makes for fantastic reading and takes real skill to mesh the individual stories together into a coherent narrative but if any author can pull it off then it is M.C Scott.

If you have never read any of Rome Series then I command you to start with Rome: The Emperor's Spy and read each book in turn and watch a series develop and grow into some of the best books I have ever read.

Book of the year in March? It will take some beating!

I can not recommend M.C. Scott's books anymore highly and I can not wait for her take of Joan of Arc.

The Malice of Fortune
The Malice of Fortune
by Michael Ennis
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £12.99

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A little bit of Machiavelli!, 14 Mar. 2013
This review is from: The Malice of Fortune (Hardcover)
Ever since Pope Alexander Borgia's son, the Duke of Gandia was murdered, the Courtesan Damiata has lived in fear. As his lover, she knows that the Pope suspects that she had betrayed his whereabouts to his enemies and he is not a man to cross. So when she is arrested along with her son and taken to the Pope's palace she fears the worst.

While the Pope would like nothing better than to throw her into a cell he instead sends her across Italy to investigate the murder of his beloved son. With her son a hostage, Damiata knows she has no choice but to find the truth.

Traveling across a war torn Italy, she finds herself in the middle of a power struggle between the Pope's son, the Duke of Valentino and the leaders of the Condottieri.

These mercenary armies are bringing terror and despair to Italy and they are intent on maintaining their positions but the Duke is equally determined to destroy their power and build a new Italy.

In the midst of this murky and dangerous situation, Damiata enlists the help of a young Florentine diplomat Niccolo Machiavelli.

With the help of the Duke's Military engineer, Leonardo di Vinci they must investigate a series of gruesome murders that involves witches, sex, some of the most powerful men in Italy and a deranged killer who seems to take delight in taunting them.

Can Leonardo's new science of observation and Niccolo's `science of men' help unravel the mystery and bring the killer to justice?

I have to say that when I first received this book to review that I wasn't that hopeful. It takes a brave author to write a book that includes such famous characters as Di Vinci and Machiavelli, to then package them as some sort of `crime fighting duo' is even braver!

I decided to give it a go and I'm glad to say it was worth it. The characters are well written and the author quite sensibly uses Leonardo sparingly. It would have been quite easy to turn him into a sort of Sherlock Holmes character but he comes across as a little mad, bursting with ideas and obsessed with measuring the world, a little how I imagine he really was like.

The author is also clever in writing Machiavelli at the beginning of his career. By writing him as a penniless diplomat he can pretty much write him as he likes. It is interesting to read as Machiavelli struggles to delve into the mind of the killer and also has to deal with the men of power that he slowly develops the ideas that will form his most famous work `The Prince'.

The book has two main narrators, Damiata tells her story and then at about halfway though the book Machiavelli takes over, this leads to my only real gripe with the book.

The pace of the story is a little on the slow side and just as you get used to the narration style of Damiata it changes to Machiavelli who narrates in a completely different style, this causes the book to sag in the middle as you try to get used to the the new style.

To be honest this is a minor gripe because the story is gripping enough for you to overcome it and the author really captures the violence and chaos 16th century Italy and the murder mystery is well enough written to keep you guessing to the culprit almost to the end of the book.

If you are looking for something different in your His-Fic reading then I can recommend the Malice of Fortune.

The Queen's Vow
The Queen's Vow
by C W Gortner
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A great read!, 10 Jan. 2013
This review is from: The Queen's Vow (Paperback)
Isabella, as a royal princess of the Castille royal family, had only ever known the luxury and safety of her father's court. Brought up with great wealth and privilege her world is turned upside when Juan II dies. As her half brother, Enrique seizes the throne, Isabella, her brother Alfonso and their mother are whisked away to safety by a rival faction.

Sent to live in a rural backwater for safety, the family struggle to make ends meet and deal with the increasingly fragile mental health of their mother. As the children become pawns in the power politics of the Castille court, and with Civil war breaking out, Alfonso becomes the figurehead for opposition to Enrique's rule and Isabella, stuck at court must endure the hostility of her brother and his queen. Isabella must use all of her skills and intelligence to know who to trust and who to fear.

With the Civil War becoming increasingly bitter, Isabella turns to the power of the church to help her and learns that to survive and prosper she must be in control of her own destiny and make the hard decisions on her own.

When events conspire to place the crown of Castille on her head and her husband Ferdinand inherits the throne of Aragaon it seems that God really is smiling them. They then embark on a campaign to secure her throne from rebellious barons and to reunite Spain under their rule, this means taking the war to the Muslims of Southern Spain and finish the reconquista. The church also attracts their attention but the church has a high price for the help they received in grabbing power and Isabella is forced to unleash the Inquisition onto the suspecting people of Spain. As they increase their power and prestige in Europe a meeting with a charismatic sailor will lead to the discover of a new world and an Empire unrivaled in history.

I have to admit to being slightly apprehensive when I agreed to review this book. My usual reading is heavy on warfare and warriors with plenty of blood and guts chucked in so to be asked to read a book on a Spanish queen and her struggle for power was a slight departure from normal! This book was a joy to read, it was such a refreshing change to read history from a different point of view.

Isabella is, willful, headstrong and proud but she is never the less a warm and likable character who I felt a lot of affection for. As she struggles to survive you really get a sense of her anger and at times hopelessness as she has to deal with a man's world and a set of rules and traditions designed for men by men. Her relationship with Ferdinand is also well written, they draw strength from each other and drive one another to fulfill their ambitions for Spain. I also loved her frustration and loneliness as Ferdinand went to war and fought her wars for her and the desperation for news of his successes and survival.

This really was a great book and such a surprise for me, it was easily one of my books of the year.

Empire of the Moghul: The Tainted Throne: 2
Empire of the Moghul: The Tainted Throne: 2
by Alex Rutherford
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very enjoyable, 25 Nov. 2012
Mehrunissa seems destined to spend her life in a loveless and violent marriage, stuck in the backwaters of the city of Gaur far from the splendors of the Moghul court. When her husband is brutally assassinated her life is changed forever and she is summoned to the harem of the Jahangir, the new crowned Moghul emperor.

Jahangir, is now ruler over most of the Indian subcontinent. With wealth beyond the dreams of most men, he must be utterly ruthless if he wants to hold on to that power. As love blossoms between Mehrunissa and Jahangir she finds the power of the Moghul throne intoxicating and with Jahangir enjoying the pleasures of wine and opium she finds herself as de facto ruler of the Moghul empire.

As her influence grows she must careful manage the relationships between Jahangir and his ambitious sons but as Mehrunissa plots and schemes to maintain and increase her power she drives a wedge between Jahangir and his eldest son Khurram and the Moghul empire explodes into rebellion and war.

With Khurram growing in strength and rebellious nobles resentful of her influence seeking her downfall, Mehrunissa must use all of her guile and power if her and Jahangir are to maintain their grip on the Tainted Throne.

Tainted Throne is the fourth book in the Empire of the Moghul series but can easily be read on its own.

I have to admit not being a huge fan of the previous three books but I was pleasantly surprised by this book. This book is about relationships, how does a man of unparallelled power and wealth deal with sons who want that same power and wealth, especially when they become successful? Does he feel pride in their achievements or view them with suspicion and fear?

This is the dilemma facing Jahangir as his sons are successful on the battlefield but he has the added pressure of knowing that he had a failed relationship with his own father and rebelled against him. Will history repeat itself?

The main relationship in the book is between Jahangir and Mehrunissa. This is one of histories great love stories. From falling in love at first sight to their marriage, the love between them is evident throughout the book. The author really captures Jahangir's astonishment as Mehrunissa refuses to act like a proper Moghul wife and hunts and rides with him, determined to enjoy every minute with him and as she proves her worth in the rule of the empire he is content to sit back and let her control the reins of power.

The book captures the unimaginably wealth and majesty of the Moghul court and the author fills it with an exotic cast of characters, from Indian princes, English adventurers, Portuguese monks to Hindu priests and scheming nobles.

If you want a book that is set away from the usual Euro-centric histories then I can highly recommend the Tainted Throne.

Frozen Sun (Devils with Wings Book 3)
Frozen Sun (Devils with Wings Book 3)
Price: £3.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book, 16 Nov. 2012
With the triumph of the invasion of Crete behind them, Paul and the rest of the Fallschirmjager are detailed to take part in Adolf Hitler's invasion of Russia. Operation Barbarossa will be the largest land invasion ever seen and the unique talents of the Fallschirmjager will be desperately needed.

Paul and his trusty sergeant Max, along with the rest of the battalion are thrust into battle, enjoying the heady days of summer 1941 as the German Army stream rollers into the beleaguered Russian Army.

With the German high Command using the battalion for specialist tasks, Paul and the rest of the Fallschirmjager have to contend with heavy artillery and Soviet amoured trains!

Pushed up to the front line, the Fallschirmjager are given the task of trying to contain the Soviet bridgeheads on the river Neva as the Russian army desperately tries to escape the encirclement of Leningrad.

As the Russian winter closes in, this turns into a war of attrition as the Russians repeatedly throw themselves at the thin line of Fallschirmjager defenders. With causalities mounting from the increasingly bitter Russian winter and the attentions of the Russian Army, Paul and Max face a tough time trying to hold their command together and keep the Russians at bay.

Harvey Black is a self published author and Frozen Sun is the third book in the Devil with wings series. I have reviewed the first two books, Devils with Wings and Silk Drop previously. It has been a real joy to see the progression of the three books, from the quite stilted dialogue of book 1 to the free flowing fast paced dialogue of this book.

I have to say I really enjoyed this book , I thought it brought home the journey these men made. From tanned confident warriors, confident in their leaders and their equipment to freezing, staving men, using anything to try and keep warm and as the casualties pile up they start questioning their commanders.

The level of detail is astonishing at times, every weapon and piece of equipment is loving described and now that the dialogue is much better it doesn't clog the book up or slow down the story. It is almost a book of fiction and a factual record.

The relationship between Paul and Max is another bonus from this book. We have watched it develop over the three books and it is written with what feels like a real understanding of the bond between men who have seen the horrors of war.

This is a really great book and I would recommend it not only to people who have an interest in WW2 but also an interest in the comradeship between soldiers.

I know the author is currently writing a new series to be published next year but I really hope to see many more books in the Devils with Wings series.

Sword and Scimitar
Sword and Scimitar
by Simon Scarrow
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £18.99

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great read!, 6 Nov. 2012
This review is from: Sword and Scimitar (Hardcover)
Sword and Scimitar is the new book from Simon Scarrow and is set during the epic siege of Malta in 1565. Pitching the vast Muslim armies of the Ottoman Empire against the Knights of St John, the last of the crusading religious orders.

The English Knight, Sir Thomas Barrett is summoned back to Malta 20 years after his disgrace and exile from the order. A soldier and mercenary, his expertise is badly needed if the tiny garrison is to hold back the Islamic horde. Sir Thomas's problem don't end with trying to survive the siege, he has to deal with his fellow knights who have never forgiven him for bringing disgrace to the order and he must also help an agent of a hostile English government retrieve a secret document that could bring down the government of Elizabeth I.

As the Knights and their allies prepare for the onslaught, Sir Thomas struggles to deal with the secrets and lies of his allies and enemies alike and one of those secrets will blow his world apart.

As the Islamic host descends onto the Island, he must put all that aside as the desperate fight begins. Asked to defend the strategically important fort of St Elmo for as long as possible he must use his expertise and skill to hold back the attackers.
As the attacks begin, the defenders know that if they fail to hold back the Ottoman army they will be slaughtered to the last man.

With the siege and fighting becoming ever more bitter, can this small band of Christian knights defy the might of the Ottoman emperor and save Europe from the terror of an Islamic invasion? Europe holds it breath as the outcome hangs by a thread.

I have been a fan of Simon Scarrow since the first Marco and Cato book and this book hasn't disappointed. Taking this pivotal but less well known episode of European history he has shown just how desperate the conflict between Christianity and Islam really was.

The siege is extremely well written and captures the desperation, bravery and fanaticism of both sides as they throw everything at each other in a bid to end the siege victorious. Scarrow doesn't choose sides and both sides are shown as barbaric and intolerant.

This book is more than just a book about war, it is also a mystery as Sir Thomas tries to find the secret document that the English government is desperate to find.

In Sir Thomas, Scarrow has created a great character who has lived a life in the shadows since his disgrace but on his return to Malta finds redemption and a new reason to live. With a good supporting cast you get a good sense of the comradeship as men live a life of terror, bloodshed and death.

One thing I really enjoyed was Scarrow's use of famous speeches, which he has adapted for the book. I won't tell you which ones but I'm sure you will recognize them!

I really enjoyed this book and it is a shame it is just a one off. Mr Scarrow has delivered again.

The Wolf's Gold:  Empire V (Empire series)
The Wolf's Gold: Empire V (Empire series)
by Anthony Riches
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, 25 Oct. 2012
The Wolf's Gold is the fifth book in Anthony Riches Empire series.

The Tungrian Auxiliary cohorts are recovering after their hard fought victory in Germania. Hoping to be sent home they are disappointed to be sent to Dacia to help defend the Alburnus Major Gold mine from marauding Sarmatae tribesmen who are determined to capture an Empires gold supply.

In a desperate fight to the death, Tribune Scaurus will have to lead his cohorts with all the skill and experience he has, if the Tungrians are to survive the onslaught and see their homes again.

Centurion, Marcus Corvus and his fellow officers not only have to fortify and defend the mine but they also have to deal with truculent mine owners and a new commander who as a political appointment is more of a danger to his men than the enemy.
As the Tungrians Cohorts desperately fight for survival, Centurion Corvus will learn a secret that will open a window onto the men who ordered the death of his entire family but can he survive the battle to seek revenge on them?

Knowing that failure to secure the Mine will bring down the wrath of Emperor Commodos onto them, the men will fight to the death to save the mine and the province of Dacia.

With rampaging barbarians, dubious allies and an incompetent leader, the cohorts face their toughest battle yet.

I have always enjoyed Anthony Riches books (whisper it quietly but I didn't enjoy Leopards Sword as much!) and this book has to be his best book so far. The real joy of this book is the dialogue between the characters. It is so sharp and it flows so easily between the main characters and the banter is some of the best and funniest I have ever read. The infantry song about the cavalry had me spitting me drink all over my desk at work!

The main group of characters are now like old friends which makes reading about them so pleasurable and I like the way some of the group can fade into the background in one book and then be the main character in the next. An example is the use of Dubnus who is one of my favourite characters in the series but is hardly mentioned in this book.

In a year of great books this book has shot to the top of the leader board of my favourites! I really enjoyed it and got through it very quickly, which I always take as a sign of a good book. I don't think I could recommend this book enough. An absolute must for any Roman histfic fan!

This is Anthony Riches at his very best.

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