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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rome is avenged., 1 Sep 2012
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This review is from: Avenger of Rome (Gaius Valerius Verrens 3) (Hardcover)
Whew. I finished it. Not a phew as in `that was tough going' but a phew as in `wow what a powerful conclusion.'

I've been reading Doug Jackson's books since Caligula first appeared in hardback, while I was still writing my first, and I love his work. But when he started the Valerius Verrens series, something changed and his work stepped up several notches.

Hero of Rome (the novel that introduces the character) is one of the best Roman novels I've read and the scenes of the evacuation of Colonia in advance of Boudicca's attack were among the most powerful I've seen. The second Valerius novel, Defender of Rome, had a different feel and a different tack. It was a brave novel and a powerful one, if a little bleak and soul-withering at times.
Avenger of Rome is a book I've been waiting to read for some time. I found it difficult to see how the story could progress after the second book.

Well Doug did good! Avenger is a triumph of a novel. It has the tension of the first book in the series and the depth of the second combined, but it also has much more. It is far and away the best of the series so far and left me wanting more.
After the horrifying events in Rome in `Defender', in this great tale, Valerius is sent east with the remit of investigating General Corbulo for signs of treason. But nothing is as it seems and, as Valerius becomes more and more involved in matters, he finds himself becoming a valuable and trusted member of the great general's staff as Corbulo defies imperial edict in order to safeguard the empire, whatever the cost to himself.

Certain things stand out about this book, to me. Firstly, the journey - which occupies a quarter of the book - is a magnificent tale in itself and could quite easily have made the basis for a novel on its own.

Secondly, the book features some of my favourite characters from Roman history (Vespasian, Titus and Corbulo) and does each of them proud, the depiction of Corbulo particularly striking a chord with me as it is very much how I have always imagined him. While I would hardly describe Nero as one of my favourites, I also have to admire the way Doug handles the complex character of the youthful emperor. Nero is an enigma and the character is built upon from the second book to a strangely almost understandable and certainly pitiable combination of paranoia, pride, neediness and hubris. He is too complex to pigeonhole, which is, I suspect, as close to the truth as any writer will get. Indeed, hubris is a strong theme among the more powerful characters in the novel.

Thirdly, the battle. Wow, the battle. Well, come on, it's hardly a spoiler, is it? You knew there was going to be a battle, right? I know from personal experience how hard it is to write a good battle. Not an ok battle, but a good one. I've tried. And in the end, I come down to showing any battle from a point of view of individual encounters, as I simply cannot adequately convey the scale of the whole thing. Doug just did. The scale was immense, the time it took, the numbers, the sheer organisation, and yet not a single detail is lost. Not even the noise. The smell. The tension. The fear. It is a work of sickening beauty.
The upshot? Valerius is one of the most interesting characters in Historical fiction at the moment and each book Doug writes adds to the depth and power of the character. This book has, however, stepped another notch upwards and, where the first left me feeling a little drained with the heart-wrenching conclusion and the second left me feeling weary and saddened, this one left me feeling awed and astounded and waiting to see what comes next (the conclusion almost pushes you straight into the next tale). Valerius, I will watch you put things right! My sword arm is with you.

Well done, Doug. A fab read. When's the next due out?
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hard fighting and cracking sequences, 21 Aug 2012
By 
Gareth Wilson - Falcata Times Blog "Falcata T... - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Avenger of Rome (Gaius Valerius Verrens 3) (Hardcover)
If you love hard combat with a lead character placed in between the hammer and the anvil not only politically but for their very life, then you really have to read Douglas Jackson's Gaius Valerius Verrens series. Here in the third outing for the character he's placed in perhaps the most perilous place possible as Nero's madness takes its inevitable toll on those around him.

As with the other books, it has great characters, solid prose and of course pace that really keeps you going especially as the first part is more of a journey to allow the reader to get to know the characters involved more. Add to this the huge combat sequences that occur later and all in this book more than hit the spot for me as a reader. Great stuff.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Without Discipline there is only Chaos and Death, 13 Sep 2012
This review is from: Avenger of Rome (Gaius Valerius Verrens 3) (Hardcover)
Emperor Nero`s grip on power is weakening.In every shadow he sees an enemy and like a cornered animal,he lashes out at every perceived threat.Gaius Valerius Verrens,Hero of Rome is ordered to Antioch with the power of life and death over Gnaeus Domitius Corbulo,Rome`s greatest General,a soldier he worships.After the last outing of Valerius in which he was drawn into the politics of Nero court,our hero is back on the battle field and up to his neck in blood and guts as he marches at Corbulo side,outnumbered,they make a stand in the wastes beyond the Tigris in an epic contest of military might and ingenuity that will decide the fate of the Empire.On top of this Valerius must decide whether to complete his mission,or risk incurring his Emperor`s dangerous wrath.Douglas Jackson has become a top story teller who puts you into the thick of the action,and with a in-depth knowledge of the period and along with quality research,he produces a first rate Historical novel that puts him in the top elite of Historical writers. May Valerius next adventure be with us soon.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another great book, 5 Sep 2012
This review is from: Avenger of Rome (Gaius Valerius Verrens 3) (Hardcover)
Avenger of Rome is the third book in Doug Jackson's series to feature the hero Gaius Valerius Verrens.

The Eastern Empire is in flames, Judea as risen up in rebellion and slaughtered its Roman garrison and the Parthian Empire, sensing Roman weakness has set it sights on placing its own puppet ruler on the buffer state of Armenia. Only one man can stop the Parthians, General Gnaeus Domitius Corbulo. Adored by his legions he has a plan to smash the power of Parthia once and for all. If he fails then the whole of the Eastern Empire could be lost.

In Rome, Corbulo is viewed with suspicion by the Nero and his court. He is too popular with the people and too powerful with the legions at his back, will he make an attempt for the throne? With Nero descending into madness and paranoia the Emperor needs someone to spy on and report back any treacherous actions or thoughts by Corbulo and his officers, that man is Gaius Valerius Verrens the Hero of Rome.

Valerius, our reluctant spy is sent out to the east as Corbulo's second in command. With his mission compromised before he even leaves Rome, Valerius must contend with Pirate attacks, shipwreaks, Mutiny, hostile officers and the beautiful Domitia, Corbulo's headstrong daughter. If he survives all that is thrown at him then he still has to survive Corbulo's plan to defeat Parthia and the paranoia of Nero and his cronies.

I have to say right off that I am a huge fan of Doug Jackson's Valerius series and this is the best of the series so far. After the more political settings of Defender of Rome it is good to see Valerius back where he belongs, leading troops and fighting Rome's enemies. This isn't to say that Jackson has completely jettisoned the political story. Between battles and fights we follow Nero and his court as fear and suspicion leads Nero to ever more brutal methods to maintain his tenuous grip on power and as madness grips him even his closest advisers start looking over their shoulders.

The main strength of this book are the battles scenes, Jackson writes them on an epic scale and the battle between Rome and Parthia is no exception. Throughout the book, the battles scenes are written with a pace and a realism and makes them very enjoyable to read. Valerius is a great character and he has a great supporting cast and I'm hoping Domitia is a character that sticks around.

This is a seriously good book and I'm looking forward to the rest of the series and as we edge ever closer to 69AD and the year of the 4 Emperors. It will be interesting to see where the author takes Valerius in this troubling time.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars super series. great., 31 Jan 2014
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Good follow on story plenty of action. All the action is very believable and the story's fit in with actual event's in history. Cant wait for the next book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a fantastic trilogy, 2 Jan 2014
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I hope there's a further book here but if not this has been among the best trilogies I've read. It's built and gathered momentum in an unstoppable manner.
The hero of the story is just that, magnificent and probably how we imagine our heroes to be, I want to read more about him, please Douglas give us more!!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Fantastic read, 5 Dec 2013
Another great book. Sad when it came to an end. Detail and characters are easily pictured. Cant wait for another
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Present for my dad, 7 Oct 2013
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J. Thompson "Tapper" (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Avenger of Rome (Gaius Valerius Verrens 3) (Hardcover)
This was a present for my dad and he tells me that he loved the book and couldn't put it down.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable Roman read with a kick, 5 Oct 2013
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I usually get put off reading Roman type adventure reads as I tend to find the names quite confusing to remember but this series of books kept my interest all the way through and I was sorry when I came to the end of Avenger of Rome.
Needless to say you can hardly have a Roman adventure without the gory stuff being included so be prepared but the story carries you through at a fast pace wanting to know what happens next to its hero
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic series, 8 Aug 2013
Avenger of Rome is the third novel (following Defender of Rome and Hero of Rome) in a series that follows young tribune Gaius Valerius Verrens as he travels around the empire, trying to survive, while back in Rome politics can be just as deadly as any sweaty barbarian's blade.

I particularly enjoyed the beginning and end of this book. Gaius is sent to Antioch to spy on the enormously popular General Corbulo, but the voyage there is fraught with danger and really sucks you into the characters' world right from the start.

Indeed, after a few chapters, each one ending on a nail-biting cliff-hanger, I began to wonder if the pace would keep up as it was starting to become a bit too much. The effect was a little desensitizing, and the edgy chapter-endings were losing power.

Thankfully, the pace settles down (somewhat!) once Antioch is reached, although things begin to build up again near the end, with battle scenes and a quite fantastic twist which I honestly didn't see coming, leaving the reader satisfied as the final page is turned.

I found myself noting down some negatives with the book - for example, I'd really like the other characters to be explored a bit more (Serpentius in particular, he could even have a spin-off of his own), and I find it a bit off-putting when the author keeps referring to certain characters by their full titles (e.g. Gnaeus Domitius Corbulo, rather than just Corbulo).

The scenes with Emperor Nero also felt a little tacked on, serving to show the twisted political machinations back in Rome, but not really feeling like they had all that much to do with the main story. That said, I'm sure those scenes have a part to play in setting things up for the next book in the series, Sword of Rome which has just come out in hardback.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed Avenger of Rome - my criticisms are minor and mostly nit-picking. Gaius Valerius Verrens has become a favourite character of mine in recent years and I look forward to continuing his adventures for a long time. If you haven't read any of this series yet, I advise you to get reading.

Oh, one more thing: Douglas Jackson has a quite disturbing way of writing torture scenes so the faint-hearted might want to skip those parts...I can see why he also writes crime fiction!

Steven A. McKay, author of Wolf's Head (The Forest Lord) and The Wolf and the Raven: 2 (The Forest Lord)
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Avenger of Rome (Gaius Valerius Verrens 3)
Avenger of Rome (Gaius Valerius Verrens 3) by Douglas Jackson (Hardcover - 16 Aug 2012)
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