1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rome
Why are these books not in Schools for pupils to learn about the Roman Empire, so exciting & informative! Excellent
Published 4 months ago by Mr Robert White
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Very difficult to love
Believe it or not, I picked up this book at a local book exchange not realising that it was by Manda Scott. I read the Boudica series some time ago and did review a couple for Amazon. This is a page-turner and I was very grateful for it in a time of extreme insomnia. It rattles along well, with the fairly unbelievable characters getting into all sorts of scrapes and...
Published 4 months ago by Mr. Thomas Thatcher
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rome,
21 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Spy, Warrior, Kingmaker,
This review is from: Rome: The Coming of the King: Rome 2 (Hardcover)Two years have passed. Math and Hannah are gone. The Leopard, Sebastos Abdes Pantera, remains. Rome is a distant memory and the heat of Rome's Eastern Empire shimmers with deadly allurement over the fate of our spy, warrior, kingmaker.
It is A.D.66, a summer ripe with rebellion. The burning of Rome is done and Saulos Herodian recuperates amongst the Berber tribes in the desert plotting the destruction of Jerusalem for he believes that "if Rome burned under the eye of the dog star, then Jerusalem might be sundered and in its place...might grow something wonderful...Judea must fall for that to happen." He has a new ally, the deadly Iksahra sur Anmer who uses falcons and cheetah as readily as a sword and the start of his new great game is to murder King Agrippa.
A desert away Pantera and Mergus are hunted on their way to Caesarea where Governor Florus and Queen Berenice reside. Estaph gives us a summary of the political situation: of Menachem's War party, of Gideon's Peace party and of the undercurrents of rebellious discontent against the Roman overlords where the province of Judea has plenty of keen ears into which Saulos can whisper insidious words of war. Conflict is swiftly engaged, the ebb and flow of struggles is set against the treacherous shifting sands of Roman Judea as we follow the timeline of the historian Josephus.
Into this assemblage comes Hypatia, Chosen of Isis, reluctant mentor to the headstrong Kleopatra, daughter of Queen Berenice. Hypatia is forced to engage with Saulos in the deadly political arena of Agrippa's court as Yusaf ben Matthias offers eight talents of gold in return for lands in Jerusalem to build a Temple; Sebastos is forced to get involved with tracking down Kleitos and a riot in Caesarea before dealing with the more direct route of battle by seizing Masada and riding with a rebellion to Jerusalem that will lead to a fulfillment of his destiny with Saulos at Herod's palace.
Scott has delivered a strong narrative after the opening "The Emperor's Spy". I stated that in "Dreaming the Serpent Spear" that we know with terrible finality that Breaca will die because history commands it but we do not wish it to happen. Yet, in this series we find ourselves diverging rapidly from Paulinian accepted history to a conclusion that is startling. Of course, St Paul or Saul of Tarsis disappears from the historical record but there is a fairly strong conclusion that he was executed in Rome around A.D.67. The author chooses an entirely different interpretation of both events and Saulos' motivation to fictionalize in this novel. The 'Author's Note' references scholars such as Daniel T Unterbrink who question the accepted version of the life of St Paul. With the Boudica series we can read safely knowing what must come but the Rome series steers us away from the familiar comfort of childhood stories in a manner that encourages us to pause and rethink. This reviewer was prompted to have a look for précis of Unterbrink's analysis. In some ways, I would recommend a purchaser read the 'Author's Note' before embarking on the novel as the conclusions and vilification of Saulos may startle many readers.
Historical alternative theories aside, Scott has delivered another crisp novel. The focus on relationships, of subtle machination, of youthful exuberance and crestfallen learning are the fabric upon which the author's narration rests. The steely, purposeful strength of the female characters guides the plot to the action points of battle; the grim determination and inexorability of fate drives Pantera. We feel the inner turmoil and struggle for understanding of our main protagonists, accept the sense of honour that drives Pantera, the intellectual and spiritual determination of Berenice and Hypatia. Well-drawn with prose that becomes terse when action is needed, verbose when emotions are being understood. There is a need to read the book thoroughly and not skim through it - such would be a disservice to the complexity of the relationships that are explored in the text - though I did feel the conversion of Iksahra from Saulos' tool to Hypatia's ally was a touch too quick, a single conversation being all it took to sway her judgment.
Scott gives all characters a voice. None within are silent extras, each has a story to tell, albeit quick or long. This is driven home by the small aside in the heat of a coming battle where a single guard, Laelius, makes a decision to abandon a post that will lead to death and retire to an old and fruitful life as a village smith. It is this attention to people rather than action that gives the story an entirely human element. Other authors writing of the classical period focus on the "white-hot clash and noise of battle" but miss the point entirely when it comes to understanding that character motivation, suffering, guilt and indecision is integral to satisfying a reader. Scott achieves this in her novels through a mix of myth, history, personal and social morality. It is the mixture of emotions that drags us into not just empathizing with the characters but also sympathizing with them.
So, we await "The Eagle of the Twelfth". Just a shame it might have to be 2012 before we can see how Scott deals with Pantera as he immerses himself more fully in Josephus' history. A history that might find him an ever more reluctant hero because, as Pantera himself observes: "I got what I wanted most in life, and found that I didn't want it all".
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful sequel - can't wait for Eagle of the Twelfth,Rome: The Emperor's Spy (Rome 2), Sebastos Abdes Pantera has pursued Saulos to Judaea. As we recall, Pantera is a Roman spy and pupil of Seneca while Saulos is the arch enemy of Roman and Hebrew alike. Known to history as St Paul but here freshly interpreted as an agent of vengeance and death, Saulos has recovered from his severe burns, resulting from the fire, and now has his destructive sights fixed on Herod and his family and the annihilation of the entire Hebrew race. Pantera's injuries are more of the mind. Still mourning his lost family in Britain and with his new family safely despatched to Mona, the sacred island of the Druids, Pantera focuses on restoring peace to Israel.
Pantera is a loved man - he is surrounded my men such as Mergus and women like Hypatia who would die for him. By contrast, Saulos is followed by the Berber huntress Ikshara who is tied to him only through lies and deceit.
The Coming of the King carries us around the Kingdom of Judaea in 66 AD. The focus is on the court of Herod, his sister Berenice and his niece Kleopatra. They are surrounded by rioting Hebrews and Syrians, pacifists and warmongers. As the influence of Saulos grows, the voice of reason dies, and the royal family leaves their palace at Caesarea for Jerusalem where they are effectively undersiege and under attack from without and within. Pantera's influence also grows, uniting the descendants of the Galilean, gaining arms and support through a daring assault on the seemingly impenetrable fortress of Masada in the desert.
However, the action of The Coming of the King, although exciting, is not what makes the book. As with the previous novel, what makes The Coming of the King special is the deeply realised characters and the prose that is used to create them and shape their actions. Pantera and Saulos are not new to us - and I would certainly recommend that you read The Emperor's Spy first - but Kleopatra, Berenice and Ikshara are brilliant additions to the series of novels while, rather noticeably, Herod himself is barely touched upon at all.
The prose is as beautiful as one would expect from Manda Scott. This is not a book to rush through. The past and fears for the future influence the actions of each of the characters as they keep an eye on the wider world at play here. The descriptions of the streets, the people in those streets, the politicians and soldiers, the fanatics and the desert dwellers - all are beautifully presented and make this feel indeed like a journey to 1st-century Israel, with its political conflicts and its religious struggles.
I would argue that this second novel does not quite reach the heights of the astonishing first book in the series, but it does conclude well the story of Saulos. Whether you agree with the interpretation of Saulos or not, there is a validity to the argument and power in its execution and the pairing of Saulos and Pantera is fascinating. Possibly, the problem here is that The Emperor's Spy presented such outstanding characters - Hannah and Math (not to mention Nero himself) - that I missed them.
The story continues next year with The Eagle of the Twelfth, the story of the legion of the damned. I can't wait.
5.0 out of 5 stars brilliant,
4.0 out of 5 stars A great read,
4.0 out of 5 stars A good story,
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars what a read,
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars He's Not the Messiah, He's a Very Naughty Boy.,
This review is from: Rome: The Coming of the King: Rome 2 (Hardcover)In this, the second of Manda Scott's Rome series, she takes the ashes (literally) of what has gone before and rises like a phoenix to deliver a much stronger sequel. With the first book, certain premises for both the protagonist and antagonist had to be laid out and this seemed to slightly overwhelm the flow of the story. No such problems exist in this second book.
Following on from the events of The Emperor's Spy, the hero, Pantera, is once more on a mission to stop Saulos from fulfilling the prophecies that will make him a new messiah, his legend built on the graves of thousands. The plot is thrilling and the writing builds to an intense pace, then sustains it. Incident follows incident, until the climactic confrontation between the two arch-enemies. On the way, we get to meet many other characters, chiefly the huntress Ikshara and the priestess Hypatia. All become involved as Saulos' plot weaves its threads, for his plan will leave no-one untouched. Scott's skill is bringing these disparate people to life and making us care about them. The religious controversy of the first book is still here for those who wish to make something of it, but it is given much less prominence than in the first book, which is all to the good for the sake of the story.
Along the way, we get to visit Judea in Roman times, and Masada although not at the time most people will know it from history.
An excellent book that takes what The Emperor's Spy started and improves on it, this is an action adventure thriller of the highest order. I can't wait for the third in the series.
5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderfully creative,
This review is from: Rome: The Coming of the King: Rome 2 (Hardcover)Having enjoyed Manda's first outing in her Rome series I really couldn't wait to see what unfurled in the second. After all she does a great twist on double dealing, politics and of course espionage which whilst containing some combat is more about the mental aspects alongside some strong emotional reactions from the characters within.
As can be expected they grow as the tale unfurls with loyalties and trust being tested along the way. Add to this a story that is wonderfully written, two master spies trying their best to outdo the other and finish off with great prose and solid pace which creates a novel that has all the right elements to keep you hooked. All in, this was a wonderful read and at a time of year when you're perhaps wanting to escape from everything I can think of nothing better to help you not only relax but also allow the mind to wonder as you think the possibilities through during breaks in your reading schedule. Great stuff.
3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Better than the first, even,
Rome: The Coming of the King is more than just a worthy follow-up to Manda's first Rome novel. It is a crescendo. Carrying over the protagonist and antagonist and a few of the supporting cast from The Emperor's Spy, the second in the series sees an escalation in the scale of the story. The first book saw a vile villain trying to burn Rome and destroy Jerusalem in order to fulfil his own, earth-shaking ambitions. Having partially succeeded in his task, that villain now returns to complete the job, centring all the action this time on Judea.
With a searing tale of political discord and religious zealotry, Coming of the King takes us to the searing deserts of Africa, sizzling, fomenting Caesarea, ancient, troublesome and majestic Jerusalem, and even to powerful, unassailable Masada, fortress on the rock.
As Saulos, having escaped justice at the hands of Pantera in the first book, insinuates himself within the highest circles of power (both secular and religious) in Jerusalem, accompanied by a desert nomad and her fearsome beasts, Rome's greatest spy and his companions travel to the east to try and bring him down.
While the villain sets endless obstacles in their way, rouses the people against them, and climbs ever higher on the rungs of power, Rome's indomitable agents face death, torture and the collapse of everything they know.
Manda's descriptions of a land torn between the pragmatic Roman oppressor and an ancient and insular religious code - a land rife with sedition and violence - are evocative and exotic. It is hard not to `feel it as you read it'. As with the first Rome book, her treatment of the animals is exquisite, and the spiritual/quasi-religious side of the tale, while stronger than before and delving more into the world of the unknown, still fits well enough into the milieu that it does not seem outlandish or out of place.
In short, I thought the first Rome book was superb. I think the second is even better!
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Rome: The Coming of the King: Rome 2 by M C Scott (Hardcover - 12 May 2011)