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on 5 February 2012
Scarrow does not disappoint in the latest roman action movie for the imagination. I adore Macro and Cato and only wish his imagination and writing speed could match the speed at which I read!
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on 29 January 2012
This latest book is a bit different from the others in the series with a lot of sneaking and talking as opposed to large battles and raids. I found it more interesting than anything to see two characters who I am so familiar with in such a different situation. Superbly written and it's nice to see Macro and Cato stay true to themselves wherever they may travel to. I am looking forward to the next book! I thought this book would get a mixed reaction because it is quite different from those that came before it, but as always the characters are the strength of these books and they shine through once again.
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on 11 November 2011
I got my latest instalment delivered today in the Post from Amazon. Ordered in advance and it dropped on my door mat on the day of publication (thanks!)

As has already been pointed out by other reviews this seems a more mature novel from Simon Scarrow and a first class read.

I won't spoil the plot line but it has some neat twists and turns along the way and develops the people from other novels very well. It also moves along the story of the two central figures Cato & Marcus nicely. I particularly enjoyed the involvement of the Imperial Secretary Narcissus in this novel, he surely must be based on Sir Francis Walsingham, Queen Elizabeth the 1st's spymaster.

With this novel Simon Scarrow has again struck the great vein of writing from his first Roman Novels. I look forward to the next instalment.
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on 18 January 2012
I am a big fan of Simon Scarrow's Eagle series and without giving away too much of the plot, I was initially a little worried that this book might be boring, being that its titled Praetorian and will be based in Rome rather than on the boundaries of Rome fighting the barbarian hordes. However my fears were wrong.

What Praetorian has to offer instead is the ability to keep you on your toes with the twists and turns of conspiracies that circle Rome and the imperial family. Scarrow does very well to keep you guessing who the real enemy is, as Macro and Cato are faced with enemies not on the otherside of a shield wall but from within their own ranks. And in this book, by the end, all is not what it seems.

Scarrow has always managed to write great battle scenes, giving you enough information to set the scene but not too much to bore you or prevent your imagination taking place. With Praetorian, Scarrow manages to cleverly interweave these battle scenes into the book to provide these essential scenes we love to see Cato and Macro in.

Throughout the book, you can't wait for the climax that is built up and when it comes you are not disappointed. By the end of the book, we are given insight into what bestows Cato and Macro and I have a feeling that the next book will be even greater.

I would say this book is unlike all the others in the series and some may be put off, however I thoroughly enjoyed it but I am also happy to see where Cato and Macro are going in the next book and I can't wait to read it.

Thanks Mr Scarrow
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I have viewed some outstanding reviews of this book which will be far better than mine! I, like many of the reviewers have read this series from 1 through to 11. I really like Simon Scarrow's work and enjoy the pace, the narrative and of course the two Roman Officers, Cato and Macro, who despite being diametrically opposed manage to compliment each other extremely well.

I greeted the publication of this book with eager anticipation, yet with a degree of scepticism regarding whether Mr Scarrow could continue this series in its current form. I was pleasantly surprised that he was able to change the focus of the storyline into something a little more subtle than his earlier books, but with that loss of bravado, I fear that this edition is not the best: I really enjoyed his early work and will continue to purchase future books, however, perhaps it is my familiarity with the characters that makes me think that I am buying each one chasing a storyline that has probably reached its peak some time ago. Ultimately readers will vote with their feet, there is a plethora of Roman historic novels about and in that respect, Mr Scarrow has got it right: perhaps too right and that is why we are at version 11 and I dare say many more to come. In essence, wouldn't it be nice if there was a happy ever after? Cato marries and moves off into politics like his father in law and Macro purchases a brothel in Syria.
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on 22 January 2012
The Praetorian Guard is a rich, under-mined topic in historical fiction. It has a lot of potential, and so far has only has been briefly touched in the work of Robert Graves and Robert Fabbri.

I have only read a few of Scarrow's earlier books, and swore I would never touch another. However, a book around the Praetorian Guard was too tempting to resist. Scarrow's writing has certainly improved, but he suffers from covering a period that have been much better covered by Graves [I, Claudius] and Scott [The Emperor's Spy.]

Probably my biggest irritation was Scarrow's obsessive 'our boys' [that is virulent in the tabloids] views of the legions, and the bourgeois Praetorian Guard. The legions are salt of the earth, and the Guards nothing more than ornamental. The Praetorian Guard where a stabilizing force that protected an unbalanced throne - making and unmaking Emperor's, and both Praetorian and legionary where agents of Imperial Rome.

The plot didn't work for me either. May be Scarrow is better at battles scenes, but he should leave the Spy Thrillers to someone else. A riot springs up from nowhere, there is no foregrounding [and I suspect someone had been reading MC Scott's The Emperor's Spy, and like it so much he had to do the same.] I also suspect that Scarrow is a fan of Westerns, because that's what I felt like I was reading.

I can see that Scarrow certainly has his audience, but I'm certainly not it. Give me the political mechanications of Robert Graves, Rosemary Sutcliff and Robert Fabbri. Don't expect anything ground-breaking plot wise, it's pretty predictable stuff. Books with taglines such as 'two brave soldiers must fight to save the Roman Empire' always make me snigger [or 'chuckle' which seems to be a favourite of Mr Scarrow's]

In the Author Notes Scarrow concedes that the Praetorian Guard were dangerous. So why does he not allow his Guards show us how dangerous they are?
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on 23 November 2011
Cato and Macro are back! It is A.D. 51 and, fresh from their last adventure in Egypt, we open with the treacherous murder of Balbus on the Appian Way and the stealing of two million sesterces that was bound for the pay chests of the imperial legions. It is the motive behind the theft that has Narcissus, the freedman of Claudius and one of the most powerful men in Rome, coerce Macro and Cato, as they kick their heels in Ostia, into infiltrating the Praetorian Guard. A unit known more for parade gloss and carousing than serious military action is about to get the wisdom and action of our dour, hard-headed centurion and newly promoted (though unconfirmed) intelligent prefect. With alibis as Capido and Calidus they find themselves in the Guard under the command of Optio Tigellinus, Centurion Lurco, and Tribune Burrus. Narcissus communicates with them through his agent Septimus instructing them to begin a mission to find the bullion, work out if the shadowy Liberators are plotting to murder Emperor Claudius, and understand where the disappearing grain supply is going. Tasks better suited to Cato's questing mind than Macro's blunt force.
Whilst undertaking the mission the pair is forced to deal with the imperial politicking of Narcissus and Pallas; tiptoe around the naked aims of the Empress Agrippina to advance her son Nero against those of Claudius' true son, Britannicus. The action commences soon enough with Macro and Cato coming up against a gang headed by the giant Cestius. The first skirmish in the streets of a rioting Rome has our heroes save the imperial family and work their way into Sinius' confidences as co-conspirators against Claudius. Having established their position all that remains is to work out who is really controlling the strings of the plot and where the grain supply is going. Having got the inept Lurco out of the way with a kidnap that also has the satisfaction of the annoying Vitellius from previous novels knocked cold and bound up, Cato and Macro find themselves being swept away by a burst dam, fighting gladiators at the Naumachia and then working out where the missing grain is being hidden just in time as Rome threatens to descend into a greater riot. A sodden trip into the Cloaca Maxima and a confrontation with Cestius leads to Cato and Macro racing back to the palace to thwart a final attempt on Claudius life and a denouement that reveals much, concludes little, of the politics of Rome and grants our protagonists a trip back to Britannia for their next outing.
I have liked Scarrow's novels ever since a fresh faced Cato appeared on the pages of the Augusta II with a crusty, plain-speaking centurion named Macro. The author's language is direct, he is clearly at his best when writing action scenes - though there is a five page philosophical almost-soliloquy by Cato around page 250 of the hardback version when he considers is legacy and the futility of the present... "The leaden sense of despair that it engendered weighed down upon Cato as he thought that this is how it was, is and would be for as long as those few with power were more concerned with accruing it for themselves rather than using it to better the lot of those they ruled." - and he keeps the `fill' to a minimum as Cato becomes the sleuth puzzling out who did what, when and where. Scarrow chooses to deliver his prose in modern format so we get words like "rake", "gangster" and "rabble" freely used amongst Macro's endearing soldier slang. There was only one typo that made it to the version this reviewer has read; somewhat amusingly Macro comments on the delights of "proper soldering" rather than "soldiering" on page 251.
Blacksmithing aside, Scarrow hits the spot unerringly. Eleven novels in the Roman series give the proof of the brilliance of what the author has achieved. As a reader, Cato and Macro have as much as place in the pantheon of Roman characters as Falco and Gordianus. Scarrow is as good as Davis and Saylor. Different in style, equal in success. The adventures of Cato and Macro are enjoyable and this latest instalment is as good as the rest. I hope the author continues with this pair for as long as he can.
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on 10 February 2015
Scarrow as usual spins a light entertaining yarn. Although the series defiantly starts to blur into one another.
Nevertheless you find yourself anxious for the outcome and Marco and Cato's safety. As usual a vivid, humorous and easy read that will leave you sufficiently satisfied and enticed.
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on 28 January 2012
I loved this book but then I like anything by this author. It might be a bit obvious at times but it describes everything so well that you can almost feel you are there. Some things maybe glossed over but it never stopped me from thoroughly enjoying every bit of it from beginning to end!!!
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on 11 May 2015
I would give Praetorian 5 stars for the political intrigue and the fact that Cato and Macro get caught up in all this political in fighting. Again another brilliant book by Simom Scarrow great plots an easy flow and great entertainment I would highly recommend the whole Eagle series to anyone.
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