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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great return for Cassius Corbulo!
Roman imperial secret service agent Cassius Corbulo is back. Despatched by the chief spymaster to his deputy's villa on the island of Rhodes, Cassius arrives to discover the deputy, Memor, newly murdered. Not only that, Memor's head has been sliced off and stolen by his assassin. Reluctantly, Cassius accepts the inevitable and sets off in pursuit of the killer on a winter...
Published 16 months ago by Kate

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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Dissappointing
Generally I love this kind of book and I have read other books from Nick Brown in this series, but this story line was mostly a crime thriller and a long, long boat ride. There was plenty of action at the end of the book but the characters just annoyed me and I read the book quickly to get to the end and get to another author. This is one of the very few books I have...
Published 10 months ago by JD


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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great return for Cassius Corbulo!, 18 July 2013
By 
Kate (Oxford, Oxon United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
Roman imperial secret service agent Cassius Corbulo is back. Despatched by the chief spymaster to his deputy's villa on the island of Rhodes, Cassius arrives to discover the deputy, Memor, newly murdered. Not only that, Memor's head has been sliced off and stolen by his assassin. Reluctantly, Cassius accepts the inevitable and sets off in pursuit of the killer on a winter journey that will take him and his companions across the stormblown Mare Nostrum to a remote part of Cyrenaica on the cold and dusty North African coast.

The Agent of Rome series is a favourite of mine but, while I would suggest you read The Siege (Agent of Rome) and The Imperial Banner (Agent of Rome) first, The Far Shore stands well alone.

The Far Shore is one of the most gripping novels of Roman historical fiction that I have read. It is heated up with two equally dramatic, harrowing episodes that were impossible for me to put down. The sea voyage is so intense and horrible and brilliantly described that I could feel my own stomach churn, let alone that of Cassius and the others. The captain and his crew come alive, doing much more for the novel than simply sailing our hero across the Roman world. This is then matched by the fascinating depiction of life on the very edges of late Roman rule on its remote North African edge. This is the late 3rd century AD when indigenous tribes were reclaiming lands across the empire, aided by a succession of fleeting, corrupt, embattled governments in Rome. Cassius gets a taste of this first hand in Cyrenaica. A dangerous place at a dangerous time.

Quite apart from the edge of seat action, a great appeal of this series is the trio at its heart - Cassius is an unlikely hero. As he admits, being a secret service agent hardly endears him to strangers, and his youth and arrogance might seem charming at times but at others they get him into all sorts of trouble. He is very likeable but he also can be irritating. His treatment of his servants, and the entire female gender, is enough to make the reader roll their eyes on occasion. But he has many redeeming qualities which shine through despite himself. Simo, the bodyservant from Gaul, is a fine creation by Nick Brown. There is so much I want to know about him. We see him mainly though his master's eyes but we get glimpses of something much deeper and fascinating. We found out a little about Simo in The Imperial Banner and I'm looking forward to learning much more. Indavara is likewise a character with a lot to give as we go through the novels. The Far Shore tantalisingly delivers some of Indavara's past. The dynamic between the three can be laugh out loud funny, amusing, or deeply touching or on edge. It works very effectively to unite the novels together even though the action in them is largely independent.

Overall, The Far Shore is a thoroughly enjoyable, fast and furious, often funny Roman adventure, populated by people I care about and set in a world in which demons are at work. I'm grateful for the review copy.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars an absorbing tale set against the back drop of one of the greatest empires in the world, but exposed to its core of corruption, 17 July 2013
By 
Parm (A bookshop near you) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
Review:
It becomes, after a while very easy to say a book is the best yet, his finest work etc. to be honest I think that this should be the case, a person should grow in their job, should strive for improvement, if they don't do that they stagnate and come to see it as a wage not thing to be enjoyed and improved.
There are some fine authors who have fallen into this downward spiral (not always a neglect, sometimes just life getting in the way). The good news is that Nick is at the start of what is a very steep upward curve. Every book leaps and bounds above the last with improvements in style, prose, characterisation and intricacy to the plot.

When book one The Siege (Agent of Rome)came out I grabbed it because I love Roman Historical Fiction, it was during that first read that I had a momentary worry, I'm not normally a fan of Historical Crime fiction. (No idea why, I like crime thrillers , I love Hist Fic, should be a marriage made in heaven) It's my failing, I suppose I'm looking for the CSI type resolution rather than the cerebral Holmes type resolution? I have tried some of the really great writers of this genre and been left feeling ...Meh!
But not so with Nick Brown, Corbulo is not the average detective type, especially in this book, there is a total humanity to him, a depth that so many writers fail to get to. He is on the page warts and all, his innate snobbery, something he clearly doesn't see because that's the way he was raised. His view of women, and their status in the order of the roman world and his utter surprise when a strong woman gets peeved at him for being a chauvinist prig. His casual demeaning of Indavara (who is my favourite character in the book, not just your average thug, a man of depth and complexity, but also who provides great humour in the book, one of my fav sidekicks at the moment across many series.) these traits are all part of the make-up of a very complex man, driven, and brave, afraid of not doing his duty, striving to be better, but also built from the sum of his experiences, and as he is still a young man he has many more experiences and lessons to learn.
The other thing that keeps bringing me back to Nick Browns books is his USP (unique selling point), the fact that his character is set in his own career, he is and isn't a soldier, he is a Grain Man , a spy, a fixer, a detective he is what ever the Roman secret service (the Frumentarii) require of him. This sets the whole series apart. And I think its this that gives the added extra for me personally and lifts it beyond a Hist Fic Crime novel. Its part crime, part detective, part spy, part hist fic. It basically is an absorbing tale set against the back drop of one of the greatest empires in the world, but exposed to its core of corruption.

The Plot... well read the book description,
"When the deputy commander of Rome's Imperial Security Service is assassinated on the island of Rhodes, Cassius Corbulo swiftly finds himself embroiled in the investigation. Assisted once more by ex-gladiator bodyguard Indavara and servant Simo, his search for the truth is complicated by the involvement of the dead man's headstrong daughter, Annia.

Braving hostile seas, Cassius and his allies follow the assassin's trail south aboard a ship captained by a roguish Carthaginian smuggler and manned by his disparate, dangerous crew. Their journey leads them to the farthest reaches of the empire; to a ruined city where the rules of Roman civilization have long been abandoned, and a deadly battle of wits with a brutal, relentless foe."

That was written by an expert, you don't need me to add to that... and I miss spoilers by avoiding it.... I will say Corbulo has my sympathy on the sea voyage, I felt green just reading about it.

Reading geek points also to anyone who spots the Star Wars reference in the book (I'm not spoiling it.... Sorry, meant I didn't see it because I'm not a geek...honest)

Highly Recommended
(Parm)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Roman C.J Sansom, 15 Nov 2014
This review is from: The Far Shore (Agent of Rome) (Paperback)
I was happily stuck in a historical crime fiction rut – mainly medieval crime – but a friend recommended this book, and left me wondering why I had not discovered the delights of Roman crime and the author Nick Brown before? I can’t say how much I enjoyed this book – finding the mixture of plot, characters, action, humor and the historical setting perfectly balanced. The protagonist Cassius is a fantastically unreconstructed male – there is no pandering to 21st century sensibilities here. Some of his opinions on his slaves, servants and women are startling. On the other hand, other characters in the book, such as his bodyguard Indavara or the brilliantly stubborn Annia, challenge his prejudices again and again – allowing Cassius to come across as a likeable and engaging character, if a little flawed. But who wants a perfect hero? The main storyline – the murder of an important official in the Roman spy service – creates a gripping plot that takes the reader on a kind of nautical road trip to Rhodes, Crete and then the northern coast of Africa. The historical details are fascinating – but The Far Shore doesn’t read like a history book. The details are there to feed the reader’s imagination and bring the story to life – exactly what historical fiction should achieve. Brown also writes action brilliantly – an element of this genre that a lot of other writers seem to struggle with. I could follow all the action scenes without wondering who was doing what, or what just happened. There was suspense, horror and sometimes even humor in these scenes. One of the delights of discovering a new novelist to read, is finding that they have a rich back-catalogue. The Far Shore is not the first in the Agent of Rome series – but this wasn’t a problem to me as a reader. Everything in the novel made sense to me as a stand-alone novel – but I now have the pleasure of reading what came before.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Read, 12 Aug 2013
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This series is getting better and better, anyone who likes historical fiction then you'll love this. Up there with the best of them. Really looking forward to the next book and hopefully many more!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Exciting and well-paced, 26 May 2014
This review is from: The Far Shore (Agent of Rome) (Paperback)
Nick Brown's The Far Shore features the second Roman setting in my historical fiction month and it's the second such series I'm not starting at the beginning. Despite not starting with the first book in the Agent of Rome series, The Far Shore is very readable and it doesn't feel like the reader misses crucial information by not having read the previous books. More than Anthony Riches' Empire series, Agent of Rome feels episodic, especially since The Far Shore is essentially a murder mystery. However, that may not be true for all of the books in the series, but I can only judge by this one. And The Far Shore is an exciting story, with a satisfyingly neat ending, that left me curious to learn more of Cassius, Indavara, and Simo.

Interestingly, while Cassius Corbulo is the book's protagonist, I connected far more strongly with his bodyguard Indavara. In fact, at times I found Cassius downright unsympathetic. Cassius can be arrogant and headstrong and not always too considerate of the feelings of those around him. It's a trait that comes to the fore most often in his treatment of Indavara, Annia, and Annia's maid Clara. His thoughts and behaviour as regards the two women isn't pretty--in his view of the world women should be seen and not heard, demure, dutiful and should know their place. Annia is none of these things, she's opinionated, just as headstrong as Cassius and isn't content with waiting at home for the men to discover who killed her father--unsurprisingly, I rather liked her. His exasperation with her behaviour, which at times is quite warranted, is often interspersed with thoughts that she's quite attractive and if only she'd be better behaved, which exasperated me in turn. On a similar track are his dealings with Clara; while she seems to reciprocate his advances, it made me feel squicky as I kept doubting whether she'd ever really have been able to say no, seeing as she's a slave.

But Cassius' relationship with Indavara was the one that frustrated me the most. While at times it feels like there is a friendship in the making there, Cassius can't seem to get over his snobbishness and forget that Indavara used to be a gladiator and as such is a freedman, not a citizen. Yet, there is certainly a lot of fellow-feeling there and he does seem to want to do right by Indavara, when he thinks about it consciously. At the same time, when Indavara catches Annia's interest over Cassius, instead of acknowledging he's jealous, he lashes out and decides Indavara is overreaching himself. However, I did like the fact that he's called out on his behaviour and that he apologizes to Indavara later on in the story. His interactions with Indavara are contrasted with his far more equitable relationship with his man-servant Simo, another character I really liked.

Indavara is a mysterious character. We get the rough sketch of how he became Cassius' bodyguard, but we don't get any background on him other than that he used to be a gladiator and he's saved Cassius' life on several occasions. He's a combination of hard experience in battle and a rather naive, innocent and uneducated soul outside of it. I found him a compelling character and I appreciated the petulance with which he regards Cassius' treatment of him at times. His tentative romance with Annia was delightful and I loved the fact that he was so conscious of not wanting to overstep her boundaries. When we finally do learn more about Indavara's past, near the end of the narrative, it clarifies a lot about him and I wonder if one of the next books won't focus on the questions raised by this revelation.

The mystery central to the narrative is expertly plotted and paced. I really liked how it was resolved, though it came at a cost that I hadn't foreseen at all. Brown doesn't pull any punches and doesn't keep anyone safe, and the lion almost killed me. I enjoyed the fact that while there are some pitched battles in the book, most of the conflict is of the more stealthy variety, which is fitting for a book featuring an intelligence officer. Additionally, Cassius is not a gifted warrior, in fact he's middling at best, something that I found refreshing as usually this isn't the case. Brown also took the action of the book to a portion of the Roman Empire I hadn't encountered before and it was interesting to see how different things are on the other side of the Mediterranean.

The Far Shore was a really enjoyable book, whose last 150 or so pages I tore through in one sitting. Even if Cassius wasn't the easiest protagonist to like at times, I did come to care for him as I did for his companions. The story was exciting and well-paced and I certainly hope to read more of Cassius' adventures in the future. If you like your historical fiction set in the Roman period and like mysteries, then this is certainly a book you need to check out.

This book was provided for review by the publisher.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A good read., 28 Mar 2014
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The romans did so much and here is another story. Well written and full of action. You dont want to put it down.
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5.0 out of 5 stars More good storytelling as Corbulus goes from strength to strength as ..., 19 Sep 2014
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More good storytelling as Corbulus goes from strength to strength as friendship, bonding and trust become stronger and develop in unexpected ways showing that human relationships can cross social and historical barriers without creating chaos in society. Attention to historical detail is very good and doesn't make for boring reading. More tension and excitement coming into the storytelling as Corbulus begins to mature as a human being.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Cracking Roman Mystery with solid action, 29 July 2013
By 
Gareth Wilson - Falcata Times Blog "Falcata T... - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
Nick Brown has been an author that I love to spend time with, I love the way he weaves historical fiction with mystery alongside giving the criminal element to make the book something that will entertain readers of many genres. Add to this some wonderful imaginative sequences, cracking prose alongside a story arc that really does keep the pages turning all round makes this something special.

And whilst all this is enough for most people what really works well is the characters within, they each have their own strengths and weaknesses, they all have their own agenda's but perhaps best of all it's the dialogue along with their interactions that really do make this a title that is a joy to read. All round a great book and one that I will be rereading again soon.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a very good roman who done it, 19 Sep 2013
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A very good read and it kept me interested at every page highly recommended I truly enjoyed it I was sorry to read the last page
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pretty good, 5 Sep 2013
By 
Neil Robb - See all my reviews
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Love the way the characters interact, but really wanted more than what seemed to be just a bit of revenge.
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The Far Shore (Agent of Rome)
The Far Shore (Agent of Rome) by Nick Brown (Paperback - 27 Feb 2014)
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