Top critical review
on 15 February 2016
I've rated this 3*, really its a 3 1/2*.
Why? Because I didn't enjoy this as much as the first book in the series (Tribune of Rome) which I rated 4*.
This is very much a book of 2 halves, or more accurately 3 thirds. The first is action packed and very much in the vein of the first book, the third is a vivid portrayal of Tiberius and a young Caligula (far and away the strongest part of the book).
Problems arose for me in the middle third, its very politics heavy and there are numerous conversations between characters which serve, not entirely successfully, as plot exposition. I found it a little confusing and difficult to follow.
Its a solid and entertaining read but it requires a fair bit of concentration, its not a book to dip in and out of. I would imagine its more enjoyable (and easier to follow) read in as few sittings as possible, maybe straight after the first in the series.
Hopefully this is just a 'difficult second book' blip in the series and things will improve in the third.
I do have to give a huge amount of credit to Robert Fabbri for the ending. Heartwrenching and horrifying, it brought a lump to the throat and almost a tear to the eye. Brilliantly written.