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Ok But we Have Been Spoiled by The Emperor Series
on 22 March 2010
This is an adventure set in the days of Pompey, Crassus and Caesar and following the legion that Crassus lost on his ill fated expedition into Parthia. It's a good enough story, and I don't really fault the effort the author has put into understanding the history and setting - but I have been spoiled by reading through Conn Iggulden's "Emperor" series. That is an extremely hard act to follow.
Ultimately the thing that - to me - let this book down was the pacing of the story - I almost gave up at 250 pages in because nothing much had actually happened at that point. We were treated with far too much information about the life of the prostitute Fabiola. I did not intend to buy soft porn, but the sexual references were very frequent in this book (not just for straight sex either). Eventually events unfold in Parthia as they must, and there were no surprises on that score. The story sets up a sequel, but maybe the book would have been more interesting if the sequel had been written into this one. I doubt I will bother with the sequel.
Regarding prose, there was something odd in the dialogue. The author uses some very basic colloquial English, which is fair enough as a stylistic choice. Romans swore as much as anyone, and used colloquialisms too. But then the next sentence of dialogue would be much more formal. An example:
"We are in deep sh**. We should flee"
Surely a more natural dialogue would read "We are in a dire situation now, we should flee" (formal) or "We are in deep sh**. Run!" (colloquial)
Maybe others will disagree, but this grated on me as I was reading it.
I cannot really recommend this story, although its not the worst thing I ever read, so I will give it 3 stars and add that if you are patient with the pacing, your mileage may vary. But really I would recommend the "Emperor" series in preference to this.