87 of 88 people found the following review helpful
With a whole host of books out there featuring the roman army in action, an author has to do something a little different or special to get their title not only noticed but also read by the literal army of potential fans out there. What Robert Fabbri does in his debut novel is place one of the most intruiging Roman Emperors who rose to this elevated position during the "Year of the Four Emperors" (AD 68-69).
Here Robert takes Vespasian from his young beginnings and weaves a magical tale for the reader that will see him rise due to his natural talents. It's cleverly written, the principle protagonist comes to life within the pages and the reader really is in for a treat as the book unveils its tale through clever prose and steady pace almost matching the legionaries of ancient Rome itself. All in this book is a decent beginning for a great story and a solid debut for a new author. It's definitely going to be interesting to see how Robert develops over subsequent titles.
54 of 56 people found the following review helpful
When i first read about this book I was sceptical, The cover looked...well a bit naff and comical, and for me the cover can be a big lead in for the book, the synopsis had the potential to make this a true Scarrow rip off..BUT, it is Vespasian, one of the more interesting emperors, a man involved in so many great events in the history of Rome.
So could this Robert Fabrri fella pull it off?
Yes is the simple answer, in fact he does it in style, the book is very well written, well plotted, well paced, naturally great characters, and the fact blended with the fiction , to bring us Vespasian from Birth.
So instead of a cheap imitation we have possibly a new contender alongside Simon Scarrow, Anthony Riches, Ben Kane, Conn Iggulden, Douglas Jackson etc and the top of this genre....an equally competent well written book two will show us that.
This is a highly recommended Debut.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
This one is an excellent start to a new serie from a new author. The topic is the life of the first Flavian Emperor - Vespasian. Although very little is known of his younger years, Fabbri manages to tell the story in a convincing and realistic way. The cut-throat (quite literally!) and ultra competitive political climate in Rome at the time of Emperor Tiberius is particularly well described.
There is of course nothing in the historical sources about Vespasian being hunted by Sejanus' Pretorians, if only because if they had been, his promising career would have ended kin some ditch somewhere. Inspiration obviously comes from A. Riches (for the hunted young officer) and perhaps also from Scarrow. However, there is no obvious copying.
The author has clearly done his research work. For instance, Antonia's slave girl that Vespasian is in love with was a historical person. She remained his mistress for her whole life. Also, Vespasian did have an elder brother with a military background who helped him but died before he became emperor. A great read: you won't be able to let it down...
91 of 96 people found the following review helpful
on 8 May 2011
Whenever I see a debut book form an author who's obvious agenda is to target the Scarrow's "Macro and Cato" series which are such good fun, I always have to remember that they're never going to make the grade. After reading Fabbri's debut novel today I can honestly say it was fantastic. Detailed, entertaining, atmospheric and with the usual epic battle scenes this really is a novel that feels like it should have been screened as part of HBO's Rome series which was a masterpiece and stunningly entertaining. There's little point in summarizing the storyline as you can read that for yourself in the product description. All I can say is, if you're a fan of Roman historical fiction this is an absolute must! Buy it, you won't be disappointed and although this novel won't change the world, you'll certainly end up fully immersed in the Roman legions for a few hours!
54 of 57 people found the following review helpful
on 3 May 2011
This is the debut novel of Robert Fabbri, the first book about the life of Vespasian who was eventually involved in the invasion of Britain in AD43 and who later went onto to become Emperor. The book starts with his birth where sacrifices are made and great things are foreseen about the forthcoming life of the young man. The story then jumps to a fifteen year old youngster who is intent on looking after his parents farm and lands from raiders.
Robert Fabbri manages to create a great atmosphere surrounding Vespasians early days on the farm where he fights to protect his live stock from local thieves. When his elder brother Sabinus returns home from the legions they are instructed by their father to take their local freedmen and slaves and seek out the thieves and make an example of them, which they set off to do in the first action of the story.
As a result of their success their father (an ex soldier himself) takes them to Rome to meet their uncle with promises of serving the Empire, Sabinus in the mint and Vespasian as a young Tribune in the army. From the outset there is deceit and treachery especially for the younger brother who has to virtually fight his way out of Rome with the help of Magnus, a man used by his uncle when skulduggery occurs or is required.
After joining his legion, he is quickly in the midst of the action in Thrace where all isn't as it appears to be. There are set piece battles, torture and executions galore and a sense of humour that's very squaddie like, that adds to the sense of believability. Young Vespasian performs well throughout all these encounters and slowly becomes a respected thin stripe Tribune.
Robert Fabbri has produced a book of high quality with a story that makes you want to know what happens next at every twist and turn. His descriptions are vivid and realistic, the detail superb and the sense of humour great. It is apparent that Mr Fabbri knows his stuff and if you like Simon Scarrow, Ben Kane, Anthony Riches or Douglas Jackson, here's another author to look out for. This is a great start to a promising storyline and more excellent books.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
It's about time a novel was written about this fascinating emperor - spymaster to Lindsey Davis' Falco, key to the invasion of Britannia and builder of the Colosseum. The 99p kindle price didn't hurt either. I'm so glad I spent it. Fabbri takes us back to the young Vespasian, looking after his father's estates in the provinces. As he gets a little older it's time for him to add military experience to administrative knowhow and he and his rather unpleasant brother set off for Rome in search of the right posting to secure honour and wealth for their family. Mixing with the elite of Rome, it's not long before the young men are caught up in the intrigues of the court of Tiberius, most of which circle around Sejanus and Antonia who are mortal enemies.
When Vespasian, with the eager help of none other than Caligula, rescues Antonia's captive maid from the clutches of Sejanus, he has no choice but to flee Rome with the Praetorian Guard at his heels and his thug of a bodyguard Magnus for company. He heads for Thracia and, in a case of jumping out of the frying pan into the fire, earns his military boots facing a massive rebellion of the local tribes. There is no escape from Rome's intrigue even here as Vespasian questions the role of Rome's leaders in the revolt.
Vespasian is an immensely exciting book. Its second half is full of battles, mixed with the intense hours waiting for the first blows. The first half, however, can match it, notably with a brutal chariot race and the machinations of court life. The book is full of meticulous and fascinating knowledge that brings the streets and blocks of the city of Rome to life, as well as the countryside, roads and military camps of the empire. Vespasian's story is in extremely capable hands and I look forward to the next chapter in his life.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
This is the first book from Robert Fabbri and it is a cracking read with all the essential story elements added to a flowing fast paced writing style.
The story follows a young Vespasian as he transforms from a boy helping his father run their farm to a young man serving his country in their army in 26 AD during the reign of Tiberius, the second Emperor of Rome. (Augustus was the first Emperor of Rome from 27 BC to 14 AD.)
Vespasian has to grow up fast if he is going to bring honour to his family, and he can not do this whilst being on the farm. Luckily for him his Uncle Gaius is an politically connected figure in Rome, because only by being noticed in Rome will the doors leading to the corridors of power be opened. But being noticed in Rome may bring not only rewards but also risks and danger. Vespasian falls for a beautiful slave girl of Lady Antonia, which means by default he becomes her ally, and therefore the enemy of Sejanus. Currently the power of the Emperor Tiberius, as he is usually out of Rome, is being channelled through Sejanus.
So there is political intrigue, spying, love, action, and soldiers fighting. What more could you want in a historical novel?
If you like Simon Scarrow or Colleen McCullough then I am sure that this is right up your street. If you have not read either of them then buy this Under the Eagle (Roman Legion 1) and First Man In Rome (Masters of Rome) now, a couple of my favourite series on Rome. See my listmania: Historical Military Fiction, for a list of the best 8 books.
26 of 29 people found the following review helpful
It is very clear that Robert Fabbri knows his history, and you get detail here in abundance, down to the minutest detail of the organisation of Roman legions on the march, how stockades are constructed and the mechanics of the fighting. Hand-to-hand combat is described in unflinching detail, with numerous disembowellings, decapitations and blindings.
There is an interesting tale to be told here, and Fabbri can be seen developing his writing style through this first novel - it is much more accomplished by the end than it was at the beginning. Characterisation is not a strength yet, and many of those that we read about are two-dimensional at best, making it difficult for us to care about them.
If you are after a ripping yarn, enjoy historical detail about Roman life and aren't too bothered about skilful or subtle storytelling, then you will want to read this. Rosemary Sutcliff's The Eagle of the Ninth Chronicles and Robert Harris' Pompeii,Imperium and Lustrum are there for those who would like more accomplished novels to read.
A good start, though, at a very attractive price on Kindle. Let's hope that Fabbri continues to develop his writing talents so that they match his undoubted historical knowledge.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 31 December 2011
A fantastic read. Robert attains a high quality, yet easy to digest writing style similar to that of the established and successful 'Simon Scarrow'. As such, this series will no doubt be a major success.
Vespasian himself is very well portrayed, his character comes through very well, and Robert develops him into a believable, and very three-dimensional character. The secondary characters are certainly well thought through, and you do really get the sense of how Vespasian is simply a pawn in a greater game.
The thing that grates a little in this book, is the continual references to his 'destiny'. It does feel like your getting continually reminded as though you may forget.
Other than that... this is a fantastic read. If your a 'Simon Scarrow' fan, this is defiantly a book for you. If your a fan of Roman Historical-Fiction, this is defiantly a book for you. In all honestly, even if your not either of the above, it's still an easy to read, entertaining story, hat you won't be able to resist reading al the way through.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
VESPASIAN TRIBUNE OF ROME Robert Fabbri 1st edn.2011 Hardcover + Kindle Edition
It is a shame that so many historical novels about the Roman era tend to be almost automatically compared to Simon Scarrow's adventures which I believe are part of a separate sub-genre. VESPASIAN: TRIBUNE OF ROME is less the action adventure and more of a fictional biography in the same vein as Iggulden's Caesar chronicles although it has a good share of battles, skullduggery and violence commiserate with the era. Fabbri does paint an enthralling picture of the possible early life of Vespasian, destined to become Emperor of Rome, his youth and early service with the legions eventually rising to the rank of tribune.
The book is well written, the historical research good and the story entertaining and absorbing, more so because of the real historical characters woven into the tale. I look forward to the future volumes of this series, which if they are anywhere near as good a quality as this debut offering have the promise of a excellent addition to the genre.
Addendum: I liked Fabbri's first three stories so well that I have now purchased the Kindle editions to read the book again whilst on holiday.