25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: Wounds of Honour (Empire) (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is the first in a trilogy based on the Roman Empire - you could be forgiven for groaning, because it's all been done before hasn't it? Well the subject matter has been covered before, but Riches brings to life the experiences of soldiers at the Empire's front line in such a vivid fashion, it would be a shame if this series is ignored.
While the intrigues and power struggles of Rome form the basis of the plot, it forms only a minor part of the story, which focuses on life at Hadrians Wall, the far reaches of the Empire, where practical concerns take centre stage. And so we follow a refugee from those power struggles, as he overcomes adversity to earn the right lead his troops in a bloody battle against overwhelming odds.
The book really falls into 2 parts, the first covering the arrival of Marcus Valerius Aquila and his elevation to Centurian, and the second the campaign against the barbarian hordes from North of the Wall. Riches detailed knowledge of the Roman Army is well to the fore throughout, with a host of interesting details which add to the plot without overwhelming it. The descriptions of the campaign and the climactic battle are simply superb, providing an insight into the reasons why the Roman Army was such a formidable fighting force. The only reason why I didn't give the book 5 stars is because I found some of Marcus early exploits' were a little too hard to believe, but that's being picky.
This is a rattling good yarn, full of duty and comradeship as well as betrayal and treachery. If you have read any of the many books which cover tha same topic (by Iggulden, Scarrow at el) I suspect you will really enjoy this - I know I did, and I'm looking forward to the next instalment