Customer Review

7 of 17 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Good story let down by poor editing, 25 Aug. 2009
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This review is from: Wounds of Honour: Empire I (Empire series) (Hardcover)
I looked forward to this novel because I'm a big fan of Roman historical fiction, especially any story set on Hadrian's Wall. The author has skilfully deployed his knowledge of the Roman army and his insights into military strategy, tactics and psychology to tell a rip-roaring tale of honour, treachery and comradeship that feels as authentic as it is exciting. The suitably gory fight scenes - single combat, skirmish and full-scale battle - are expertly choreographed and presented with cinematic precision.

What a pity, then, that the novel is marred by poor editing/proofreading (and no, I wasn't reading a proof or advanced reading copy although it seemed like it at times). The first two chapters are dated (November AD 181 and Februarius AD 182) but no other chapters have date headings, although the action takes us well into May. The numbers in the titles of the military units are rendered inconsistently, eg Ninth Cohort, 9th Cohort. The dialogue, though pithy and sharp, was sometimes hard to follow - better paragraphing or more speech tags would have helped. But most confusing of all was the journey Marcus and his escort Dubnus make from York to Housesteads on Hadrian's Wall. Dubnus says he's decided to take Marcus 'over the mountains to the west', presumably to throw murderous pursuers off the scent. This would only make sense if they turned north once they'd reached the western side. But from the start of the journey the only direction mentioned is north (6 times). It gets worse: we're told on one page that the journey will take 7 days to cover 150 miles, and a few pages later that it has taken 9 days at 30 miles a day. Even going west then north would hardly account for the discrepancy.

This might all seem like pedantic nit-picking but it jolted me out of the story too many times, spoiling my enjoyment of what could have been a fine addition to Roman military fiction.
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 13 Jul 2010 11:49:16 BDT
Je Salter says:
Picky?????????? Dear me, surely the novel and story content outweigh's the minute almost errors you have observed. Bad (I would say review but it isn't) summary!

In reply to an earlier post on 16 Aug 2011 22:08:52 BDT
Dignitas says:
I think the reviewer is entitled to be picky.

Trust me, I'm a classicist, and grew up in Hadrian's Wall country - as well as now living close to the Antonine Wall - that I can be picky about with Mr Riches book!

In reply to an earlier post on 11 Sep 2011 20:09:55 BDT
Mike Reed says:
I agree Je. The plot here is more important than the technicalities. It's a pity he can't look for more exciting fearures in the book.
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