Customer Review

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rome, Praetorian Guard, Cato and Macro...another fine mix, 23 Nov 2011
This review is from: Praetorian (Roman Legion II) (Hardcover)
Cato and Macro are back! It is A.D. 51 and, fresh from their last adventure in Egypt, we open with the treacherous murder of Balbus on the Appian Way and the stealing of two million sesterces that was bound for the pay chests of the imperial legions. It is the motive behind the theft that has Narcissus, the freedman of Claudius and one of the most powerful men in Rome, coerce Macro and Cato, as they kick their heels in Ostia, into infiltrating the Praetorian Guard. A unit known more for parade gloss and carousing than serious military action is about to get the wisdom and action of our dour, hard-headed centurion and newly promoted (though unconfirmed) intelligent prefect. With alibis as Capido and Calidus they find themselves in the Guard under the command of Optio Tigellinus, Centurion Lurco, and Tribune Burrus. Narcissus communicates with them through his agent Septimus instructing them to begin a mission to find the bullion, work out if the shadowy Liberators are plotting to murder Emperor Claudius, and understand where the disappearing grain supply is going. Tasks better suited to Cato's questing mind than Macro's blunt force.
Whilst undertaking the mission the pair is forced to deal with the imperial politicking of Narcissus and Pallas; tiptoe around the naked aims of the Empress Agrippina to advance her son Nero against those of Claudius' true son, Britannicus. The action commences soon enough with Macro and Cato coming up against a gang headed by the giant Cestius. The first skirmish in the streets of a rioting Rome has our heroes save the imperial family and work their way into Sinius' confidences as co-conspirators against Claudius. Having established their position all that remains is to work out who is really controlling the strings of the plot and where the grain supply is going. Having got the inept Lurco out of the way with a kidnap that also has the satisfaction of the annoying Vitellius from previous novels knocked cold and bound up, Cato and Macro find themselves being swept away by a burst dam, fighting gladiators at the Naumachia and then working out where the missing grain is being hidden just in time as Rome threatens to descend into a greater riot. A sodden trip into the Cloaca Maxima and a confrontation with Cestius leads to Cato and Macro racing back to the palace to thwart a final attempt on Claudius life and a denouement that reveals much, concludes little, of the politics of Rome and grants our protagonists a trip back to Britannia for their next outing.
I have liked Scarrow's novels ever since a fresh faced Cato appeared on the pages of the Augusta II with a crusty, plain-speaking centurion named Macro. The author's language is direct, he is clearly at his best when writing action scenes - though there is a five page philosophical almost-soliloquy by Cato around page 250 of the hardback version when he considers is legacy and the futility of the present... "The leaden sense of despair that it engendered weighed down upon Cato as he thought that this is how it was, is and would be for as long as those few with power were more concerned with accruing it for themselves rather than using it to better the lot of those they ruled." - and he keeps the `fill' to a minimum as Cato becomes the sleuth puzzling out who did what, when and where. Scarrow chooses to deliver his prose in modern format so we get words like "rake", "gangster" and "rabble" freely used amongst Macro's endearing soldier slang. There was only one typo that made it to the version this reviewer has read; somewhat amusingly Macro comments on the delights of "proper soldering" rather than "soldiering" on page 251.
Blacksmithing aside, Scarrow hits the spot unerringly. Eleven novels in the Roman series give the proof of the brilliance of what the author has achieved. As a reader, Cato and Macro have as much as place in the pantheon of Roman characters as Falco and Gordianus. Scarrow is as good as Davis and Saylor. Different in style, equal in success. The adventures of Cato and Macro are enjoyable and this latest instalment is as good as the rest. I hope the author continues with this pair for as long as he can.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

Be the first person to comment on this review.

[Add comment]
Post a comment
To insert a product link use the format: [[ASIN:ASIN product-title]] (What's this?)
Amazon will display this name with all your submissions, including reviews and discussion posts. (Learn more)
Name:
Badge:
This badge will be assigned to you and will appear along with your name.
There was an error. Please try again.
Please see the full guidelines ">here.

Official Comment

As a representative of this product you can post one Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
The following name and badge will be shown with this comment:
 (edit name)
After clicking on the Post button you will be asked to create your public name, which will be shown with all your contributions.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.  Learn more
Otherwise, you can still post a regular comment on this review.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
 
System timed out

We were unable to verify whether you represent the product. Please try again later, or retry now. Otherwise you can post a regular comment.

Since you previously posted an Official Comment, this comment will appear in the comment section below. You also have the option to edit your Official Comment.   Learn more
The maximum number of Official Comments have been posted. This comment will appear in the comment section below.   Learn more
Prompts for sign-in
 


Review Details

Item

4.5 out of 5 stars (210 customer reviews)
5 star:
 (138)
4 star:
 (46)
3 star:
 (18)
2 star:
 (5)
1 star:
 (3)
 
 
 
Used & New from: £0.01
Add to wishlist
Reviewer


Location: Thailand

Top Reviewer Ranking: 1,730