Customer Review

1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The well is run dry, 29 Sept. 2012
This review is from: Praetorian: 11 (Roman Legion 11) (Paperback)
I suspect the well is running dry on this series for Simon Scarrow. It reads like a first draft that has had a cursory edit, a spelling and grammar check and then gotten banged out on the shelves because his loyal fans will buy it anyway. Poor man probably has a contract to produce one a year until his dotage.

The plot is paper thin and the characters are cardboard except for the two leads who are already formed. There are whole scenes that have no point to them whatsoever. I found myself irritated I had to read them in case there was something to it. An example, without spoilers, is a contrived scene where the Gladiators refuse to take part in a mock sea battle, organised to appease the mob and make them forget they are starving to death. The trigger to kick this off is just daft. The emporer is a bit drunk and says something casual. The Gladiators put a preposterous interpretation on it and decide to have a quick rebellion. They have a decent scrap in which Macro gets his sword nicely wet, and then it's back to the sea battle less a few Gladiators. Why??? It's contrived, artificial and adds nothing to the story except a thousand words or so and a fight. Perhaps that is the point. Maybe he has a word and fight budget to meet.

There are these strange laboured conversations, some in the middle of the action, as Scarrow tells us the story. Is it because he can't be bothered to put in the effort to show it? Then at the end, just like Poirot, he lays out the bits we've missed, perhaps in case we didn't get it, or maybe he couldn't be bothered to fix his plot holes having reached the end.

I wonder if Simon Scarrow is just tired of Macro and Cato. I won't be getting the next unless I hear it's really good.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 4 Oct 2012 12:53:36 BDT
Sorry you did not enjoy the book. I was pretty keen on this one and, like all the books in the series, I put a lot of time and effort into the research and planning the story. So, for the record, the gladiator scene was based on a real event which was caused by an off the cuff remark by Claudius. I suspect that there was more to it than that and the gladiators had been set up in some way. Without wanting to throw any plot spoilers in here I'll just say that the scene served to point the finger at one of the suspects of the ongoing investigation. Sorry if you missed that.

In reply to an earlier post on 18 Aug 2013 12:04:06 BDT
AlanP says:
I didn't notice that you have responded to my review, which was not complimentary. That's something not many authors would do and I believe is generally advised against. I was aware of the plot device you mention, but I still think the rebellion scene was baggage.

Your many fans still enjoy your Roman books, which is a good thing. I think I have just gone off them, but for some reason I still get them.
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