Arrows of Fury: Empire II (Empire series) Paperback – 9 Dec 2010
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This is fast-paced and gripping "read-through-the-night" fiction, with marvellous characters and occasional moments of dark humour. Some authors are better historians than they are storytellers. Anthony Riches is brilliant at both. (Conn Iggulden)
Riches has captured how soldiers speak and act to a tee and he is very descriptive when it comes to the fighting. It is a novel full of power, lust, envy, violence and vanity. The very things that made Rome great and the very things that would lead to its downfall. If you like historical novels, read this book. (NavyNet on ARROWS OF FURY)
Ancient adventure at its pulsating best! . . . A military expert, Riches brings top-notch drama, vivid storytelling and historical realism to his tales set in a turbulent time. (Lancashire Evening Post on Arrows of Fury)
Cornwell, Iggulden, Smith - Beware. There is a new power on the rise. (www.bookgeeks.co.uk on Wounds of Honour)
'With Wounds of Honour Anthony Riches has produced a terrific first novel that focuses on the soldiers of the Roman Empire in great detail. He vibrantly portrays the life in an auxiliary unit.' (Canberra Times on Wound of Honour)
'An unputdownable read.' (Good Reading Magazine on Wounds of Honour)
The thrilling sequel to WOUNDS OF HONOUR continues this action-packed series set in Roman BritainSee all Product description
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Like a lot of people I found the first book in the series by accident on the shelves of Waterstones. It was sat there all alone and I'd never heard of the author. However, being a 'history geek' and after discovering it was about Roman Britain, I decided it was worth giving it the benefit of the doubt.
The first book in the series took Anthony Riches fourteen years to write (I believe) but he didnt have a deadline and was doing it for pleasure more than anything else and 'giving writing a go!' I saved reading that book for when I was on holiday in Scotland and found it 'kind of' enhanced the experience (being surrounded by the Mountains of the Highlands).
I couldnt put the first book down and enjoyed every page, the characters and the story. Being a history buff and especially of the Roman era and more importantly Roman Britain and Simon Scarrow etc etc, I was like a kid in a sweet shop when I discovered the subject matter and was even happier when I found that Mr Riches story telling was not only comparable to Mr Scarrow but had elements of real history included.
Considering that Anthony Riches had merely months to write the second in the series, he has done a masterful job and produced another winner in my opinion. Unlike some authors who gloss over the real aspects and fundamentally more important elements of the era, Riches gets down to brass tacks and doesnt 'fluff' up the story and tells it like we think it was.
Calgus the Britons Chieftan in the region who was victorious against a legion who he crushed and virtually destroyed, is looking to defeat the Romans and push them south. He allies himself with other tribes but defeating the invaders is not his only goal.
Centurion Corvus is attempting to keep a low profile in the wind swept and rain soaked north as he has been labelled an enemy of Rome by the Emperor. However, due to his leadership and tactical know how and his own ability fight man to man, he is quickly making a name for himself which attracts the more insideous side of certain soldiers who are supposed to be fighting with him.
Arrows of Fury is a no frills, edge of Empire, rain, dirt, fear engulfed, battle ridden, bravery soaked, full of conspiracies and traitors absorbed tail which are all included in a great second book in the series. I look forward in great anticipation the the next installment 10/10!
It is with this increase in scale that the book loses its way. I struggle to tell my Marcos from my Marcus, so having so many different characters means that I started to lose my bearings. It was not aided that there were so many notable Centurions in the mix, Centurion This and Centurion That. The expansive nature of the characters helped Riches explain the camaraderie of the troops and the brother like love they have for one another, but not knowing one person from another meant that conversations became taxing and deaths unrewarding - who was that again?
There are great moments in `Arrows', especially during the battle scenes. Riches has a keen eye for detail and the battles feel realistic and grim. I also liked the elements that remained concentrated on Marcus, these sections are more structured and give a narrative through line that is lost whenever Riches starts listening in on other soldiers' conversations. With a slightly clearer distinction between characters `Arrows' would have been a mini epic. As it is, it is a book full of great scenes, but stitched together by forgettable exchanges amongst characters I found hard to differentiate between.
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