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The Legate's Daughter: A Novel Hardcover – 8 Jul 2004

4.1 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 296 pages
  • Publisher: W&N; New edition edition (8 July 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0297848801
  • ISBN-13: 978-0297848806
  • Product Dimensions: 16.5 x 2.8 x 24.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,331,082 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Book Description

Historical fiction of a high order. A gripping story of kidnap, piracy and rescue in the Ancient World.

About the Author

Wallace Breem was born in 1926 and educated at Westminster School. In 1944 he entered the Indian Army Officers' Training School and later joined a crack regiment of the North West Frontier Force. After the war he took a number of temporary jobs, eventually joining the library staff of the Honourable Society of the Inner Temple.

By 1965 he had become the 11th Chief Librarian and Keeper of Manuscripts. He was a founder member of the British and Irish Association of Law Librarians. He served the organisation in a number of senior capacities from 1969 until his death in 1990, when the Association and the Inner Temple jointly set up a Memorial Award in his honour.


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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

By Tim62 VINE VOICE on 21 Sept. 2006
Format: Paperback
Sadly Wallace Breem wrote too few books. But of those he did write, this is one of my favourites.
It tells the story of man, an ex-centurion desperately adrift in Roman society, who can't keep a job, drinks and gambles too much, and is running out of money.
The he's handed a mission, but not just any mission.... Sound familiar? Sure, but in Breem's hands what could be hackneyed is wonderful.
Our hero is off on a mission to rescue a young woman kidnapped by pirates. But in fact the mission has greater significance.

It's a lovely tale and Breem deftly conjures up late first century Rome, with its rich aristocrats in their villas on the Palatine or Esquiline Hills and poor masses in the over-crowded tenements in the stinking slums of the Subura. If you love Roman history, do read this.
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Let me start of by saying that this is a very different book from 'Eagle in the snow'. Whereas the latter is more concerned with battle, courage and steadfastness against all odds, 'The Legate's daughter' is about diplomacy, deceit and intrigue in the last years of Augustus' reign, and about the relationships between men and women too.

In 'Eagle in the snow' the straightforward language also reflects the character of the men (there's few women in that book) figuring in the book: soldiers all, who mean what they say and say what they mean. Not so here: in 'The Legate's daughter' nothing is what it seems, and men and women speak in veiled terms, and as a reader you must really keep your wits about you to keep up with the story.

Having said that, this is without a shadow of a doubt a very fine historical novel, as was (is) 'Eagle in the snow'. It's so sad Breem never had the time to write some more!
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The Legate's Daughter by Wallace Breem is not as well known as his other major work 'Eagle in the Snow' but in my opinion is of equal quality and style although less of an action novel and more concerned with Roman values and intrigues and perhaps has been overshadowed by 'Eagle in the Snow' due to the popularity of Roman period action novels which dominate the genre. If you are looking for an all action, Legions versus barbarians novel this is not it.

It follows the experiences of a low rank public official who finds himself persuaded to journey to North Africa as an emmisary of a Roman noble family to negotiate the return of a kidnapped woman.

As usual Breem's historical background research is excellent and enlightens a part of the Roman world not often featured in historical fiction.

This is not a simple straightforward story, it has plot and counter plot and many readers may not find this a simple, fast read as the tale does require a degree of concentration as Breem keeps the reader as much in the dark as the hero of the story. The Legate's Daughter does, however, give a vivid portrayal of the politics and machinations of the Roman society.

In my opinion a much under rated work but probably one which gains with a second reading.
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Wallace Breem only wrote three books in his life. All of them are good and all are different with respect to the story line.

This story set in the 20 years of political upheavel after the death of Julius Ceaser is about a low status man (who works for the water board) who lives by his wits and is often in debt. His friends find out about a political plot involving the kidnap of a young Legates daughter from one of Rome's top families. One thing leads to another and he is recruited as an envoy to find the kidnapped woman. I cannot say more without ruining your enjoyment.

The story is very well written and will give you lots of enjoyment. Read the authors other books also.
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Format: Paperback
It's been a number of years since I read Breem's first class novel, Eagle in the Snow - EITS. That book ranks in my top five historical fiction novels, alongside titles such as The Lantern Bearers by Sutcliff, Hawk Quest by Lyndon and Tyrant by Cameron. While I didn't expect The Legate's Daughter to be as good as EITS - no one can maintain brilliance consistently - I did expect it to be better than it was.

It's the story of two individuals, Curtius Rufus and Criton, both men who for one reason or another, live near the bottom of the social scale. Breem paints wonderfully vibrant scenes of their existence in Rome - better than almost any other writer I can think of. Theirs is a world of innkeepers and shop owners, government officials, charioteers and slaves; the high and mighty appear from time to time, but only to reinforce Rufus' and Criton's feelings of helplessness in the face of overwhelming odds.

What's not to like then? Well, in a phrase, it's the lack of editing. Page after page of dialogue is wrecked by word repetition (two cases of 'endless' in the same paragraph is one instance) and the extreme overuse of adverbs. I'm no stranger to these words as an author, but when characters are, for example, saying 'lightly' and then within a sentence or two, saying 'bluntly', it all becomes too much. There was even one instance of a man inclining his head 'silently'.
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