Wounds of Honour: Empire I (Empire series) Paperback – 4 Mar 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)
A damn fine read . . . fast-paced, action-packed. (Ben Kane)
Stands head and shoulders above a crowded field . . . . real, live characters act out their battles on the northern borders with an accuracy of detail and depth of raw emotion that is a rare combination. (Manda Scott)
His plots bristle with emotion, realism and electrifying tensions, his multi-layered characters open doors onto the fascinating everyday life of the Roman army and the sense of adventure that underpins the whole series makes each book a fresh source of excitement and enjoyment. Riches knows his stuff and boy does it show . . . While Marcus, his cohorts and the Empire series grow in stature, readers await the next instalment of this challenging and entertaining tour-de-force with a sense of heightened anticipation . . . and armed, of course, with the confidence that once again the 'master of Rome' will not disappoint. (Lancashire Evening Post)
Thrilling, authentic and action-packed, this novel introduces soldier hero Marcus Valerius: a centurion stationed on Hadrian's Wall in the second century during a revolt against the Roman EmpireSee all Product description
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Wile clearly part of a series, Tony's first three Empire books are different. To me they follow on so closely and seamlessly that the series so far could easily be seen as one huge story spread over three books with appropriate pauses between releases. The stories are readable independently, for sure, but the best will be got from them by reading them one after the other. Quite simply, you can't read one book of this series without wanting to go on with the story. In order to get the best from the story, you need to read them all, and for the best possible results, I would suggest back-to-back.
A second thing that I would say that concerns each of Tony's works is what I consider his greatest strength as an author: The gritty military reality of his tale-telling. I have spent some time in my life, in a civilian situation but alongside men of military units, and there is something so authentic about Tony's characterisation that it felt truly familiar and real. You will find it hard to disbelieve anything about Tony's depiction of the legions, auxiliary troopers, the cavalry, their structure, style, attitude and actions. While no one can confirm exactly how soldiers then spoke and acted, it's hard to believe they were any different from the modern military and Tony has made these ancient soldiers understandable and relevant to the modern reader.
I feel that it is better for me to review the series as a whole, which I have given an appropriate 5 stars of 5, and then add a short section on the individual novel. I find it almost impossible to put down Tony's books and eagerly await the Leopard Sword to see what new direction the series might take.
Wounds of honour is a wonderful beginning, introducing a number of characters that you will love and that will go through the series with you.
From the protagonist, a fugitive from Imperial justice who will continue to take your breath away in exciting and violent ways as each new talent of his becomes apparent, to the grim centurions who have served long on the frontier, to the oily son of a Roman aristocrat seeking the hero's downfall, the story takes place against a background of violent war and tribal pride, beleaguered forts and inter-unit rivalries, and centres around a 'training of mistfits' theme that is both exciting and humourous at times. The book has a solid and exciting concusion while clearly not finishing the whole story. Wounds of Honour introduces the reader to life on Hadrian's Wall in an era of troubles, to the auxiliary units that serve there and, in particular, to the First Tungrian cohort, who will become central to the series.
As a fan of the genre `Wounds' had everything I need to keep me entertained; action, story and character. The book did feel like a deliberate first book in a series as it is open ended and not as much happens as could have. I also felt that although authentic there was a lot of homophobic ranting by the various warrior types. This would not normally bother me if it was in keeping with the times, but it cropped up enough to be too noticeable. Despite these misgivings they are small factors in what is overall a very good book that entertained me and promises to be a fun trilogy that I will be sure to read.
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