Top critical review
Good subject, poor execution
on 19 March 2012
The idea of exploring the Roman navy is worthwhile, and the creation of that navy is obviously a good place to start - on an unfamiliar element, facing an expert and equally strong foe, with a nerve-wracking deadline to meet, all is set for a strong storyline. Sadly, the writing does not match the possibilities; if Scarrow and O'Brian are the Premier League, then this novelist is middle level Ryman League.
Having said that, such teams can achieve promotion; what is needed here is a lot more research and a decent editor. The latter could have emphasised the need for characterisation and cut some of the major infelicities ("indeterminately" is probably the worst of far too many), while evening the pace - other reviewers have commented on the rushed ending. Research, of the sort even we amateurs expect, would have avoided the major errors in shipbuilding techniques, the use of slaves at this period, the substitution of Praetorians (vowed to the protection of the _Senate_, for heaven's sake!) for lictors, the introduction of lorica segmentata some three centuries early, etc., etc., etc.
I won't bore you with an exhaustive list of factual mistakes, but they were there and need to be corrected if this series is to go anywhere. Given the historical situation John Stack could still gain promotion, but he has a lot of work to do first.