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on 4 May 2010
The only thing that confuses me about these books is.....why aren't more people reading them they're great and virtually as good as Simon Scarrow. The price of this book has dropped already!

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!
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on 12 March 2013
Rome and its Empire is an extremely ripe period of history to plunder for all your fictional needs; war, intrigue and action are all par for the course. Unfortunately, the popularity of the genre means that you have to lift your game as a writer to stand out from the crowd less you be drowned out by a thousand other voices. With `Arrows of Fury', the second in Anthony Riches `Empire' novels, there is a fear that this may happen and it is Riches' own doing. Set in 182 AD Britain along Hadrian's Wall, it surrounds the men tasked with subduing the revolting British tribes in the North of the country. Whilst book one revolved mainly around Marcus, a Roman aristocrat hiding in the army from his enemies, book 2 opens out to cover the entire cohort.

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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on 28 March 2017
A great series and a good read.
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on 1 May 2017
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on 22 June 2017
Brilliantly written. Lots of fact with a great story. Just started the next book!
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on 5 September 2017
Excellent read. Fast paced and action packed.
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on 24 April 2012
I've waited until I finished the third book in this series before posting a review of any of them, and for a particular reason. Most of the historical series I've read consist of a new separate story with each book, often defined by a narrator's pause or some such device. Most series are different stories with different themes that build a series.

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.

Book Two

Arrows of fury follows up perfectly from Wounds of honour, and takes the action to a new level, concentrating more this time on the war that was the impetus and background of the first book, the Tribal leader who has become the great antagonist of the Empire series and the campaigns of great leaders (and occasionally of chinless idiots.)

Alongside this great military campaign, we experience the machinations of wicked and stupid men and best of all heroics from the most unexpected quarters. The Hamian unit that are the reason for the book's name simply blew me away and made me reassess the importance of missile troops in the Roman military. I have come to love Qadir as a character. Arrows of fury doesn't just follow on from Wounds of Honour, but builds on it, introducing wonderful new characters and elements.
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on 28 June 2013
I love this series concentrating, as it does, on Rome's auxiliaries who did most of the work against enemies who caught on to the fact that taking a legion on head to head wasn't a good idea.
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on 28 January 2013
Great story line, found it very hard to put down (Or in this case turn off, Kindle User). Great mix of comedy and thriller, really exciting.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 30 August 2011
Having thoroughly enjoyed the first in Anthony Riches' Empire series, Wounds of Honour: v. 1 (Empire), I am delighted but not surprised that the second outing for Centurion Corvus and his brothers in arms is if anything even better.

The action, set in the 2nd century AD, still takes place on and around Hadrian's Wall but now we know that little bit more about Marcus `Two Knives' Corvus, Julius, Dubnus, Rufius, Felicia and the men of the 1st Tungrian Cohort. Chieftain Calgus continues to plot the demise of Roman rule on his land but this is not the only threat that young Corvus faces. Knowledge about his true identity is spreading amongst their rival cohort, the 2nd Tungrians, a situation which gets worse when the 2nd steals most of the replacements intended for the 1st, who were decimated during their heroic stand during the Battle of the Lost Eagle. Corvus' bravery wins over the new Prefect Scaurus, with whom the young centurion makes a pact.

Marcus Corvus also takes the risky military decision to work with the only replacements available, two cohorts of Syrian archers, the Hamians, led by Qadir, a very likeable addition to the series. As time goes by, and despite the jeers of the Tungrians and in spite of being so far from terrain and warfare that's familiar to them, the Hamians prove their honour. They don the armour, march at speed for miles until their feet bleed, and try to get to grips with the Roman spear (and the repartee that goes with it).

Throughout the Empire series, Anthony Riches' expertise and learning in everything Roman military shines through and this knowledge adds a detail and authenticity that is unique. Daily life as a Roman soldier - in camp and on the march, battle scenes, skirmishes, medicine and, not least, the dialogue between soldiers, rings true. This is demonstrated in the transformation of the Hamians, in the soldiers' code and in the action, which is jampacked throughout Arrows of Fury.

Not all of the Romans are good here - there is a very enjoyable baddie - and not all of the blue noses are bad. What matters is honour and valour and, if you have those, your origin is less important. After all, the Roman army, as we see here, was a right mix. Far away from the less than perfect influence of the emperor Commodus, the Tungrians fight their battles and make their own justice on the very edge of the empire. On now to Fortress of Spears: Empire III.
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