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on 29 August 2017
5th in the series,Jackson does it again has a good fascination of life in Rome
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on 21 May 2017
Plenty of action as usual
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on 11 September 2015
up to his usual high standards a good book to enjoy.
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on 18 October 2014
This series just get's better and better. Mr Jackson is without doubt walking away with this genres accolades for me, and I read most of the Roman legion sagas on the go and there are a lot of them around.
His earlier books Caligula and Claudius were amazing works,although Caligula is the stuff of nightmares, I found that a highly disturbing and frightening depiction [no doubt totally justifiable] account of Caligula..then The Verrens series started and this has gone from strength to strength. I often find that protracted series start getting stale but that is certainly not the case here. Characterizations are excellent and the authors historian background certainly shows in his depiction of Rome at the time. If this is your genre and you've been living under a rock for the last 10 years and not read Douglas Jacksons work, give yourself a litary feast and read these from the start. An amazing story...with more to come.
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on 13 December 2014
Haven't finished it yet.
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on 22 November 2014
Douglas Jackson at his best
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on 9 December 2014
I have been a great fan of the Verrens novels. However this one smacked of a story that had run its course. The plot was thin and seemed to be constantly looking for ways to prolong the story which finished with a whimper. OK I finished it, but that was only based on the previous books thinking that it must get going soon - but it didn't. Super disappointing. Don't think I will be buying book 6 which is a shame as books 1-4 were cracking reads.
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on 8 October 2017
Well, I guess as usual, he covers an awful lot of ground in Volume 5 which deals with The Year of the Four Emperors.
A few more maps might have helped as our hero switches side with bewildering frequency. I know Northern Italy quite well but was occasionally confused as to whether I was facing East or West.
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on 17 September 2017
These books are a great series of Gaius Valerius Verrens taking him through history and adventures.
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on 25 September 2014
Valerius Verrens is back, guys, and back with a bang! Those of you who are following the series will remember that book 4 (Sword of Rome) had ended in something of a cliffhanger, as though the book hadn’t ended but rather hit an advert break. Well ‘Enemy’ picks up seamlessly where ‘Sword’ left off, continuing to tell the story of the Year of the Four Emperors from Verrens’ point of view.

In my review of book 4 I analogised the plot with a pinball machine, Verrens being twanged and shot back and forth betweem protagonists and antagonists almost against his will, necessity and honour requiring that he surrender himself to his fate.

Well I would say that book 5 follows suit, but it wouldn’t be a fair analogy. For unlike the ordered, almost Machiavellian maoeuvering of the previous book, Enemy of Rome picks up the pace and feels more like Verrens is a stick caught in the current of a fast flowing river as it plummets over a fall. He keeps hitting rocks and getting caught in eddies, and all the time moves closer and closer to the precipice.

That’s the feeling. Doug continues to tell the story of one of Rome’s most fateful years with style and vision. Indeed, I found in this book something of the same world-changing prose that created the infamous ‘temple scene’ of book 1 that remains one of my favourite pieces of writing of all time. You see Doug tackles something not many people can write convincingly: a night battle. Oh it’s easy enough to write the mechanical aspect of such an event. But few people can convey the panic, the confusion and the dread involved in it. Doug has done that in spades. The battle scenes in this are masterpieces, and none more so than the night fight.

But enemy of Rome is more than a string of battle scenes. As I noted with my stick and current analogy, Verrens does not often get to play the same role for very long: prisoner, general, negotiator, spy, protector, besieger. Verrens plays his part in the wars that we knew were coming between Vitellius and the rising star of the era: Vespasian. But he will also play his part in the intrigues in Rome, where camps are polarising and the streets are unsafe, while the woman he loves is forced to play a careful game in the house of Vespasian’s brother, for that same house plays host to the vile Domitian.

I think probably the only problem I ever have with these books is that my view of Domitian sits at odds with Doug’s. I see him as a somewhat withdrawn and antisocial character, but an able administrator and a man with sense who was handed the reins of a runaway empire and managed to bring it to a halt. But then every good novel needs antagonists, and Domitian certainly fits the bill with the Verrens series. He is certainly a loathesome character in these books. But praise due in a similar vein for changing my view of another historical figure. My picture of Aulus Vitellius has always been drawn from the views of his opponents and successors, and the picture Doug paints of him is a truly sympathetic one that tugs at the heartstrings. Bravo Doug for your Vitellius.

The story rockets towards the conclusion, which is every bit as exciting and tense as a reader of Doug’s work has come to expect, all the time keeping the flavour and the plot alive, and even leaving time for the characters to grow as it progresses. And what of the end? Well obviously I won’t ruin things for you. No spoilers. But suffice it to say that unlike the cliffhanger of book 4, this book has something of a game-changing ending that might see book 6 when it arrives being something of a departure. I’m certainly looking forward to it, anyway.

In short, then, this novel is a strong component in the continual growth of the Valerius Verrens series and really will not let you down. Full of tension and fury, tortured honour, impossible love and dreadful inevitability, it will keep you riveted til the very end.

Read the book, folks.
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