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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 10 November 2011
Praetorian: Book 11 of the Macro & Cato series, always a winner, i think the only time i have struggled with one of these books was gladiator and that was just the one character in the book.

Legion saw a return to old school Macro and Cato and Simons best work, so would Praetorian keep up that momentum?

Yes and No: No because the book is different, the style not what you normally expect from Macro and Cato, more mature almost (the characters), with more intrigue and danger around every corner, never knowing who they can trust.

Yes because the book is excellent, the usual fast paced exciting writing with characters we know so well and can honestly care about. This is one of the best in this series.

The Intrigue in this book gives it more depth without losing the great camaraderie which grows and grows with every book, the intricacies of a relationship that has to change and evolve as changes in rank and relationship occur, as the young Cato matures and grows.

As usual with my reviews i wont touch on the story too much as i feel reviews should not contain plot and spoilers. But if you have not read Simon Scarrow before, yes you could read this as stand alone, (but i also encourage you to buy them from the start) if you enjoy historical fiction with pace, passion, great research and also reality in your characters then look no further, this tale unlike some of the others just has an extra dimension (the politics)

And at the end...well for those readers who follow the series...the boys are coming home...Whoo Hoo!! Im really looking forward to book 12.

Highly recommended book and series.
(Parm)
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on 10 November 2011
I have to admit it.I don't know if to be happy or sad.It took me just the first afternoon and evening i managed to be undisturbed, to end it up and i feel now as if i ran for it all the time.The book this time is so fast-paced and hooking that i have to protest Mr Scarrow,next time do something more boring please,a thing which can last a week at least
It struck me how the style of the narration this time was completely different and unexpected and nonetheless even more exciting than the past if possible.It's a more devious plotting story than i could have ever imagined.I stopped the reading many times just trying to understand how the plot could probably evolve,and i dare say no one will come up with "i got it at once".Really really a wonderful book.a sort of James Bond in nailed boots with the Liberators as the SPECTRE lurking at every corner.The part on the cloaca maxima or Great sewer as you prefer,is so vivid that it looked like playing at assassin creed brotherhood.I lived for some hours into the story,completely plunged into the story.I thought Legion was the peak of Simon Scaorrow.I was wrong.A beautiful diversion on the world of spy-stories without losing nothing about realism and the old good fightings.And a new Cato this time.Unexpected and tougher.My genuine compliments.
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VINE VOICEon 4 October 2012
Once again, Simon Scarrow pens another book starring his duo of heroes, Cato & Macro, who had to join the Praetorian Guard as lowly guardsmen in order to prevent the Emperor Claudius from being assassinated. These two Legionaries had forged a bond that has survived war, rebellion and torture, yet nothing had prepared them for a daunting mission on the deadliest and bloodiest battlefield of all: the bloody streets of Rome. It is AD 51 and traitors threaten to plunge the Roman Empire into bloody chaos. No one can be trusted. The Emperor ordered Cato and Macro to join the Praetorian Guard, his private bodyguard. Their deadly mission is to work undercover as ordinary Guardsmen and root out the traitors before Rome tears itself apart. As the true scale of the corruption dawns, they realise they are facing terrifying odds. Two men against many, in a desperate race to save, not only the Roman Empire, the Emperor Claudius, but each other as well...
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Cato and Macro are thrust back into the cut throat world of Rome in this, the latest outing for our heroic duo who as usual are up to their necks in the thick brown stuff as they're played on the chess board of Romes Political Machination by Narcissus. It's devious, has all the elements of a bygone Rome and of course, pitches the soldiers into a world that they're not really equipped for.

Finally add to this, great pace, cracking prose alongside a great heaping dollop of double dealing which leaves the reader sated by the books conclusion. If you want an Historical Fiction series that ticks all the boxes of Cornwell for the Roman period or even just a book to keep you tied over and happy for the seasonal period, they you really have to get this. Cracking entertainment with a massacre or two thrown in.
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on 21 January 2012
Praetorian sees a departure from the usual legionary capers for Macro and Cato as the two intrepid heroes return to Rome to work undercover as members of the Praetorian guard as they try to uncover a plot to undermine the Emperor, Claudius and bring his reign to an end.

Being a big fan of all Mr Scarrow's books, I was really looking to this story especially as it was going to be different. Although enjoyable, the pace of the storyline was a lot slower than usual and I thought there was less humour and cutting remarks especially by Macro that usually have me chuckling away to myself.

The picture created by the writing easily allows you to 'see' the environment where the two spies find themselves especially during their escapades in Rome's sewer system. There is also an unusual attempt on the Emperor's life but I won't spoil it for you in-case you intend to read the book.

Overall it's another good story and addition to the previous books and best of all, the boy's are returning to the legions and Britannia in the next instalment.
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I like Scarrow's well drawn and fleshed out characters, the chalk and cheese legionaries Cato and Macro and have been a fan since Under the Eagle. Scarrow's ability to richly describe the backbreaking and violent daily life of the Roman legionary is well done throughout the Eagle series and to this he now adds the complex political intrigue at the end of the reign of Claudius as well.

However, Scarrow hasn't let up on the blood and guts in this book. You can still hear the clash of sword on sword, the screams of the injured and dying, the smell of blood and sweat and the immediacy, proximity, desperation and tension of the fights. This is Scarrow at his descriptive best.

Rome is starving and the overt and covert infighting now taking place in the first family and their supporters in the Roman civil service is now coming to a head and this is one Narcissus will loose eventually to his rival Pallas. Cato and Macro need to get out and away from this and the resolution to Praetorian gives them the opportunity to escape the upcoming infighting that was synonymous with regime change, with the added bonus of Cato earning a `get out of jail' card from Nero along the way as well.

I can't wait for the next three or four books in the series, let alone book XII, as there is so much potential still to be tapped.

A welcome addition to the series, an enjoyable read.
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on 28 January 2012
I loved this book but then I like anything by this author. It might be a bit obvious at times but it describes everything so well that you can almost feel you are there. Some things maybe glossed over but it never stopped me from thoroughly enjoying every bit of it from beginning to end!!!
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on 8 December 2011
Life is never straight forward for our heroes Prefect Cato and Centurion Macro, as Narcissus-Imperial secretary and close adviser to Claudius,has them back undercover in Rome. This is the 10th outing for Cato and Macro and while they are not with the Legions they face just as much danger from their comrades in the Practorian Guard and those in the Imperial Palace who they suppose to protect. In a year when we have so many good Roman adventures,hear for me, the master show`s us why the standard is so high.If you have not read Scarrow before, then this is not a bad place to start and i bet it will not be long before you start on the other 10 adventures of Cato and Macro.
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on 18 January 2012
I am a big fan of Simon Scarrow's Eagle series and without giving away too much of the plot, I was initially a little worried that this book might be boring, being that its titled Praetorian and will be based in Rome rather than on the boundaries of Rome fighting the barbarian hordes. However my fears were wrong.

What Praetorian has to offer instead is the ability to keep you on your toes with the twists and turns of conspiracies that circle Rome and the imperial family. Scarrow does very well to keep you guessing who the real enemy is, as Macro and Cato are faced with enemies not on the otherside of a shield wall but from within their own ranks. And in this book, by the end, all is not what it seems.

Scarrow has always managed to write great battle scenes, giving you enough information to set the scene but not too much to bore you or prevent your imagination taking place. With Praetorian, Scarrow manages to cleverly interweave these battle scenes into the book to provide these essential scenes we love to see Cato and Macro in.

Throughout the book, you can't wait for the climax that is built up and when it comes you are not disappointed. By the end of the book, we are given insight into what bestows Cato and Macro and I have a feeling that the next book will be even greater.

I would say this book is unlike all the others in the series and some may be put off, however I thoroughly enjoyed it but I am also happy to see where Cato and Macro are going in the next book and I can't wait to read it.

Thanks Mr Scarrow
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 16 November 2011
Simon Scarrow has been true to form with book 11 of his series on two Roman officers during the reign of Emperor Claudius (first century CE). The story is well-written, fast-paced and gripping. Simon's historical research is top notch, as usual. Even some of the secondary characters, such as Praetorian tribune Burrus and Tigellinus are historical. The first indeed became Praetorian prefect and remained at that post during the first years of Nero's reign. The second replaced him and survived Nero, only to be killed the year after, during the "Year of the Four Emperors".

The twist of the book is that all of the action happens in Rome and it is more of a mix between a political thriller full of intrigue and plots and a spy story - no campaigns against "barbarians" somewhere on one of the borders this time! Simon has been doing this over the last few episodes, dropping campaigns in Britain for a episode against pirates in Illyria, then a couple of episodes in the East, also laced with conspirations that could threaten the Emperor, a slave revolt in Crete and an invasion of Egypt by the Nubians. The next hotspot, in this episode, is Rome and the aging Emperor whose life, reign and family seem threatened by all sides.

Two additional things make this book outstanding for me. One is the descriptions of Rome and of its inhabitants, which are not only historically accurate but also make the place and people almost come to life. The other is that Simon has managed to make us feel how gasthly it must have been to live in the Palace or among the senatorial class, with constant suspiçion and multiple plots to overthrow the Emperor (there were quite a few under Claudius). I particularly appreciated the character of Narcissus (I cannot say "liked", of course) because this is just how I imagine him to be as the Emperor's unofficial head of security: ruthless, cruel, devious, somewhat paranoïd (but surviving under such conditions made all of htem into paranoïds, more or less!) but devoted to the Emperor because his life depended on it.

One (very minor) grip perhaps: the book sometimes seems to hesitate between showing
Claudius as a half idiot, just like some of the previous episodes tended to do, and showing him as more intelligent than he looks. What it doesn't show is that Claudius was an extremely knowlegeable scholar (among many other things a historian of the Etruscans, who were the real ancestors of the Romans and NOT the Trojans). By and large, however, Simon seems to be more attracted to the portray of the idiot although Claudius was a survivor and very likely to have been more intelligent than he cared to show. It is also possible that his afflictions could mask this intelligence, especially to people who only had glimpses of him. What is sure, however, is that he did not at all cut an impressive figure and would all too easy to make fun of.

There are in fact two views of Claudius and this emperor remains a bit of an enigma to this day. One, largely propagated under Nero's reign, was that he was a a half-idiot and a cripple, who was chosen by the Praetorians just after his nephew Caligula had been murdered because they needed to put a pliable candidate on the throne in a hurry, before anyone else came up with one.

The other view can be found in Robert Grave's I, Claudius and Claudius the God, and is also shared by a number of modern historians: he did stammer (but so did a modern King of England, and that didn't make him into a bad monarch, did it?), he was a cripple and had a number of defects which could give a rather poor image of himself, especially if under stress. There is also a chance that he used these defects to ensure his survival during the reigns of his uncle Tiberius and his nephew Caligula at a time when little was needed to be purged and a relatively high number of members of the imperial family and of the Senate died in suspicious circumstances, starting with Claudius' own brother (Germanicus, father of Caligula).

A highly recommended book: buy it. You won't be able to drop it and, as you finish it, you'll already be asking for more of the same! At least I am...
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