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Worthy addition to a great series
on 30 April 2012
The Leopard Sword is the fourth in the Empire series. The first three were set on Hadrian's Wall with young Centurion Marcus Tribulus Corvus hiding under an assumed name, escaping the politics of Rome. The books centred on his adventures on the Wall and the barbarians beyond, while finding his home in the camaraderie of his Legion colleagues. Very entertaining they were too, but Anthony Riches was wise enough to realise he needed to throw something fresh into the series, and indeed he has.
The Leopard Sword sees Marcus and his colleagues being sent to their original home, Tungrorum in Germania. Their role is to protect the town from bandits and ensure the supply routes for grain are kept open. On arrival they find the bandits have been united by a mysterious masked leader, and nothing is what it seems at first sight.
Of course it roars along at a great pace and sucks you in straight away, the signs of a great story-teller and with a great cast of characters. The author is clever enough to spread the story a bit and it works really well, Marcus is in there but he is not the main focus. I have to say my favourite character is probably the Tribune, Scaurus. A clever and multi-layered character, but that is true of many of the individuals in here, and the author finely balances the story around them.
So, much to enjoy here and a welcome addition to a series that dares to grow and challenge the reader.