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VINE VOICEon 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.
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 6 May 2012
If you are looking for a piece of historical fiction that is also part thriller and part adventure story, then look no further: Anthony Riches has done it again in this fourth installment of his "Empire" series. Since he mentions his intention to write on through top the end of the regin of Septimius Severus (in AD 211) and the book takes place in AD 182, readers can probably expect another dozen book over the next few years. The book is a superb read, one of those that readers would be adviased to start on a Friday evening only, or, even better, on a Saturday or Sunday morning with nothing else planned for the rest of the day. Otherwise, you'll finish it around 2 or 3 am while having to go to work the next day.

Having said that, the book is not quite perfect (although you could just as well argue that no book ever is!). I, possibly like a few other reviewers, hesitated between four and five stars. I went for the latter for a number of reasons.
- However much I might quibble about the story - I found out rather early on who the "nasty" was - it is well written, with something happening every 20-30 pages or so and it also includes a few "hed herrings". There is simply no way a reader will be bored here
- It is also very well researched, with an interesting emphasis on the plague (or rather the series of plagues) that hit the Roman Empire during Marcus Aurelius' reign and under Comodus and its dire consequences in terms of population and financial and economival resources. Another very interesting point is that it also lead to wide-scale banditry within the empire. This could disrupt the army's provisioning and create major issues especially since the legions and cohorts wedre still mostly stationed along the borders.
- A related point is Anthony's historical notes: accurate and to the point, neither too much, nor too little. This is particularly true when presenting the Roman army of the second half of the second century. For instance, the size for the whole Roman army that he comes up with has been subject to controversies among historians for at least 50 years or so. However, the estimates that he has chosen happen to be the most widely accepted ones and the same goes, more or less, for the size and organization of the imperial legions and auxiliary cohorts
- At times, you still get the impression that Marcus Aquila - our blue-eyed boy hero - is a bit of a "superman", but less than in the previous volume. For instance, Marcus is not entirely sympathetic - he has a bit of a killer instinct in him and seems to enjoy it at times. He is also rash enough to get himself into serious trouble, and the fact that he manages to get out of it might feel a bit implausible to some.
- Another huge quality of this book, in my view, is that you can read it without having already gone through the previous episodes, which is not so frequent in series. Note however that if you do this, I have little doubt that you will want to pounce on the three previous volumes as well.

So, not a perfect book - assuming there is such a thing - but I enjloyed it so much that whatever little quibbles I can think of sound rather petty. Note that even the editing is much better than what you find in most other comparable novels. A Gem...
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on 8 April 2017
This series is amongst the best in the genre right up there with Scarrow and Kane. Characters are great as is the storyline full of action. Great read
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on 20 July 2017
another great episode in this totally thrilling story and the intrigue carries on great!
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on 28 March 2017
A great series and a good read.
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on 11 June 2017
Bought as present and they liked it.
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on 12 June 2017
Good read at a good price.
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on 20 February 2015
Superb. Antony Riches is superb at this sort of stuff. Great service on delivery.
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on 12 April 2017
Very good read
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on 22 April 2017
Great read !
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