Learn more Download now Shop now Learn more Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Learn More Shop now Shop now Learn more Shop Fire Shop Kindle New Album - Tom Chaplin Learn more Shop Women's Shop Men's

on 22 April 2017
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 14 December 2013
Having received book 3 in this series as a present earlier this year, I found that I liked it that much that I decided to get the rest of the books in this series.
So far I have Nos; 1, 2, 3, & 4.
This book was purchased as I prefer to read hard-back books, rather than paper-backs. It arrived in very good condition and very quick postage time too.
Very happy with purchase and would recommend this to anyone.
0Comment| One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 14 May 2013
A well researched and written novel. If you enjoy Roman period fiction by such authors as Simon Scarrow and Harry Sidebottom you will enjoy this.
0Comment| One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
TOP 500 REVIEWERon 25 September 2011
The topic itself - the beginnings of the Jewish revolt - is somewhat original and interesting. The way the author lays it out is even more so, with Saulos (our St Paul, but here portrayed as the arch-villain, something of an Ancient times anarchist!) stirring up trouble in a rather compulsive way. Manda Scott's research is excellent, whatever you might think about her interpretations about early Christians, with Jesus equated to Judas and portrayed as the chief of a terrorist sect. One point that does come across clearly is that, in the eyes of many Roman officials at least, the Jewish factions were troublemakers breaking the Roman peace or even what we might call "terrorists" today. This was also the point of view of Herod and his successors who were also seen as usurpers (they weren't even of Jewish descent) and collaborators by their suibjects, having accepted Roman rule (although there is probably little they could have to oppose it openly).

The characters are, as usual, interesting and well presented. I do have three (somewhat minor) issues, however.

One is about Pantera siding with Menachem and attacking the fortress of Massada, garrisoned by an eline cohort of Roman legionaries, so that the Jews can get their hands on arms and armour. A Roman, secret agent of the Emperor, seems a bit unlikely to go that far. Is this even plausible?

The other is that they in fact manage to storm the fortress, against all odds, including numbers (about 100 lightly armed sicaires against a cohort of 500 heavily armed and elite legionaries). This does not seem very plausible either and a bit more explanations here might have been necessary as to whether something like this really happening. My last issue is the ease with which Ikshara changes sides. I won't say more because I don't want to spoil the plot for anyone.

Well worth reading and I'll certainly buy the next installment. Four stars for me, given my little issues.
0Comment| One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
TOP 500 REVIEWERon 7 February 2013
I'll read just about any book, as long as it is well written. But unfortunately, I just couldn't immerse myself in this book at all. The subject is interesting, the characters are fine, I think the problem for me really was the language - it seemed really overblown, slightly cheesy and over the top. The Roman Empire during the reign of Nero is a fascinating time and place, and Nero himself a complex figure of contradictions. But this novel introduces characters that I just couldn't really empathise with, in situations that seemed really exaggerated, and written about in a way that just really grated on me. I'm sorry that I didn't like the book, and I appreciate that others do. Just not my cup of tea overall.
0Comment| 2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 20 August 2012
Rome: The Emperor's Spy is a hard book to categorise. Part thriller, part action adventure, part religious diatribe, I finally put it down as a good read that will be too controversial for some, too complex for others, while some will thoroughly enjoy it.

Read purely as an entertainment, I found the book to be pretty good. The characters have their own personalities and motivations, pantera (the main character) is particularly well drawn and the Emperor Nero gets a better take than the normally Byron-esque version we see - 'mad, bad and dangerous to know'. Of course, as soon as you hear Nero, you think of Rome burning, and that is indeed the climax to this book - not giving anything away there, as this is plainly going to be the ending from very early on. It's not the fire itself that is the real thrust of this book though, but the way in which the characters are brought to it in spite of their efforts to stop it happening or make it happen. This is where the main villain, Saulos, comes in. The leader of a Christian sect who need Rome to burn to fulfill a prophecy, Saulos is better known to us as St Paul, and this is where some people will find their tastes challenged.

If you're terribly religious, I wouldn't recommend this book - St Paul isn't the pnly problem you're going to have. For anyone else who likes a complicated plot, good characters and a book that grips like a free climber going up a sheer rock face, you could do a heck of a lot worse than spending your hard-earned dinarii on this.
0Comment| 24 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 5 March 2011
I discovered M. C. Scott when I read one of the books in her Boudica series and found myself immediately hooked. She's one of those authors who delivers every time and leaves you feeling sad when you get to the end of the book because you have been so engrossed in the world she portrays. I read them really quickly because they're hard to put down but have to slow myself down towards the end so that it doesn't end too soon.
In 'Rome: The Emperor's Spy' we get a little bit of everything; intrigue, suspense, love, loyalty and passion. We follow the story of Sebastos Pantera, the son of a Roman soldier who works as a spy. He has been asked by Nero to investigate the prophecy that tells of Rome being burnt to the ground and to stop it coming to fruition.
As ever in her books we are introduced to many varied and interesting characters, some of whom will be familiar to readers of the Boudica series, although anybody who has yet to read the others wont be at a disadvantage. Scott writes her characters in such a way that makes the reader care about what happens to them, even the less likeable ones. Her male characters have depth and vulnerability and one of the things I love about Scott's writing is the way she portrays her female characters. Quite often in historical novels the women are just bystanders, or emotionally/physically weak but not in these books.
Apart from the fascinating view of day to day life during the times we are reading about, there are also some beautifully written insights into the different relationships that occur both between characters of the opposite sex and of the same sex.
We're offered an alternative view of the story of St. Paul and also of Nero and I came away from the book wanting to know more.
Scott is a really good story teller and I look forward to reading more. I originally borrowed this book from the library but then had to buy it as, like with her other books, it's the kind of book that can be read over and over with the reader getting something more from it each time.
0Comment| 4 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 1 August 2013
This book raised some interesting theories on the origin of Christianity, and as can be expected from Manda, you aren't reading a book, you're watching the events as they happen. I loved the Boudicca dreaming books, but I feel that this (& no doubt the sequels which I have yet to read) are even more accomplished. somehow they are easier to read - but not 'an easy read' - and became totally immersed.
0Comment| 3 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 13 January 2010
As a child in the first century AD, Sebastos Abdes Pantera, son of a Roman auxiliary soldier, witnesses an anti-Roman Judean rebel being taken alive from a tomb in Jerusalem. Decades later we meet Pantera again as he arrives in Coriallum (modern Cherbourg) after a stint as a spy in Britannia, during which he went native in the turmoil of the Boudican revolt. No sooner has he landed than he's recruited by the Emperor Nero to discover the missing details of a prophecy that Rome will burn - and then stop it happening.

Sweeping through three contrasting and vividly imagined parts of the Roman Empire - Gaul, Alexandria and finally Rome itself - this epic historical thriller is ablaze with intrigue, treachery, murder and chariot-racing, and is peopled by characters of a depth and complexity not often found in this genre. Some of the characters are from Scott's Boudica series, which will please fans of these novels but won't, I'm sure, disadvantage those who haven't read them. Integral to the plot is an unorthodox take on St Paul (as he then wasn't) and the beginnings of Christianity. I've no idea how plausible this theory is, but it works in the context of the story and the author provides a copious note on the matter for those who want to pursue it.

"Rome: The Emperor's Spy" marks a welcome return to the punchy style of Scott's contemporary crime novels. The vigorous, well-paced story is satisfyingly wound up, yet there's enough in the way of loose ends and unfinished business to make this reader look forward to the next in the series.
0Comment| 30 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 28 September 2016
Not having read the first in the series, Rome:The Coming of the King works well as a standalone action-thriller. I was impressed with Scott's wonderful command of language, with her compelling characters and ever-exciting twists and turns of fate. The setting is authentically Roman, and she knows her subject very well: none of the period touches jarred, except as outlined below. There is plenty of needless and unapologetic killing, which is not to my taste but will probably find favour with readers of other Roman action series with Hollywood body-count obsessions (I usually stick to Harry Sidebottom, Lindsey Davis and Steven Saylor in the Roman genre).

On the downside (with some spoilers) there were a couple of jarring plot devices or events which seemed glaring beyond redemption: most stories do not jar for me, so I think I do need to mention these. Foremost is the taking of Masada: 100 lightly armed (mostly) civilians dressed only in tunics would never have bested 500 legionary veterans, most of whom would have had time to don armour and shields that would have made them practically invulnerable to stabbing or slashing weapons aimed above waist height. Impossible. Masada fell to Menachem but certainly not with this balance of forces. And if victory by the 100 against 500 wasn't unbelieveable enough, the body count was 25 civilians in tunics to 487 veteran soldiers! Also jarring was the complete absence in Masada of servants and admin staff etc. Roman legionaries, and especially officers, had personal slaves who traveled with them, and the fortress would have had its own staff.

Secondly the main villain burned Rome - he would surely have been declared public enemy number one and rewards offered for his capture. Instead he turns up in the East and starts giving orders and a king, governor and local authorities obey him without question completely unaware he is a deranged agitator and arsonist wanted by the central government.

The Romans as other ancient (and modern) peoples were certainly guilty of atrocities when riled, but there was also a general preamble that the vanquished were to be spared (immediate death at least). Prisoners were generally treated better than in medieval times, when they were killed outright if not worth ransom. With this in mind the novel's massacres at Sepphoris and Caesarea are overstated for the former and invented as a plot device for the latter. It also jarred that the Royal Family fled Caesarea with a section of the city guard because the city guard would not have been able to keep them safe from rioters, but what was left of the city guard is able to go out and massacre half the population.

Enough criticism! It's a good book. Read it!
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse