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4.6 out of 5 stars
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4.6 out of 5 stars
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 29 May 2011
I'll not paraphrase the praise that has been heaped on A. Riches for Fortress of Spears but will only make a few comments. First, it is relatively rare for the third installement in a series to be as good as the first two. For me at least, only Scarrow, Cornwell and Cameron have managed to do this. Second, one of the author's forte - which he almost overdoes at times - is his very realistic descriptions of the horrors of war. Somebody has compared him to the lamented Pressfield and there is something to it, although Gates of Fire - for me at least - is still a notch above. Nevertheless, it is superbly written but with a few cliches (the blue-eyed hero fighting gladiator-style with the two swords etc...), although these may be difficult to avoid. As another commentator mentioned, the frumentarii (a mix of secret service and imperial assassins) are depicted as having little choice than to carry out their orders and do their job. However, this is not entirely true since they also seem to take great pleasure in it...
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on 11 April 2017
The hill now known as Trapain in East Lothian was the setting for this story. The hoard of Roman silver found there can be seen in Edinburgh at the Museum of Scotland . Making a good follow up to this tale.
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on 4 January 2013
This being the third in the series and possibly the best so far, I found the characters an interesting bunch who worked well together. Anthony Riches knows how to put a story together and adds all the elements to keep the reader interested, with this book I feel he has shown his skills as a writer using his historical knowledge and inventive thought to create an entertaining read. Recommended!
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on 28 March 2017
A great series and a good read.
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on 13 May 2017
Bought as a gift
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on 1 May 2017
Absorbing
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on 12 May 2011
In the third book of the series, I think Anthony Riches has surpassed the previous books with the story and the first two were fantastic. The action comes thick, fast and quickly, as soon as you open the book and that's fast and there's little let up throughout in an intriguing story that gets better with each page. The bone crunching, blood letting and all out fury of ancient warfare is brought to life so vividly that you almost have to check yourself to make sure you haven't been splashed with blood or wounded whilst reading.

It isn't all smash and gore however, as Mr Riches combines those elements with a story that splits into different arcs where he introduces new characters, kills some off and has laugh out loud humour in certain things the characters say to each other or 'at each other'. Ultimately the story brings all tribal elements and Romans together for the final battle and a few issues that need to be dealt with at The Fortress of Spears.

Central to all this is Marcus Aquila, aka Centurion Corvus who has been taken refuge with the Tungrians after the murder of his father in Rome. As the Hyenas of the Praetorian Guard close in on Aquila and his allies on their mission to destroy him and those who have given him shelter, the book takes you way beyond Hadrian's Wall and deep into enemy territory where the hostile environment wears the soldiers down and those with Calgus are on home soil and work to eliminate those who are not indigenous to the region and some who are.

I won't spoil the story for those who want to read it with specific details but suffice to say, if you like a fascinating story that's authentic, action packed, full of humour, a torrid journey in a horrible environment and descriptive scenes that may make you wince, Fortress of Spears is a book for you as it was for me. Anthony Riches has without doubt ramped up every element in this book, buy it, you will not be disappointed.
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on 22 May 2015
Rattles along, some characters are quite endearing amidst the unrelenting violence. Some chapters are quite un-put-downable!.
reading on a Kindle is a drawback as I would love to flick back to re-read one or two characters and I would love to see sketches of the battle emplacements.
One day, Kindles will be history themselves and books will be back!
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on 20 February 2015
Can't beat this guy on Roman writting, superb. Great delivery service.
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This is the third book to feature Roman troops in the vicinity of Hadrian's Wall. An added complication to this series is Centurion Corvus who is hiding amongst them under a false name as he is under a death sentence as a result of politics back in Rome. Sent to Britain to be out of the way, his exploits keep bringing him back to the attention of those who want him dead.

So here we have a rather nasty team sent from Rome to capture him amongst the running battles with the local barbarians.

I enjoyed this as much as I enjoyed the previous two books, the author writes with an easy but compelling style and handles action and character very well. The `brotherhood' of the Roman troops, the banter, loyalty and affection is perfectly blended with the action and a sense of loss when characters we have grown fond of do not make it.

I think Anthony Riches is the equal at least of the other famous names in this genre and I incline towards the view that he is probably better, but that is down to personal taste. At the end of this book it looks like the troops might be heading for Germany and that's probably a good move, not many Brits actually left to crush! Were I to offer the author some gentle advice, it might be to park the fugitive aspect of his hero as the formula has been repeated (although very effectively) through three books and Mr Riches obviously has the talent to refresh the series with some new elements for us to enjoy.
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