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Holes in the wall,
This review is from: Hadrian's Wall (Hardcover)
Set in AD 368, this is the tale of the investigation of Drago (a Roman inspector) into the mysterious disappearance of a young, beautiful Roman bride called Valeria who arrived in Britain to marry Tribune Marcus Flavius. Interrogating her slaves and various others who knew her, Drago hopes to be able to piece together what actually happened, and whilst at first this might seem an intriguing story, it falls flat for a number of reasons.
Firstly, there are hardly any likable characters in the book. The heroine Valeria is a spoilt, thoughtless, self-centered creature whose disappearance causes seemingly little discomfort to her priggish, dull husband. Her lover Arden Caratacus is one-dimensional, the villian Galba is boorish and implausible and the plot line lacks creditablity. For example, Valeria runs off in the night to warn her youthful admirer Clodius that he is being set up by Galba. Why not just send a message by a trusted slave ? How come she and her maid can speak fluent Celtic in a matter of days ? Would a well brought-up Roman lady adapt and prefer the rough tribal way of life so soon ?
The author also has Asa, (Valeria's Celtic love rival) compare someone to a lizard ! Lizards in Scotland ! The slave Odo is introduced and quickly disguarded as though the writer changed his mind half way through. Little feeling for the Roman military life is conveyed and the ending is lack-lustre.
On the plus side, the feeling of disintergration of the old Roman way of life is conveyed well, and the physical discriptions of the land round the Wall are good. In addition, the scenes with Drago and his prisoners have an vividness and a better quality of writing than the rest of the novel. However, Simon Scarrow, Linsay Davis and the other Roman mysery authors can rest assured that their readers won't be deserting them in the near future for this effort.