It's a strange feeling when you have a friend who's a novelist, but when he writes such excellent works, it adds that extra something special, as well as pride in knowing who your friends are. This regards very much "Retribution", John Salter's second novel in his "Caratacus" series, and I am also proud of having a part in naming the title of the novel itself, especially given the quality of the novel, and the excellent research that went into it. The title "Retribution" in itself had in it a variety of tricks to play to keep the reader guessing. As time went along after reading Book 1, it became too obvious that Brenna was going to suffer revenge for the murder of Decimus - whether she did or not is for the reader to guess. Or was Caratacus going to wreak revenge on the Romans for invading his lands? At this point John wanted to get the reader to concentrate on what might happen there, but he also left the reader to find out something else, which I did. It was in the characters of both the leader of the Catevellauni himself and in Varro. It's easy to predict in black and white that Caradoc (Caratacus' Celtic name which I'll use from here onward) thought "Right, the Romans have taken my lands away and enslaved my people, etc, now it's revenge!" John goes much deeper than that. This particularly applies when one part of the story tells of Caradoc's character as a man of humility and honour, as opposed to a sadist who captures and burns fortresses and mansions, which was how the Romans wanted him to be portrayed. The same could be said of Varro, who decided to stay and face Caradoc's anger, rather than run away in the event of a Roman attack for which Varro wasn't to blame. This also shows that typical politicians didn't care about the consequences as to what was to happen to him - or anyone. To put it more simply (and going off the subject for a bit), regarding the Western films of the 40's and 50's - whereby the Indians were the "baddies" and the cowboys were the "goodies". The American Indians were known for how they looked after the vulnerable, and the Britons did exactly the same - the old, the very young, the sick or anyone else in a vulnerable position, always came first in the event of a crisis. This is John's unbiased way of portraying all the characters in "Retribution", whether Roman or Briton. Although there was a lot more plot in "Retribution" than "Blood of Rome", the historical facts of which "Retribution" was made certainly weren't lacking. But both complement each other. There are no particulars I can think of regarding this, but on the whole, "Retribution" certainly lived up to expectation and certainly didn't disappoint. John's knowledge of history in general shows very clearly in his works - new facts to learn from which in turn further inspires the plot in the story. I really look forward to Book 3, and the excellence in all of John's future works is guaranteed given his experience in this field. Well done John!
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