This is the debut novel of Robert Fabbri, the first book about the life of Vespasian who was eventually involved in the invasion of Britain in AD43 and who later went onto to become Emperor. The book starts with his birth where sacrifices are made and great things are foreseen about the forthcoming life of the young man. The story then jumps to a fifteen year old youngster who is intent on looking after his parents farm and lands from raiders.
Robert Fabbri manages to create a great atmosphere surrounding Vespasians early days on the farm where he fights to protect his live stock from local thieves. When his elder brother Sabinus returns home from the legions they are instructed by their father to take their local freedmen and slaves and seek out the thieves and make an example of them, which they set off to do in the first action of the story.
As a result of their success their father (an ex soldier himself) takes them to Rome to meet their uncle with promises of serving the Empire, Sabinus in the mint and Vespasian as a young Tribune in the army. From the outset there is deceit and treachery especially for the younger brother who has to virtually fight his way out of Rome with the help of Magnus, a man used by his uncle when skulduggery occurs or is required.
After joining his legion, he is quickly in the midst of the action in Thrace where all isn't as it appears to be. There are set piece battles, torture and executions galore and a sense of humour that's very squaddie like, that adds to the sense of believability. Young Vespasian performs well throughout all these encounters and slowly becomes a respected thin stripe Tribune.
Robert Fabbri has produced a book of high quality with a story that makes you want to know what happens next at every twist and turn. His descriptions are vivid and realistic, the detail superb and the sense of humour great. It is apparent that Mr Fabbri knows his stuff and if you like Simon Scarrow, Ben Kane, Anthony Riches or Douglas Jackson, here's another author to look out for. This is a great start to a promising storyline and more excellent books.