Sunday 24 January 2016

Battle for Rome (Twilight of Empire III) - Ian Ross

The Roman Empire is on the brink of civil war. Only Maxentius, tyrant of Rome, stands between the emperor Constantine and supreme power in the west.
Aurelius Castus, promoted from the ranks for valour and loyalty, is now a tribune in Constantine's army. But great honour brings new challenges: Castus is tormented by suspicions that his aristocratic wife, the mother of his child, has been unfaithful. And as Constantine becomes increasingly devoted to Christianity, Castus is forced to ask himself whether he is backing the wrong man.
All know that the coming war will decide the fate of empire. But Castus's own battle will carry him much further - into the shadowy realms of treachery at the heart of Rome itself.
The third book in the brilliant Twilight of Empire.

What did I think?

I've always enjoyed historical fiction and as a lover of Roman history, it's quite surprising that I've never read any Roman historical fiction.  I don't usually like to start reading mid-way through a series but I enjoyed this book so much that I don't think it was a necessity to read books 1 and 2 first.  I'm sure it would enhance the story by reading them in order, but Battle for Rome was immensely enjoyable as a standalone novel.

Castus is a very strong character - he commands the page as he does his army.  Although the book has a lot of fighting in it, and it's no surprise given the title of Battle for Rome, there is the human element of Castus and Sabina's marriage.  As Castus has been fighting across the Roman Empire, it has clearly left a strain on his marriage.  Has Sabina started to look elsewhere for comfort or has Castus' absence left her weak to corruption?

The only time I felt that I was missing something by not having read the earlier books was when Nigrinus was introduced.  I felt that there was some history between Castus and Nigrinus as they clearly detest each other, but there is so much treachery and backstabbing that nobody can be trusted.  I really enjoyed part 3 of the book when Castus is forced to work with Nigrinus and goes on a mission to Rome.  There were plenty of shocks and surprises in store to keep my heart racing.

Ian Ross has written a masterpiece that effortlessly transports the reader from the comfort of their home in 2015 to the Roman Empire in 312AD.  Every clash of sword and shield resounds from each page and, through Ian's descriptive writing, I could almost smell the blood and sweat of the Roman army.  This book has everything you would expect from a Roman epic - there is the opulence and splendour of Rome, power and riches of senators, madness of emperors and the brutality of battle.  I absolutely raced through it and definitely want to read the two earlier books in the series.

Special thanks go to Suzanne from Head of Zeus for sending me a treasured signed copy in exchange for an honest review.

My rating:

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