Friday, December 14, 2012

Book Review - Legionary (JS)

Legionary by Gordon Doherty
(Review by Jacqui Slaney)
I am very fond of books about the Roman Empire, particularly those focusing on the armies. I have read the majority of Simon Scarrow books, all of which I have found excellent. This was a new author to me, but as the description sounded interesting and the price on the Kindle very cheap, so thought I would risk it.
The Roman Empire is crumbling, and a shadow looms in the east…

376 AD: the Eastern Roman Empire is alone against the tide of barbarians swelling on her borders. Emperor Valens juggles the paltry border defences to stave off invasion from the Goths north of the Danube. Meanwhile, in Constantinople, a pact between faith and politics spawns a lethal plot that will bring the dark and massive hordes from the east crashing down on these struggling borders.
The fates conspire to see Numerius Vitellius Pavo, enslaved as a boy after the death of his legionary father, thrust into the limitanei, the border legions, just before they are sent to recapture the long-lost eastern Kingdom of Bosporus. He is cast into the jaws of this plot, so twisted that the survival of the entire Roman world hangs in the balance
The initial story line does sound familiar a young boy is orphaned and sold into slavery to a cruel master. A meeting between his owner and an old woman in the market place however saves Pavo’s life and after a rather bloody event sees him being freed and given entry to the Roman legions where the reader follows him through his training and eventually out into the field of battle.
I really enjoyed the writing, this is a first book from the author, but the writing is excellent, with some good characters who in a short time, take on a life and become real for the reader.
There is plenty of quite brutal action but it is handled well, and twists and turns showing all the intrigue and plotting you would expect from the wealthy of Rome.
 The points of view change through the book, which is a good tool for keeping a readers interest, though it can be confusing. In this book though as the characters are clearly individual it causes no problem so you can jump from Pavo to the Emperor Valens back to the Centurion Gallus with no scratching of the head wondering what is going on.
This is not a tomb of a book but it is long enough for the reader to get engaged with the story. The chapters are quite short, so you get into a habit of thinking , just one more and then I will put it down, and  four chapters later, you are still reading, this to me is a sign of a good book.
This is a first in a series, and though it is also a first novel, I would definitely recommend this one and I will be looking for the next one.
8 out of 10       

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