Fortress of Spears by Anthony Riches
Review by Jacqui Slaney
I can see eyebrows raised at another review for this series. I put my hands up though; I cannot help reading them, as I find the series a bit addictive.
In the enthralling third volume of Empire, Anthony Riches takes the legions deep into north Britannia, where the survivors of the rebellion still hope for revenge.
The Romans have vanquished the rebel alliance, leaving Calgus, Lord of the Northern Tribes, and the prisoner of the chieftains he once led.
However, the new Roman leader will not let them rest. He forms an audacious plan to capture Dinpaladyr, the Selgovaes' fortress of spears, and return it to the hands of a trusted ally.
Marcus Aquila - burning for revenge on an enemy army that has killed one of his best friends - is part of the select group of infantry chosen to go north with the Petriana cavalry and take the fort before the rebel army can reach it. He believes his disguise as Centurion Corvus of the 2nd Tungrians is still holding.
However, he is just a few days ahead of two of the emperor's agents, sent from Rome to kill him. Pitiless assassins who know his real name, and too much about his friends.
I know I have said it before, but each book just keeps getting better and better. You do need to start from Book1; this is not a series that you can read in any order. Trust me though there are five books so far, and each book is a treat to read.
As in the other books, there is action and violence straight from the start in this instalment as Marcus has to face the loss of one of his friends in battle.
His reaction is believable as is that of his men who try to protect him even from himself, and there are some great moments especially when Marcus volunteers to join the Calvary for a special assignment.
In this story you have different sub plots going on, but these are clear as in each part you have different characters taking the lead, this is a tricky skill as some people only like to follow the story from one angle and jumping from place to place could be off putting to some readers. To be honest though, it adds to the tension, as the author gets to a point with one storyline then jumps to action that is going on elsewhere.
As in all these books, you have some villains that are good to hiss at, and in this story you have the two Roman officers hunting Marcus, killing as they go and threatening all that he has come to care for
The action scenes are as brutal as ever, especially with the descriptions of what is done to a captured soldier and the revenge of Martos, prince of the Votadini on those who killed his family.
Although it is good to have plenty of action, you could soon tire of this, but the writing is lightened by the humour between the soldiers and officers. This is excellent, and makes the writing come alive and can make you laugh; the weather forecasting is one such moment.
I have read some books where the technical detail is spot on but the characters are wooden and silted. In this series, you have excellent fighting scene and some of the best characters that you will find.
I would definitely recommend this book and the earlier books of the series, am now fighting a battle with myself not to read the next.
10 out of 10