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The Siege (Agent of Rome #1)

3.88  ·  Rating Details  ·  260 Ratings  ·  34 Reviews
270 AD. Rome has ruled Syria for more than three centuries but now the weakened empire faces a desperate threat. Queen Zenobia of Palmyra has turned her Roman-trained army against her former masters and the once invincible legions have been crushed. Arabia, Palestine, and Egypt have fallen and now Antioch, Syria's capital, stands exposed.A young intelligence agent fresh fr ...more
Hardcover, 390 pages
Published October 1st 2011 by Hodder & Stoughton (first published July 21st 2011)
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Bookworm Sean
Feb 28, 2016 Bookworm Sean rated it it was amazing
Cassius Corbulo is a poor warrior; he is young and inexperienced. As an imperial security service agent, he expected to spend his service years behind a desk organising supplies. To the surprise of him, and the reader, he is thrust into the prestigious role of Centurion. His task is to organise the defence of Alauran, a stronghold in the Syrian dessert, and rein in its wayward defenders who have been leaderless for too long. The problem is he’s straight out of officer training and has never foug ...more
What stood out for me was the character growth of Cassius Corbulo, the young, sensitive, inexperienced Security man, leading the defense of a small garrison of Romans and Syrians pitted against an overwhelming force of Queen Zenobia's Palmyrans--270 A.D. The siege and climactic battle were very exciting and compare favorably with battle scenes in other novels. I'm very happy the author did not feel compelled to insert love interest, which to me would have been out of place here. I'm sure as the ...more
Eric Boot
Jun 06, 2015 Eric Boot rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
OK. Mijn eerste kennismaking met ‘Het Beleg’ begon zo: ik had boekenbonnen en die moesten weg! Dus ging ik naar de boekhandel, en zocht tussen de boeken naar één die ik niet kende. Toen bleef mijn blik hangen bij, jawel: ‘Het Beleg’. Leek me wel interesting, dus zonder boekenbonnen ging ik terug naar huis. Over het algemeen vind ik historische boeken niet super, maar mede doordat ik Klassieke Talen heb leek dit me wel leuk te proberen.

Het Beleg gaat over een jonge Romeinse legionair, Cassius, di
Aug 01, 2012 Justin rated it really liked it
This review was first published in the Historical Novel Review.

270 AD. Queen Zenobia of Palmyra has turned on her erstwhile master, Rome. She has sent her armies across Arabia, Egypt, and Syria to sweep away the weakened Roman forces. Antioch now stands exposed, with only the small garrison at the fort of Alauran standing in her armies’ path.

Cassius Corbulo is new to the Roman ranks. He’s the privileged son of a noble family, untested, unbloodied, and ill-prepared. Nevertheless, his rank in the
Mar 20, 2016 Speesh rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am going back in time by reading this one. I was lucky enough to be sent (the latest as it was at the time) 'The Black Stone,' which was actually number four in the series. I’d seen the name and some of the covers before that, but not got onto reading any. But having been solidly impressed by TBS, I’m making up for lost time by starting (again) at the beginning with ’The Siege.'

And maybe time-travel is perhaps not at all a bad metaphor for me to use for this review. As Nick Brown certainly has
Laurentiu Lazar
Aug 12, 2015 Laurentiu Lazar rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2015
Story.“The Siege” is set against the backdrop of Emperor Aurelian’s reign during the Palmeryan revolt led by Queen Zenobia. The main character is a young security service officer named Cassius Corbulo, who by chance gets sent far off into the desert, south-east of Antioch, to the fort of Alauran so as to coordinate the defense against a potential invasion force – strategically important due to its water source. Corbulo’s mission seems impossible at first glance having to deal with inward doubts, ...more
Greg at 2 Book Lovers Reviews
Cassias Corbulo is a fresh grain officer who has been dropped into the role of defending a key resource with a rag-tag group of soldiers. With a much larger contingent of the enemy on the way, he must pull this group together to defend Rome’s interests and save his own life.

With so many books set in Roman Britain (that I have been reading lately), it was nice to get a different picture of the vast Roman Empire. Syria is such a completely foreign place. Nick Brown did an excellent job of bringing
Robin Carter
May 04, 2012 Robin Carter rated it it was amazing
When ever you get a new / debut author in a genre its potentially a mixed blessing, could this be a new giant of the genre? could he/ she be a turkey? There are the subtle parts of a new writer, like will they be a writer of explosive action, or slow burn deep facts, or a mix of them both?

With so many authors out there turning out great books it then means its down to the marketing and the cover artists to draw the eye and make you pick up the book and read the back cover.

With Siege of Rome the
The setting for The Siege is a fort in the Syrian desert, held by a handful of Roman legionaries. It is the year 270 AD, and the Roman Empire is in decline with its possessions under attack from the Palmyrans of Queen Zenobia. A young officer, Cassius Corbulo, arrives at the fort and takes command, charged with holding the fort against the Palmyrans' imminent attack.

This is an engrossing historical novel, which has two great strengths - the character development of Cassius, from bewildered rooki
Paul Bennett
Apr 20, 2014 Paul Bennett rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Cassius Quintius Corbulo, newly commissioned officer in the oft despised branch of the Roman army, The Frumentarii, is well aware that he is ill equipped for the duty that has been thrust upon him. At the ripe old age of nineteen and with no experience in field command he is tasked with saving an outpost fort that is manned by a ragtag, veteran, under strength Century which has lost all semblance of discipline and which faces the imminent arrival of an enemy force five times their number. Agains ...more
Jul 03, 2013 adam-p-reviews rated it it was amazing
The Siege is the first book in Nick Brown’s debut the Agent of Rome series and tells the tale of Cassius Corbulo, a young Roman aristocrat who after too much boozing and womanizing is forced to join the army by his Senator father. Luckily because of his standing in Roman society, Corbulo manages to gain a place in the Imperial Security Service, which in normal circumstances would handle administration within the army such as gaining food and supplies and not really fight on the front line with n ...more
Sep 21, 2013 Paul rated it it was ok
Shelves: abandoned, history, romans
An easy, very accessible read remarkable only for how bland, pedestrian and unremarkable it is.

The premise is relatively novel in that the main protagonist, Cassius, is a fish out of water having to pretend he is a Centurion in order to get a ragtag bunch of isolated legionaries to cooperate with him.

Aside from that element, there's precious little to distinguish or make this book stand out from any of the other Roman fiction books out there.

There's less depth to the characters than you'd find
Mar 28, 2013 Kate rated it really liked it
After reading the second and latest in the Agent of Rome series - The Imperial Banner - I knew I should go back and read the first. I'm glad I did. Although not quite as polished as book 2 (one of my favourite books of 2012), it is excellent. The Siege is, not unexpectedly, about a siege but it is more than that. The events build slowly and satisfyingly as we get to know the men who will play such a crucial role in the siege of the small desert town, not least their young and fearful commander C ...more
Jun 14, 2015 Bart rated it liked it
Shelves: 2015-read
3,5 stars.

I liked the refreshing original setting of the novel (the Romans in Syria at the time of the revolt of Queen Zenobia's Palmyrans), the superb characterization (especially Cassius Corbulo as a realistic and very human hero, with some very well done character development), and the great first half of the story (from the introduction of Cassius till the organisation of the garrisoned troops). In the second half of the book came the siege itself with a whole lot of battle scenes and my att
Rich Mainville Jr.
This is a great book and I really look forward to reading the next in the series. The main character's development (Cassius) is simply awesome. He becomes quite the leader through his ups and downs with the 3rd legion. I've been looking forward to a book that goes into detail about battles and injuries. This one does so, without being over the top gory about it. I enjoyed how the book tells two sides of the battle - the Romans, and the Palmyrans. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys ...more
Debayan Das
Jul 11, 2016 Debayan Das rated it it was amazing
The late third century AD was a time of upheaval in the Roman Empire and it always has been a fascinating era to research. Nick Brown's "Agent of Rome" series brings to life the journey of a young frumentarius(Imperial Agent) aka a "grain-man". This young protagonist Cassius is a Roman nobleman who is addicted to the finer things in life but finds himself thrust into the violent world of the Legions and the grain-men. He dislikes violence and is abysmal with a sword, yet he finds his way out of ...more
Aug 30, 2014 Jennifer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The story of Roman soldiers and centurions is brought to life magnificently in this book by Nick Brown
You follow the struggles and battles and bloodshed as if you were living the life yourself
Fabulous history comes to life as war rages
Simon Turney
Mar 28, 2013 Simon Turney rated it really liked it
I was wary of beginning Nick Brown's 'Agent of Rome: The Siege' and put it off for a long time. Having read the blurb, it looked to me to be ridiculously close in plot to Harry Sidebottom's first Warrior of Rome, in that both involve a Roman site under siege from an eastern power at almost the same point in history. The locations are close, both in Syria. The times are roughly a decade apart.

I needn't have worried. There are similarities, yes, but… well let me put it this way: I could give two a
Kurt Vosper
Jul 27, 2014 Kurt Vosper rated it really liked it
Young Cassius is given command of a rat tag fort that stands in the way of an army advancing into Roman territory. This fort is a strategic strongpoint, particularly for its control of the best water source in the region. Very good historical novel, some great characters. I really enjoyed the Roman soldiers that are manning the fort when Cassius arrives. The battle preparation and the actual battles are very convincing. Good first novel by this author. Looking forward to reading the rest in the ...more
Nov 04, 2012 Stefan rated it really liked it
The subject matter of Nick Brown’s debut work of historical fiction immediately sparked my interest. The core story (the siege of an isolated Roman outpost in the Syrian desert) was a compelling narrative that described an interesting and lesser known period of the Roman Empire’s history. Where Brown excelled above all else was his ability to keep the narrative focused on a small cast of engaging and well-developed characters. The emphasis of intimacy over epic scope was refreshing and, in my op ...more
Jan 17, 2016 Kristel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really liked the ending of this book! A solid 4 out of 5 stars
Nov 05, 2014 Beth rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club
It is what it says in the title. This is a highly detailed description of a particular siege. Everything in it is to serve this particular goal. The protagonist has a little arc about coming into leadership, and everyone else has characterization that is competently done but limited to what a commander would want to know. I'm still not sure if I think the plot was going anywhere beyond faction 2 wants to take a strategic point and faction 1 wants to keep it. The prose is tasty, but very military ...more
Travis Bird
Jan 12, 2014 Travis Bird rated it really liked it
Nothing like a good siege yarn. This one is a real beauty and avoids doing violence to the historical truth.
David Stringer
Mar 09, 2016 David Stringer rated it it was amazing
Shelves: historical
I must say that I really enjoyed this book! I've had this on my shelf at home for a while, after buying it some years ago as a hardback in a 0.99 sale from Waterstones, and I've now got round to reading it and I'm so glad I did.

The writing and story flow very well, the character development is brilliant and I really engaged with many of the characters throughout, willing them on during various events. The story is about a young security officer called Cassius, who is set the unwanted task of reb
Andy Harris
Feb 06, 2014 Andy Harris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
thanks to the author for a free copy - but these views are my own

this is an enjoyable historical debut novel about a centurion and his colleagues heavily outnumbered in battle

well researched and interesting throughout - definitely recommended if you have an interest in historical novels and the romans in particular
David Baird
Jun 08, 2015 David Baird rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was kindly gifted a copy of the book for review and I can honestly say I’m so pleased I was!
First off.. just look at the artwork on the cover. Without even reading the outline of the story I was already interested in getting to grips with this one.

The book follows Cassius Corbulo. He’s a member of the imperial security service and thinks he will most likely spend his days sitting behind a desk not really getting his hands dirty.. How wrong he is.
Corbulo is the most senior officer out in the Sy
Oct 02, 2013 Inne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
In the beginning I found it hard to keep reading this book, it was very slow-paced and I didn't quite like it at the start, but after the first few chapters the book actually gets up to speed and the action starts.
Jul 19, 2015 Crt rated it it was amazing
Fantastically, really enjoyable read. Follows a young centurion who isn't warlike at all, and manages t oh old out against the odds against the Palmyrans in some forsaken desert place.
May 25, 2013 Margareth8537 rated it it was amazing
Oh good, another Roman series. Everyone seems to be writing them at the moment, but there are a lot of us quite happy to read the, criticise their accuracy and wonder what next?
*** Received in a Goodreads First Reads giveaway ***

Not surprisingly this book details a siege. Unfortunately that is really all it does. A brand new officer in the Secret Police is assigned to a post in Syria. He gets orders to head to Alauran to tell of impending attack and if no other man is able to take control of the garrison and lead the defense until help arrives.

Naturally when he gets to the garrison it is an uphill battle to turn the undisciplined sort into a working century of Romans.
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Nick was born in Norwich in 1974. A keen reader from a young age, he graduated from Enid Blyton to Douglas Hill and JRR Tolkien, and from there to Ian Fleming, Tom Clancy and Michael Crichton. After three years studying in Brighton, he travelled to Nepal where he worked at an orphanage and trekked to Mount Everest. After qualifying as a history teacher in 2000, he worked for five years in England ...more
More about Nick Brown...

Other Books in the Series

Agent of Rome (6 books)
  • The Imperial Banner (Agent of Rome #2)
  • The Far Shore (Agent of Rome #3)
  • The Black Stone (Agent of Rome #4)
  • The Emperor's Silver (Agent of Rome #5)
  • The Earthly Gods (Agent of Rome #6)

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“Sir, you do understand that - officially - I'm not actually a centurion. I haven't even been assigned to a legion yet.'
The general continued writing as he spoke. 'What was the name?'
'Corbulo, sir.'
'Corbulo, you have an officer's tunic and an officer's helmet; and you completed full officer training did you not?'
Cassius nodded. He could easily recall every accursed test and drill. Though he'd excelled in the cerebral disciplines and somehow survived the endless marches and swims, he had rated poorly with sword in hand and had been repeatedly described as "lacking natural leadership ability." The academy's senior centurion had seemed quite relieved when the letter from the Service arrived.
'I did, sir, but it was felt I would be more suited to intelligence work than the legions, I really would prefer -'
'And you did take an oath? To Rome, the Army and the Emperor?'
'I did, sir, and of course I am happy to serve but -'
The General finished the orders. He rolled the sheet up roughly and handed it to Cassius.
'Yes, sir. Sorry, sir. I just have one final question.'
The General was on his way back to his chair. He turned around and fixed Cassius with an impatient stare.
'Sir - how should I present myself to the troops? In terms of rank I mean.'
'They will assume you are a centurion, and I can see no practical reason whatsoever to disabuse them of that view.”
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