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Wounds of Honour (Empire #1)

4.08  ·  Rating Details ·  1,990 Ratings  ·  103 Reviews
Marcus Valerius Aquila has scarcely landed in Britannia when he has to run for his life - condemned to dishonorable death by power-crazed Emperor Commodus. The plan is to take a new name, serve in an obscure regiment on Hadrian's Wall and lie low until he can hope for justice. Then a rebel army sweeps down from the wastes north of the Wall, and Marcus has to prove he's har ...more
Hardcover, 341 pages
Published 2009 by Hodder & Stoughton
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Asteropê This is an adult series, though I don't know if it'd be appropriate or not for a YA or MG reader. It's not a YA or MG book, though.

Community Reviews

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Jul 31, 2014 Conor rated it liked it
Wounds of honour was a light, enjoyable read with plenty of exhilarating action scenes. Unfortunately it was also pretty predicable and unremarkable, especially in terms of plot. This was a pretty typical piece of Roman historical fiction focusing on the adventures of a centurion serving in the legions, it did this reasonably well and was a solid example of the genre.

The action scenes in this were frequent, bloody and exciting. Unlike other books I’ve read recently (Steven Erikson’s Malazan Boo
Ben Kane
Mar 21, 2012 Ben Kane rated it it was amazing
I have a confession to make. I bought this book when it came out, 3 years ago. To my shame, I didn't read it until last summer. What a mistake that was! Anyway, I took it on holiday with me. I read half of it in the airport and on the plane. By bedtime, it was two-thirds. I finished it the next morning over coffee. To me, that's the sign of a damn fine read.

I should also point out that the topic of the book - a real life rebellion in and around Hadrian's Wall in AD 181, was the topic of my first
Apr 17, 2013 Beorn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Make no mistake this is no melodramatic Roman saga, this is stonecold hard meat.
This book is the epitome of blood, sweat and no tears when it comes to Roman period historical fiction. At the same time it doesn't resort to the angle often adopted by authors trying to set themselves apart from the usual 'epic' style Roman novels, namely gratuitously large amounts of gore and bloodletting to hide the threadbare plot. While this novel undeniably has it's share of bloodletting, it feels a lot more c
Jul 10, 2013 Jane rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one
1.5/5. I kept reading to the end to see the outcome of the story. The book was not badly written on the whole, but I personally hated the vulgarisms, profanity, modernisms, and absolute coarseness. Dialogue was terrible. You only have to read the extended quote where Marcus is haranguing his men, to see what I mean. The soldiers, garrison life and 'basic training' sounded like modern GIs transplanted into an ancient Roman setting. Had Mr. Riches been in the military, borrowing from his own exper ...more
Andy McNab meets the Second Century AD only with twice the cumstains and a cock jockey or two.
Yes. You read right. It is what I said. Cumstains and cock jockeys. An example of two words that appeared in the book and that I feel should not have appeared in the book. If it surprised you to see them here in my review, imagine how I felt to find them in the Second Century AD. And yet they help me make my point, because it is from within those cumstains and cock jockeys that springs my compatibility
Romans and Britain. I seem to be reading quite a few books with this theme lately. This one is pretty close to my favorite of the lot.

While I did have to suspend belief a couple times and roll my eyes every time Marcus told someone else his 'secret', I thoroughly enjoyed the characters, the writing and the story.

The battles were epic, whether they were small or large. The all important (at least to me) supporting cast was stellar and story kept me turning pages so fast I finished this book in
S.J.A. Turney
May 01, 2012 S.J.A. Turney rated it it was amazing
I've waited until I finished the third book in this series before posting a review of any of them, and for a particular reason. Most of the historical series I've read consist of a new separate story with each book, often defined by a narrator's pause or some such device. Most series are different stories with different themes that build a series.

Wile clearly part of a series, Tony's first three Empire books are different. To me they follow on so closely and seamlessly that the series so far cou
Aug 16, 2015 Flemming rated it it was ok
while I appriciate a good story about Romans in Britain, this is ruined by the mary-sue that is the main character. Not only is he, at age 19, THE best swordsman with DUAL swords, he can also step into line with legionaries, and he doesnt need a shield, thats how badass he is. Nevermind the fact that this is how the Roman Legions bested the tribes of gaul and britain but no, he is so damn awesome, he can do without, and STILL be a part of the unit. He is also impossible modest, and the only time ...more
Chris F
Jan 22, 2013 Chris F rated it liked it
I enjoyed this book with the story keeping me interested throughout. For most of the book I was thinking 4 stars, but felt the dialogue during the last quarter was a bit weak and let down the well written actions scenes a little. Also the ending was just too neat and tidy. This is the authors first book though and he seems to have gained a wide audience with the books that have followed this one in the series, so well worth continuing with the series as a solid start could get even better.
Aug 22, 2013 Stuart rated it liked it
"Even when running to escape the past, you will end up fighting it in the future"

Anthony Riches "Empire - Wounds of Honour" slots in well within Roman fiction. It is certainly reminiscent of Simon Scarrows Eagles series.

Many authors who tackle the Roman's focus upon Britain and the subsequent conquest of what will become the northern reaches of the Roman Empire. Anthony Riches begins his tale some 139 years after the original conquest of the Britain's (which was 43 AD under Emperor Claudius - M
Jul 31, 2013 Jacqui rated it really liked it
As I have mentioned previously, I like books about the Roman Empire especially the armies, so when I found this series and read the description, I was hooked:Marcus Valerius Aquila has scarcely landed in Britannia when he has to run for his life - condemned to dishonourable death by power-crazed emperor Commodus. The plan is to take a new name, serve in an obscure regiment on Hadrian's Wall and lie low until he can hope for justice. Then a rebel army sweeps down from the wastes north of the Wall ...more
Chris Thomas
A really solid read. A tad predictable, but enjoyable none the less. Builds nicely to the final battle scene, which lasts nearly 60 pages! It has everything a good plot needs, without getting too complicated. After reading this, feel more educated in the ways of the roman armies, their lifestyle, fighting techniques and defensive tactics. Is there a better way to be educated than to read a good story?
Mar 16, 2012 James rated it really liked it
To begin with I think I need to explain where I am coming from when writing this review. This book is not of the highest quality, but it entertains amazingly well. It falls into so many of the pitfalls of not just historical fiction, but fiction as a whole, but still manages to leave you loving it. All the way through I was picking out error after error - not just historically, but writing style and the fact that some things just didn't 'work' - but at the same time I could not stop, I just had ...more
May 12, 2012 Ruth rated it really liked it
C2009: Marcus Valerius Aquila now has a new follower. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and although there wasn’t anything tremendously unique about the plot or themes, it didn’t matter – it was a great story. To me, it is the mark of a good writer to be able to achieve this and somehow it seemed that the author was not only passionate about this particular part of history but had managed to flesh out personalities from perhaps dry historical ‘facts’. Certainly, the bravery required from warriors o ...more
Robin Carter
May 07, 2012 Robin Carter rated it it was amazing
When i first saw this book in the shops i thought GREAT... an new roman author....and I hope its not a hack job with no love of the subject. or too much love and no substance...there are so many out there these days. I'm after authors who can compete with Simon Scarrow, Conn Iggulden etc..

I think within 10 pages i knew i was on to a winner, Anthony Riches has a way with words that yanks the reader straight into the past, but retains the language the reader understands, does not bamboozle them wi
David Alkek
Jul 12, 2013 David Alkek rated it liked it
This is a very graphic and detailed novel set in late Roman Britain. The hero, Marcus Aquila, is hiding under an assumed name because his family has been accused of treason. The historical facts are accurate , except for the patrician wife serving as an army surgeon. The author certainly did his research about Hadrian's Wall. His battle scene are bloody and realistic, although they take up a lot of the book. I would have liked to see more facets of the villain and a more realistic love affair.
Feb 27, 2010 Burt rated it it was amazing
Empire is Anthony Riches' first novel and it is unreservedly great. He has constructed a very believable picture of the Roman army, especially the auxilia. The writing is crisp, natural, and effective. I am eagerly awaiting his second novel, continuing the exploits of Marcus Valerius Aquilla.
Apr 26, 2010 Wolfgirl rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who enjoys historical fiction
Really enjoyed this book. If you're remotely into historical fiction give this one a go. Can't wait for the next one in the series!
Jo Barton
Mar 24, 2010 Jo Barton rated it it was amazing
A thoroughly good adventure story set in Roman Britain with realistic battles scenes, and likeable characters. The first in a proposed trilogy, looking forward to the next two books !
May 09, 2017 Christian rated it really liked it
For the full review and more, visit my blog

Wounds of Honour is the kick-off for the Empire Series and takes place at the end of the 2nd century AD. While ancient Rome has always been full of intrigues and wars, the reign of Emperor Commodus was particularly full of both (which is why it was used extensively for movies like Gladiator or the TV-series Roman Empire: Reign of blood). The protagonist of the story is Marcus Valerius Aquila, son of a powerful senatorial family in Rome, whose family fal
Jan 25, 2017 Mary rated it it was amazing
Anthony Riches has chosen to set his first book in his Empire Series, "Wounds of Honor" in northern Britain during the relatively short reign of the Roman Emperor Commodus. When the story opens, we are introduced to his protagonist, Marcus Valerius Aquila, a young Roman officer from a powerful senatorial family, who has been ostensibly sent to Brtiannia to serve as a tribune of the Sixth Legion. But on the road to the legion's headquarters, his small contingent, that includes a retired Centurion ...more
Paul Gibbs
May 13, 2017 Paul Gibbs rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Probably closer to a 3.5, an easy read.
It concerns the Roman control of Hadrian's Wall and the rise of a Barbarian Horde of Brits.
It is well written, you get a feel of the time and place, but.... it lacks that special something that separates the good book from the excellent.
Riches has obviously researched the era well, but I just didn't care quite enough for the "Hero" of the tale.
I bought this as a 3 Pack of the first 3 of the Empire Series, so I shall be reading the next two at least.
Nov 03, 2013 Speesh rated it really liked it
This is a real Roman hum-dinger. A magnificent slap in the face, reality check of a Historical Fiction novel. A fresh, no-nonsense, take no prisoners, exciting, testosterone-driven assault on the Historical Fiction senses. It’s one that should be listed at the top under the Wikipedia entry for ‘couldn’t put it down.’ Really good.

According to the dust jacket, Anthony Riches holds a degree in Military Studies and it shows. He knows his stuff, but doesn’t shove it in your face the whole time, like
Heath Knight
May 08, 2017 Heath Knight rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017
easy read, job done
Steve Blunden
May 17, 2017 Steve Blunden rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book. I have read better historically entertaining but finished this and well into book 2. I got confused with names and the like but that's to be expected. Good read
Dec 31, 2014 Soho_Black rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed, used-to-own
Ben Kane recently said that one of his early ideas for a Roman historical novel was about soldiers stationed at Hadrian's Wall. When he was asked if he would ever consider revisiting the idea, he said he still liked the idea, but a number of authors had used it since. One of these is Anthony Riches, whose ''Empire'' series is set on Hadrian's Wall and to judge from ''Wounds of Honour'', it's certainly an idea worth exploring.

Riding to the Northern outpost of the Roman Empire to deliver a message
Mar 14, 2017 LMW rated it liked it
On one hand, iot is hard to put down. Lots of action. The characters themselves are a bit stereotypical and wooden, a bit more than two dimensional. The story line is where I have a bit of an issue, that many people knowing who the main character really is and risking lives and family to help? I seriously doubt that part. But it is a decent read, and does not get boring!
Mar 12, 2017 Hieronymus rated it it was ok
Rather poor - the anachronism of the language used at times is a serious obstacle to enjoying this story and I stopped reading after the first 100 pages
Nadine Paque-Wolkow
Die Rezi gibt es auch auf meinem Blog:

Ich bin immer froh und glücklich wenn Verlage bei historischen Romanen auch einmal etwas anderes verlegen, als nur starke Frauen in schwierigen Situationen Schmöker. Deshalb fällt es mir nicht leicht, diese Rezension zu schreiben, denn ich kann für die Ehre der Legion leider nicht so viele Sterne verteilen, wie ich es vielleicht am Anfang gedacht hatte.

Als Freundin millitärischer Histos (ja ich mag es blutig, brutal
Jeanne D'arc
Das Cover gesehen und gekauft!
Die Geschichte eines Mannes, der es nicht immer leicht haben wird
Die Geschichte von Marcus Valerius

Eckdaten zum Buch:

Verlag : Penhaligon
ISBN: 9783764531331
Flexibler Einband 448 Seiten
Genre: Historischer Roman
Art: Reihe

Anthony Riches hat einen Abschluss in Militärgeschichte von der Manchester University. Nach dem Studium arbeitete er 25 Jahre für eine Reihe von Großkonzernen in aller Welt, bevor er sich mit Aufträgen in Europa, USA,
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Ancient & Medieva...: JULY 2013 (Group Read 1) Wounds of Honour by Anthony Riches 210 116 Aug 14, 2013 12:46AM  
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Anthony Riches began his lifelong interest in war and soldiers when he first heard his father's stories about World War II. This led to a degree in Military Studies at Manchester University. He began writing the story that would become Wounds of Honour after a visit to Housesteads in 1996. He lives in Hertfordshire with his wife and three children.
More about Anthony Riches...

Other Books in the Series

Empire (10 books)
  • Arrows of Fury (Empire, #2)
  • Fortress of Spears (Empire, #3)
  • The Leopard Sword (Empire, #4)
  • The Wolf's Gold (Empire, #5)
  • The Eagle's Vengeance (Empire, #6)
  • The Emperor's Knives (Empire, #7)
  • Thunder of the Gods (Empire, #8)
  • Altar of Blood (Empire, #9)
  • L'impero (eNewton Narrativa)

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“Soldiers of the Ninth Century, I am your new centurion, Marcus Tribulus Corvus. From this moment I formally assume command of this century, and become responsible for every aspect of your well-being, discipline, training and readiness for war.’
He paused, looking to Dubnus, who drew a large breath and spat a stream of his native language at the troops.
‘One fucking smile, cough or fart from any one of you cock jockeys, and I’ll put my pole so far up that man’s shithole that it won’t even scrape onthe floor. This is your new centurion and you will treat him with the appropriate degree of respect if you don’t want to lead short and very fucking interesting lives.’
He turned to Marcus and nodded, indicating that the Roman should continue.
‘I can see from the state of your uniforms that you’ve been neglected, a state of affairs that I intend to address very shortly. I have yet to see your readiness for battle, but I can assure you that you will be combat ready in the shortest possible time. I do not intend to command a century that I would imagine is regarded as the laughing stock of its unit for any longer than I have to.'
Dubnus cast a pitying sneer over the faces in front of him before speaking again, watching their faces lengthen with the understanding of his methods, passed by whispered word of mouth from his previous century.
‘You’re not soldiers, you’re a fucking waste of rations, a disgrace to the Tungrians! You look like shit, you smell like shit and you’re probably about as hard as shit! That will change! I will kick your lazy fucking arses up and down every hill in the country if I have to, but you will be real soldiers. I will make you ready to kill and die for the honour of this century, with spear or sword or your fucking teeth and nails if need be!’
Marcus cast a questioning look at him, half guessing that the chosen man was deviating from his script, but chose not to challenge his subordinate.
‘You’ll have better food, uniforms and equipment, and soon. Your retraining starts tomorrow morning, so prepare yourselves! Life in this century changes now!’
Dubnus smiled broadly, showing his teeth with pleasure.
‘Your hairy white arses are mine from this second. Get ready to grab your ankles.”
“Be true to your words” 2 likes
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