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...moreThe 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… (less)
Vivid and beautifully written, Luka and the Fire of Life was an eye-opener for me. It drew me in within a few pages as it blew away the usual constrai...moreVivid and beautifully written, Luka and the Fire of Life was an eye-opener for me. It drew me in within a few pages as it blew away the usual constraints of reality. The tale follows the classic quest pattern, littered with mythology and old gods, but amusingly blended with elements of modern popular culture. It made me wonder and it made me chuckle.
The only possible negative I could offer is that it is maybe over-written for what is intended as a child's book (not sure what age range it is aimed at, so maybe I'm off the mark with this)? (less)
Ironroot is the first of this author's work I have tried, and what can I say? It's dark, tense, pacy, delightfully twisty and evocative and I found my...moreIronroot is the first of this author's work I have tried, and what can I say? It's dark, tense, pacy, delightfully twisty and evocative and I found myself being sucked into the Roman-like world in which it is set.
From the poetic and vivid opening chapter I was hooked and then only sleep or work could pull me away from my kindle as it wound its way around the lands of the Empire, following a tight-knit trio of characters as they bonded in the face of espionage and skulduggery. Indeed the characters really grew on me as the story unfolded, so much so that I was parrying every sword-blow with Varro and his entourage before long!
The 'hook' factor has left me wanting to explore the world of the 'Tales of the Empire' series, so I'll definitely be reading more of this series and the author's other works. (less)
The idea is simple and intriguing: what if the Roman Empire had survived and remained dominant throughout not only Europe, but the rest of the world u...moreThe idea is simple and intriguing: what if the Roman Empire had survived and remained dominant throughout not only Europe, but the rest of the world up to the present day?
This posed lots of questions for me and it was a must read from this point of view. However, the Roman world in Romanitas seems to be a very lightweight veneer on an otherwise fairly run of the mill thriller/espionage tale. Perhaps it was unrealistic to expect that such a world would look anything like the Roman empire of antiquity, but while reading I didn't feel like the book was transporting me to anywhere other than today's world with a few tweaks.
This is a decent story - it's just that it promises more than it delivers.(less)
This is an enjoyable tale once it gets going. I'm a big fan of the later, less-than-invincible Roman Empire, and this is set in just that era, with Du...moreThis is an enjoyable tale once it gets going. I'm a big fan of the later, less-than-invincible Roman Empire, and this is set in just that era, with Dux Ballista being sent with a weak straggle of poorly-trained legionaries and auxilliaries to defend a sand-swept city far to the east against the might of the Sassanid army. The whole siege/bunker mentality really gets you onside with the protagonists.
Harry Sidebottom has gone to extreme lengths to ensure that the minutae of life in this time period are described to a tee, embellishing Ballista's time in Arete vividly. This is something of a double-edged sword; I do feel that a good historical novel should balance historical detail with exposition and action. In FitE, the historical detail was rich and informative but detrimental to the flow of the story at times.
Pacing was another thing that took a star off for me. I was looking forward to the clash between the Sassanids and the Romans, but it took a long time to come (over two thirds of the book) and this slackened the tension. Also, there were possibly a handful too many characters, but in saying that, the author handily provided a character glossary at the back - it's just that sometimes it interrupted the flow of the story when you had to work out who was doing what.
I'll be trying the next in the series, as I feel there is a lot more depth to be mined from the character of Ballista, especially the dark nightmare that haunts him - I love that side of a character!(less)
David Gemmell again demonstrates why he is the master of the flawed and tragic hero with this tale.
'Dark Prince' will convert any reader who is unsur...moreDavid Gemmell again demonstrates why he is the master of the flawed and tragic hero with this tale.
'Dark Prince' will convert any reader who is unsure of the fantasy genre. Indeed, 'Lion of Macedon' was the first David Gemmell book I had read, and being three-quarters historical fiction, one-quarter fantasy, it led me gently away from my usual haunts of historical fiction.
After that I was only to happy to let 'Dark prince' pull away all my preconceptions of how a story should unravel, as Parmenion and Alexander descend into a world where nothing is impossible. Oddly, 'Dark Prince' took me back to my childhood readings of 'The Chronicles of Narnia' in this respect (although DP is certainly a darker tale).
A must read in my opinion. What a writer that man was...(less)
While part 1 of this trilogy ticked a lot of boxes for me (the end of the Roman Empire, epic adventure, a dash of fantasy/mysticism) and left me eager...moreWhile part 1 of this trilogy ticked a lot of boxes for me (the end of the Roman Empire, epic adventure, a dash of fantasy/mysticism) and left me eager for part 2, 'The Gathering of the Storm' failed to hit the mark for me.
The scale of this book felt very limited in comparison to the first part, both geographically and temporally. It follows Attila, in his homeland, stamping out usurpers and mustering support from his clansmen. The character of Attila just felt completely different (not just older and wiser) to the boyhood equivalent in part 1, and a lot of the loose ends from part 1 are never touched upon throughout this book.
Also, technically speaking the narrative used a heck of a lot of adjectives - to the extent that it really detracted from the story in places.
I think it's a shame after such a captivating start to the trilogy and I can only hope part 3 saves the day. (less)
An atmospheric, dark and at times bleak tale of men surviving the aftermath of the Trojan War.
The story pivots around Diomedes of Argos and his retin...moreAn atmospheric, dark and at times bleak tale of men surviving the aftermath of the Trojan War.
The story pivots around Diomedes of Argos and his retinue as they find that they cannot return to their Greek dominion and are forced to sail west. The author dramatises the collapse of the Bronze Age Aegean world well as the various city states attempt to recover from the ten years of the Trojan War. A picture of inescapable destruction is painted with the Dorian Greeks pouring south to devastate the old seats of power which are themselves tangled in treachery and power struggles.
I almost felt part of the Diomedes' crew as they escaped from this turmoil and into the misty and eerily quiet world to the west.
However, I found the last third of the tale capped the mood of the story appropriately, but left me feeling flat - like the climactic end I wanted never quite materialised.
Not my favourite from Mr Manfredi but a decent read nonetheless.(less)
The first book in the Eagle series was really addictive reading for me. Two totally different characters thrown together in the brutal world of the Ro...moreThe first book in the Eagle series was really addictive reading for me. Two totally different characters thrown together in the brutal world of the Roman Legion, where together they form an unlikely partnership that quickly becomes warm, witty and intriguing. The author does a good job of making the Roman world, that can often be portrayed as a stuffy and aloof, seem real and identifiable to modern readers who might not otherwise enjoy this genre. The dialogue especially helps in this sense.
I picked this up one Christmas holiday a few years back and had it finished the next day...and was then on the net looking for the rest of the series.