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(Vindolanda #1)

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  1,333 ratings  ·  149 reviews
AD 98: The bustling army base at Vindolanda lies on the northern frontier of Britannia and the entire Roman world. In twenty years’ time, the Emperor Hadrian will build his famous wall, but for now defences are weak, as tribes rebel against Roman rule, and local druids preach the fiery destruction of the invaders.

Flavius Ferox is a Briton and a Roman centurion, given the t
Hardcover, 416 pages
Published June 1st 2017 by Head of Zeus
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 ·  1,333 ratings  ·  149 reviews

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Jeffrey Keeten
May 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
”’I do remember my uncle telling me that the Silures were different from everyone, perhaps from every nation on earth.’

‘Oh well, everyone knows that,’ Vindex agreed. ‘Odd people. Funny customs. Don’t talk much. Don’t swear much either and you cannot say that is natural.’

‘Is it true?’ Crispinus asked. ‘Now that you mention it I have not heard you swear.’

‘Waste of good anger,’ Ferox said without looking at him. ‘It was something his grandfather had often said. Do not waste rage. Nurture it, cheris
Jul 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
A brilliant historic fiction.

Adrian Goldsworthy’s 2017 novel of Roman Britain set in AD 98, years before Hadrian’s Wall but also a few decades after Boudicca’s revolt, describes a time when the expanding Roman Empire had pushed far into the north of Britain, into Scotland, but was far from holding this far conquest without contest from the natives.

While this is an extraordinarily well researched and erudite novel about life in the Roman Empire, the most compelling details lay in Goldsworthy’s de
May 31, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
Our first meeting with Flavius Ferox is hardly auspicious; according to the sentry who is relaying the opener, he is messy drunk and trying desperately not to get involved in the trouble that has just been dumped in his lap. Yet his intelligence, personal morality, and hard working nature come quickly to the fore when we switch to his point of view and when the real and significant threat of these raiding tribes becomes clear. This is not some drunk who benefits from miracles, but a centurion wh ...more
This is a pretty enjoyable historical novel. The action moves along at a fair pace, but what I liked most was the sense of time and place that the novel conveys. That probably comes from the author being a well-regarded historian of the Roman Empire. My main criticism would be around the book’s romantic sub-plot, which I found a bit corny, if I’m being honest.

The setting is 98AD and the Roman fort of Vindolanda, in what is now the northernmost part of England. A quarter century later Vindolanda
Jul 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
The author, a noted historian, has tried his hand at historical fiction--first, novels set in the Napoleonic years, now for a change in pace, Roman Britain, just after Trajan has become emperor. Having studied the Vindolanda tablets Goldsworthy has constructed a whole novel around the famous birthday invitation from one commander's wife to another. This tale is a worthy addition to the plethora of Roman novels set in Britannia. When we first meet Flavius Ferox, centurio regionarius, a Silure pri ...more
Feb 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
This was excellent! I’ve never actually heard of the author but I wasn’t surprised to find he is an acclaimed historian. I was torn on how to score this book because although I enjoyed it, it was very much a military book, for which I have a limited capacity for interest. However, it was an excellent story, well told. So I’m going for 4 stars and am interested in reading the rest of the trilogy and more of this author’s work.
thanks to the publishers and netgalley for a free copy in return for an open and honest review.

the author has a detailed knowledge of roman army and history and felt the book was slightly too long but did enjoy it overall as you felt you were on the fringes of the roman empire in whats now close to the english/scottish borders.
Ian Miller
Dec 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The year is 98 AD, and Vindolanda is a major fortification close to where Hadrian will eventually build his wall. The story is fictional, and mainly follows Flavius Ferox, a Centurion, and also a Briton (a Silure) from the far south. There is unrest in the northern border, there is druid and "priest" stirring up said trouble, there is a northern king whose allegiance is uncertain, and the reader can guess more or less what happens. The characters are fictional, except a small number of them were ...more
Sep 23, 2019 rated it liked it
A highly accurate historical fiction/detective mystery/conspiracy mashup in which a talented, but dissolute Roman Briton soldier on the British frontier becomes embroiled in a conspiracy involving native revolt and embarrassment to the new Roman Emperor Trajan.

TL; DR Description

This was a credible effort by a British, Roman military historian to write fiction. The hero was a Roman Legionary officer. The Roman military had police powers on the frontier. The author worked a serviceable noir
Mar 20, 2018 rated it liked it
Having recently delved into Adrian Goldsworthy's "Pax Romana" which I found eminently readable and stuffed with fascinating facts and insight into the Roman world, I was excited to see that Goldsworthy had tried his hand at historical fiction when "Vindolanda" showed up in my list of audiobooks available on Audible. Without hesitation I used one of my subscription credits to purchase it and began listening to it as soon as I finished my last of eleven novels by Anthony Riches.

I realized this nov
May 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
I was quickly drawn into Vindolanda by Adrian Goldsworthy, a novel set in northern frontier of Britain in 98 AD. It’s full of historical detail. Whilst some characters are based on real people about whom little is known apart from their names, most of the characters are fictional, including the main character, centurion Flavius Ferox. He is based at a small fort called Syracuse (a fictional fort) near the garrison of Vindolanda (modern Chesterholm). Vindolanda is south of Hadrian’s Wall and pred ...more
Jun 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Vindolanda is a stunningly good book, a story simply wonderfully told, from a new (to me) author and a much-needed (again, maybe, for me) new voice in Roman period Historical Fiction. A hugely impressive novel, made even more impressive by the fact that the good Mr Goldsworthy's day job, is that of a non-fiction All Things Roman Author. You can tell, tell that he knows his stuff, but the story isn't loaded down with "listen up class!" little bits and pieces, that, in my experience only serve to ...more
The Idle Woman
Apr 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
I always wonder about the current trend for historians to write historical fiction. It's become something of a fashion but it doesn't always work: good historians may tell stories with novelistic flair, and good historical fiction writers have to get their facts right, but the two genres do demand a different skill-set. Not everyone can make the transition from one to the other. So I was amused to see that Adrian Goldsworthy, the celebrated historian of the Roman Empire, has decided to try his h ...more
Jan 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
Really good historical novel set in northern Britain and Scotland during the very early years of the emperor Trajan. The battle scenes are detailed and make you feel you are in the centre of the action, maybe not for the faint-hearted. There is also a bit of a mystery about it, as a traitor is uncovered and gets his just desserts. The author is an ancient historian specialising in the Roman Army, so brings a great deal of historical detail to the novel. Excellent!
Jul 29, 2017 rated it liked it
Good 1st novel. I think Roman history buffs would probably enioy this more. Quite involved and detailed. Armour weapons and battles very good. I probably felt like some prior knowledge of the time etc would have helped the me enjoy it more.
Jan 06, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
With Vindolanda Adrian Goldsworthy demonstrated his broad knowledge of Roman military equipment, organization, and tactics through the vehicle of a novel. The “whodunit?” aspect of the tale was weak, with the mystery wrapped up hurriedly in the last few pages. Overall, however, it was an enjoyable and informative entertainment. Goldsworthy earned Four Stars from me.
Vicki Antipodean Bookclub
Jan 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
Titus Flavius Ferox was taken as a hostage from the Silures tribe of South Wales when his grandfather was defeated in battle by the Romans. Ferox was raised a Roman and commissioned into the Roman army. Caught up in the aftermath of the disgraced Emperor Domitian, Ferox has been stationed as centurio regionarius at the far edge of the Empire, near the fort of Vindolanda in the north-east of England. It will be another 20 years until Hadrian’s famous wall is built here. As centurio, Ferox is char ...more
Plot: 5 (typical Roman military fare)
Characters: 6 (enjoyable but sometimes interchangeable)
Accuracy: 7 (well-researched but full of modern attitudes and behavior)

Goldsworthy obviously knows what he's talking about (obviously!) but he nicens up the Roman army into basically just a modern peacekeeping force. Reading this book was a bit like reading the memoirs of a British army colonel serving in colonial India. All the massacres and travesties are committed by wretched foreigners and the lead ch
Keith Currie
May 15, 2018 rated it liked it
Adrian Goldsworthy is a Classical scholar of note and his first novel, set some miles south of where Hadrian's Wall would later be built, is both plausible and persuasive in its historical details. As far as plot is concerned, it's a fairly standard Roman army versus Barbarian northern tribes story, with treasonous and profiteering Romans adding spice and intrigue. I enjoyed the novel, but not so much that I would actively seek out its successor. It is also surprisingly coy in a peculiar way, in ...more
I really enjoy Goldsworthy's writing, and have read a few books of his. A few more are on my to-read list. Most of his work is non-fiction, as he specializes in Roman history, and so far he has proved himself as an expert with a keen eye for a detail and a sleight of hand in creating biographies that any reader will enjoy, whether they know a lot about Roman history or not. Vindolanda is a little bit different - it is the author's foray into a form of historical fiction, where some of the charac ...more
Laura Tenfingers
I thoroughly enjoyed Vindolanda. I loved our MC Ferox and his adventures all over Northern England. Some of the battle scenes lost me. They were extremely detailed but seemed geared for someone with greater Roman military knowledge than yours truly, who has scant. But I was still able to get the gist and follow along well enough. This has definitely whet my appetite to read more about ancient Rome.
My edition was a kindle version from Net Gallery.

Briton at the start of the new millennium was of interest - it was the period just Boudicca led the Iceni revolt and of Cartimandua reign over the Brigantes - so I was especially interested to know how things faired in light of these event.

Vindolanda was a Roman outpost in the middle on no-man's land - between the safety of the Roman Empire and the wild and rugged domains of the native barbarians (in northern Briton). Hadrian's Wall had not been
Oct 25, 2018 rated it liked it
Adrian Goldsworthy is a classical historian specializing in the Roman army, and he probably knows as much about his subject as anybody in the world. So it's perfectly appropriate that he should write a novel set in the north of Britannia (near where Hadrian's Wall will be when the next emperor takes power) early in the reign of Trajan. The details about exactly what kind of armor was worn by which kind of soldier, what tools and weapons he carried, and how he was trained are almost too much to b ...more
M. Jones
Mar 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
As a typical mongrel Brit whose ancestry is clearly Celtic, Saxon, and Norse, I should view the Romans as the bad guys - and generally I do. Them and their straight roads and fighting in armour. Ha! My ancestors took on these guys with no protection but for a dab of woad and a wild light in their eyes. However, Adrian Goldsworthy has done a fine job of making me want them to win their battles, with a rollicking tale of frontier fighting and treachery. Flavius Ferox, Centurion of Rome and Prince ...more
Sep 06, 2018 rated it liked it
Flavius Ferox is a British (Welsh) Roman from the Silures tribe, posted as Centurion in Vindolanda - the furthest post of the Roman Empire in AD98
There's a new Emperor, Trajan and many army posts and barracks further north in Scotland have been abandoned. The novel takes place 2 years before the building of Hadrian's wall

The barbarians (Scots) have declared war, and mysterious druid The Stallion is inciting rebellion against Roman outpost Vindolanda - and Ferox and his comrades

Pretty bloodthirst
Colin MacDonald
Good portrayal of Roman military life in ancient Britain - the author has written a lot of non-fiction on the subject. Solid but not brilliant storytelling and characterization. Lots of fight scenes, which are a little too detailed and sometimes confusing. Not much about non-military or native cultures.
Overall, a decent and compelling read. If you're more into about military history than I am, this is probably a four-star book.
Jun 16, 2017 rated it liked it
Before Hadrian built his wall the borders between Roman England and the Scotland of the barbarians was open. A couple of small outposts are all that stands between. When the barbarians attack the wife of a prominent Roman, Ferox and his band become involved. I love a good novel set in Roman Britain and this was a great story if a little bogged down with too much detail at times.
Paul Juniper
Oct 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
Too bloody and brutal for me. The author uses his excellent historical knowledge well. I’ve been to Vindolanda and I was pleased with how he handled it. I particularly liked the differentiation between the British tribes and their values and beliefs. It is clear there is to be a sequel (if sales are encouraging). I shall read it.
Oct 15, 2018 rated it liked it
As you might expect from a distinguished historian of the Roman army, Adrian Goldsworthy's novel set in Britannia at the beginning of the reign of the emperor Hadrian is very good on army life, its customs, routines, logistics and tactics. The novel is greatly enhanced by the detailed world-building that this knowledge enables.

Goldsworthy also manages to summon up a vivid picture of the patchwork of Celtic tribes the Romans might have encountered in Britannia at this time and cleverly explores t
Richard Munro
Jul 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
very well done; reads like a Roman "western" on the frontier. Well-drawn characters. Tasteful. Exciting adventure on the Caledonian frontier in the time of Trajan!
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Adrian Goldsworthy is the author of numerous acclaimed books, including biographies of Julius Caesar and Augustus. He lectures widely and consults on historical documentaries for the History Channel, National Geographic, and the BBC. He lives in the UK.

Other books in the series

Vindolanda (3 books)
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  • Brigantia (Vindolanda #3)

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“Waste of good anger,’ Ferox said without looking at him. It was something his grandfather had often said. Do not waste rage. Nurture it, cherish it and use the strength it gives. Hot anger gets a man killed. Cold anger will put the other man in the earth.” 1 likes
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