Series: Gaius Valerius Verrens 8
My version: Hardback
Historical Fiction Rome, Britannia
AD77. Gaius Valerius Verrens is honoured to be part of Emperor Vespasian’s inner circle, yet the emnity between him and the Emperor’s son Domatian, is such that to remain in Rome risks death.
At the outer reaches of the Empire, in Britannia, rebellion stirs. The province’s governor, Agricola, is preparing to march his legions north and, as his deputy governer, Valerius seizes the opportunity to move his family out of harm’s way. But it was in Britannia that Valerius cut his military teeth and first bloodied his sword – and it becomes clear that the vengeful ghosts from this past are never far away.
Then a Roman garrison is massacred and the Legate of the Ninth Legion dies under suspicious circumstances throwing Agricola’s preparations into disarray. In the west, from their heartland on the Isle of Mona, the Celtic priesthood still harbours hopes of ridding Britannia of Roman rule. To deal with the Druids and the warriors who protect them, Agricola needs a soldier he can trust at the head of his ‘unlucky’ legion. Only one man has the experience and the ability.
And so a reluctant Valerius must put aside his scrolls and pick up his sword once more – and march beside the Eagle of the Ninth…
Douglas Jackson’s ‘…Of Rome’ series, has become an absolutely imperative, must-read pretty much in one gulp kind of series for me. Face it, if nothing else, it is always refreshing to read a book about Rome and the Romans which doesn’t start with “Rome was in turmoil…” Douglas Jackson’s Gaius Valerius Verrens books have consistently been several cuts far, far above that sort of nonsense.
So in ‘Glory‘, we’re now eight books into the series and it shows absolutely no signs of flagging. If anything, this ‘Glory‘ feels to have given the series a new life, showing it is still full of great ideas for the character, sparkling dialogue and of course it almost goes without saying, superbly-written action.
We have lost one major character (I’m going to try and skirt around the who and the how, incase you haven’t got to this book as yet). Why? Well, Gaius Valerius has moved on in his life, and the series maybe needed to move on as well, from the ‘boys on tour’ trap that was perhaps lying in wait. It would have been easy for Douglas J to churn out that kind of adventure series quite easily and it would no doubt have sold very well. I’m thinking some authors make a very good living from regurgitating their old plots and that kind of scenario. Fortunately, Douglas Jackson has proved himself better than that. The focus of Valerius’ life has changed in this book, his priorities have changed. He has more responsibilities; he has not only the Ninth Legion to keep safe, but a young family as well.
However…while he has seemingly removed himself and his family from the internal Roman threats, he has seemingly plunged them back into the fire stoked by some of Rome’s more devious external enemies. In the form of the barking mad Britons and their clearly insane Druidic shamen. It’s a very warm welcome back to Britannia for Valerius, a much anticipated one for me. I kept humming something along the lines of ‘Valerius is coming home’ while reading. It all feels right. It’s wild, it’s dangerous, it’s a political minefield for the Romans, it’s a real banquet of reading delights for us. I do know a little of the history of the Roman state from this point on, so there’s much, much more deviousness to anticipate from his Roman home, but for now, I’ll settle for enjoying Valerius’ homecoming in Britannia.
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