Review: Thunder of the Gods – Anthony Riches

Thunder of the Gods Anthony RichesSeries: Empire VIII

My version: Hardback
Genre: Historical Fiction Romans
First published: 2015
Published by: Hodder & Stoughton (Hachette UK)
ISBN: 978 1 444 73197 2

From the cover:

The eighth book in the Empire sequence takes Centurion Marcus Aquila and his Tungrian comrades on a dangerous mission to the heart of the Parthian Empire.

Marcus and the Tungrians are ordered east, to the desolate border lands where Rome and Parthia have vied for supremacy for centuries.

Ordered to relieve the siege of an isolated fortress, their task is doomed to bloody failure unless they can turn the disaffected Third Legion into a fighting force capable of resisting the terrifying Parthian cataphracts.

And Marcus must travel deep into Parthia on a desperate mission, the only man who can persuade the King of Kings to halt a war that threatens the humiliation of the empire and the slaughter of his friends. 

My problem with the latter Empire books, as been only partly with the way they are written. It has also been with the people who are – presumably – employed to read and check things, the text – I’m not talking directly about historical accuracy – I mean the spelling and grammatical errors and the like. Especially ‘the like.’ As I mentioned last time I read and reviewed an Anthony Riches Empire novel, a long time ago of necessity, the editor, the proofreaders, the agent, the whoeveritis, must be blind. Anthony Riches deserves the majority of the infamy of course, but he does get it checked by an editor and the rest of the people involved before it goes to press. Then, there are the people reviewing his books. Again, as I pointed out last time, nowhere in any review I can find on-line, does it state what is staring the reader in the face! I confronted one blogger with the evidence – and got myself blocked all over the show for my trouble (embarrassed, they clearly don’t want reminding of their duplicity?), leading me to suspect some people get some kind of incentive to review positively, overlook if you will, what normal people can see standing out like the balls on a bleeding bulldog.

Have things changed with Volume 8? Not likely. After the last ‘review’ I posted, I was pointed to a Facebook comment, where Mr Riches bemoaned that (at least) one of his reviews was negative and was ‘with pictures.’ That’ll be me! Mr Riches did say something about him having tightened things up in that department, but it would seem he was beyond Thunder Of The Gods at that point, or couldn’t be bothered going back and changing anything.

So, what is it I’m moaning about?

Let’s look just at Chapter One.

Eyebrows P13Eyebrows P16Eyebrows P21Eyebrows P25Eyebrows P26Eyebrows P28Eyebrows P31Eyebrows P33Eyebrows P39


They are, respectively, page(s) 13, 16, 21,25, 26, 28, 31, 39.
A raised eyebrows, eyebrows arched, four instances of (plain) eyebrows raised, a knowing, questioning and a jaundiced eyebrow raised. Though the absolute high/low point I’ve noted (later on) was “Julius raised an interrogatory eyebrow.”

Now, you’re saying to me that, in the many months of writing, running it past the wife, the editor, the military experts, the Ben Kanes, the agent, the Conn Igguldens, the Manda Scotts then the bloggers and reviewers – not one of them noticed those? And that’s just in the first fucking chapter! I really don’t have the will to photograph the rest of the book, though I can assure you there are many, many more. And many more (adding to the hundreds in Emperor’s Knives that is), ‘inclined heads,’ and the potentially dangerous ‘pursed lips.’ The latter can occur at any time, almost involuntary, it seems. Including while walking in front, parade-ground reviewing of battle-hardened, grizzled even, tough as stone, don’t-take-no-shit-from-anyone-not-even-a-little-bit-of-shit, Tungrian warriors. We aren’t informed if the Legate (I think it was) in question: A. Had his left hand on his hip, while the right hand made little a tea-pot shape B. Escaped without a severe beating.

There are so many a severe weather warning for a ‘blizzard of raised eyebrows’ should be issued. If you took them all out, you’d only have 200 instead of 399 pages of story left. More raised eyebrows than your average Benny Hill show.

And further reducing the page count if taken out, probably by (at least) another third, would be this sort of thing:

Chapter 12 1Chapter 12 2Chapter 12 3Chapter 12 4Chapter 12 5Chapter 12 6

That’s just from the last chapter, Chapter 12. I’m not really sure what to call this problem, maybe ‘repeats.’ The same word used repeatedly in a very short time, space, that sort of thing. Actually, if you took out all the ‘walls’ (with ramp/rampart in picture 3) you’d only have the Historical Note left.

But…what is the best of all. Before you even start reading, after you’ve flipped through the title and the who published this, etc, is the absolute cherry on top of the icing, the pyjamas of the cat, the god’s gift to me – this:


I’ll leave it there for you to fully appreciate its irony-free-ness a moment…

Three Blind Mice 2

The story? That’s OK, with the usual fixation with arses, cocks and goats and/or a combination of one, two or all three.

Note: Anthony, if you feel I could help another time, contact me. I used to do this sort of thing for a living.

Thunder Of The Gods is unavailable at The Book Depository, though Amazon will do you one in paperback

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