Review: The Encircling Sea – Adrian Goldsworthy

The Encircling Sea Adrian Goldsworthy

Series: Vindolanda II

My version: Hardback
Genre: Historical Fiction Second World War, espionage
Head of Zeus
First published: 2018
Pages: 486
Bought, signed

From the cover:
AD100 Vindolanda.
A fort on the edge of the Roman world.
Flavius Ferox, Briton turned Roman centurion, is charged with keeping Rome’s empire intact. But from his base at Vindolanda on the northern frontier of Britannia, he feels enemies closing in on him from all sides.
Ambitious leaders await the chance to carve out empires of their own. While men nearer at hand speak in whispers of war and the destruction of Rome.
And now new threats are reaching Ferox’s ears. Stories about the boat-dwelling men of the night, who have cursed the land and only come ashore to feast on men’s flesh. These are just rumours for now. But Ferrox knows that rumours stem from truth. And that no one on this isle is safe from the great, encircling sea…

The second in the Vindolanda series, Adrian Goldsworthy’s trilogy (?) about Roman Britain, set up around Hadrian’s Wall in the second century AD. It seems to be a trilogy, as there is a third book on the way, though it would be a shame if it didn’t continue after that, because it is so well done. From the look and feel of the book, to the story and the writing, Head of Zeus are the publisher to beat right now, if you ask me.

It really is wonderful to have such a well-written, impeccably researched Historical Fiction series set in Roman Britain, the northern Roman Britain, on the edge of the Empire as it was then, the edge of the world as the Romans knew it. The Encircling Sea, continues the good work from Vindolanda, with many of the same characters (battles permitting) and settings, but with a whole new set of problems.

The only quibble, the minutest minor not really a quibble at all, but then maybe…is the title. I, amongst other things while reading, like a good title and like figuring out how clever it is. Here, I really couldn’t see how it was relevant for the story. Sorry, Adrian.

Otherwise, it really is a book, a series, to dive into, forget yourself and drift back in time to the Roman’s hey-day In Britannia. If you have ever been to the (still) stunning, awe-inspiring magnificence that is Hadrian’s Wall, you will appreciate how a 2,000-odd year old can be brought to living breathing colourful life by black words on a white page. If you haven’t had the opportunity to visit the wall as yet, this series is turning out to be your perfect companion for that experience.

You can buy The Encircling Sea from The Book Depository

Header image by Toa Heftiba/Unsplash

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