Review: Betrayal – Anthony Riches

Series: Centurions 1

My version: Hardback
Genre: Historical Fiction, Romans, Germania
Hodder & Stoughton
First published: 2017
ISBN: 978-1-473-62871-7
Pages: 373 (383)
, signed

From the cover:
Rome, AD68. Nero has committed suicide. One hundred years of Imperial rule by the descendants of Julius Caesar have ended and chaos reigns.
His successor Galba, dismisses the incorruptible Germans of the Imperial Bodyguard for the crime of loyalty to the dead Emperor. Ordering them back to their homeland he releases a Batavi officer from a Roman prison to be their Prefect. But Julius Civilis is not the loyal servant of Empire that he seems.
Four centurions, two Batavi and two Roman, will be caught up in the intrigues and the battles that follow – as friends, as victims, as leaders and as enemies.
Hramn is first spear of the bodyguard. Fiercely proud of his men’s honour and furious at their disgrace, he leads them back to the Batavi homeland to face an uncertain future.
Alcaeus is a centurion with the tribe’s cohorts serving Roma on the northern frontier – men whose fighting skills prove crucial as Roman vies with Roman for the throne. A Wolf-Priest of Hercules, he wields the authority of his god and his own fighting prowess.
Marius is a Roman, first spear of the Fifth Legion, a self-made man who hates politics but cannot avoid them in a year of murderous intrigue.
Aquilius, former first spear of the Eighth Augustan, like Hramn, is in disgrace for refusing to dishonour his oath of loyalty. But their paths will lead them to opposite sides of an unforgiving war.
And Civilis, Kivilaz to his countrymen, heroic leader, Roman citizen and patriotic Batavi, will change both the course of the3 Empire’s destiny and of the centurions.

Well, it would seem that this is the one written after Mr Riches read my destruction well-reasoned critique of the laughably poor The Emperor’s Knives. I think. It’s been quite a wait to get to a book clearly written after that mauling, but I think Betrayal quite possibly is it. For the first half and most of the rest anyway. As The Centurions series seems to be a side-project, maybe he’s testing the waters with this book, seeing if a relatively cliché-free version of his Roman Army Rugby Club on tour books go down with the faithful.

The story, as you can read above, is standard fare, but the writing – for Anthony Riches – is much, much better. He consciously avoids people raising eyebrows and pouting, sorry, pursing their lips. It is a strain and he succumbs to the unbearable pressure a couple of times, but all in all I could read the majority of Betrayal without constantly peeling my eyes down off the ceiling.

All in all, not half bad. Only half though. He’s got a way to go yet.

You can buy Betrayal from The Book Depository

Photo of Germany (!), by Jason Leung on Unsplash

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