Review: Brigantia – Adrian Goldsworthy

My version: Hardback
Genre: Historical Fiction, Roman Britannia
Head of Zeus
First published: 2019
ISBN: 9781784978198
Pages: 452
, signed

Vindolanda 3

From the cover:
AD100. The edge of the Roman world.
Flavius Ferox is the hard-bitten centurion charged with keeping the peace on Britannia’s frontier with the barbarian tribes of the north. Now he’s been summoned to Londinium by the governor, but before he sets out an Imperial freedman is found brutally murdered in a latrine at Vindolanda fort – and Ferox must find the killer.
As he follows the trail, the murder leads him to plots against the Empire and Rome itself, and an old foe gathering mysterious artefacts in the hope of working a great magic.
Bandits, soldiers and gladiators alike are trying to kill him, old friends turn traitor and Ferox is lured reluctantly to the sinister haunts of the old druids on the isle of Mona, and the bitter power struggle among the Brigantes, the great tribe of the north…

Deftly defying the laws of diminishing returns for a Historical Fiction trilogy, Brigantia continues the good work laid out in Vindolanda and The Encircling Sea. Admittedly, it’s not as awe-inspiring as Vindolanda was, and we have been to the Isle of Mona a fair few times down the years in these here Roman epics, and I’m never a great one for druids, but it’s still an excellent, inspiring read.

However, I will suggest that he may possibly have had one too many liquid lunches with our good friend and general all-round Mr Roman, Anthony Riches. How’s that? Well, there are rather more of the Hist Fic clichés creeping in – I won’t list them now, even I am getting bored of that now – though, thankfully, not too many other of Tony’s (good friends get to call him ‘Tony’ or ‘Tone’) writing skills have rubbed off on young Adrian. He still uses ‘humping’ (as I’m absolutely sure was common for Roman soldiers of the time), instead of fucking, ‘hump’ for fuck, ‘humped,’ for fucked. “Hey! My kids have got to read this at some point!” as I suppose our Adrian might think.

Nontheless, it is a worthy follower and the finish (?) to the trilogy (?), the character of Flavius Ferox, the woman he loves, and the general setting in the far Britannia north of the Roman Empire has been, on the whole, superbly written, constantly interesting and has inspired me to both hope for a fourth volume, and/or seek out more information about this period. Can’t say better than that.

You can buy Brigantia from The Book Depository

Photo of Hadrian’s Wall by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

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