Praetorian is the eleventh book in Simon Scarrow’s epic ‘Roman’ series, or as I like to call it ‘Marco and Cato’ series. This book sees Marco and Cato back in Rome awaiting their final appointments to Prefect and Centurion after their victory over the rebel Gladiator Ajax in Egypt. However, Rome and the Emperor Claudius come under threat from a group known as the Liberators, who want to return Rome to the ways of the Republic. The Emperor’s imperial secretary Narcissus blackmails Marco and Cato into becoming his spies. As the plot to depose the Emperor comes from within the ranks of the Claudius’ own troops the Praetorian Guard. The plan to uncover the plot is simple, return to the ranks of the Praetorian Guard, seek out any conspirators within the ranks and have them and the threat removed from the Emperor, easy. But as Marco and Cato find out, there is more than one conspiracy to depose the Emperor and they must stop them soon or all of Rome could be destroyed.
This was a great novel from Scarrow and even after eleven books in the series the plots still keep me wanting to read on and on. I thought this book was a change to the other books in the series. This was more of a mystery book as Marco and Cato try and uncover who is planning to kill the Emperor. Whereas the other books I think are more your historical fiction, filled with action, battles, and romance. For me this was a nice change as it just made me want to find out who the conspirators are. As always this book is well written. It is extremely detailed, really creating a feeling of what Rome looked, felt and smelled like in Antiquity. In places it is also very funny. This is because of the relationship between Marco and Cato. Cato is the young idealistic Prefect, deeply in love with a senator’s daughter. Marco on the other hand is the older legionary veteran, who likes nothing more than ‘good soldiering’. The friendship is unusual but makes for great reading.
This was a great book. I would suggest it to anyone who has read any of the other ‘Marco and Cato’ books (but read the others first or you may not understand this one!). I would also suggest this book to anyone who has read Conn Iggulden’s Emperor Series as that series is set a few centuries before and helps give context to the situation in the Rome of Marco and Cato’s time (plus they are brilliant books).