Publishers: Hodder & Stoughton
Cassius Corbulo, Indavara, Annia.
Joining the Imperial Security Service was supposed to be easy. Gaining the same rank as a Centurion without the risk of imminent death is a great perk to have in the Roman Army. However, so far Cassius Corbulo’s first few months in the service have been nothing less than dreadful. His first posting was to a small fort in Palmyra, which he valiantly defended against the rebellion of Queen Zenobia. Then having gained some glory in the service, Cassius and his servant Simo were tasked with retrieving the lost Faridun’s Banner, which was vital in gaining peace on Rome’s eastern frontier. Now Cassius and his new bodyguard Indavara have finally been given a task they can enjoy.
The mission is pretty simple. All Cassius and his retinue have to do is travel to the Greek island of Rhodes and pick up a message from the Deputy Commander of the Imperial Security Service. Cassius cannot wait for a long overdue holiday on an island that is brimming with culture, good wine and women. However as usual, Cassius is not that lucky. When he and his men arrive at the commander’s house they find that he has been brutally murdered and his body mutilated. The Commander’s daughter Annia, with her forthcoming manner and all out bossiness, persuades Cassius to pursue the murder inquiry and find those responsible for her father’s death.
After finding a Carthaginian captain to help them, the investigation takes Cassius and his men all over Rhodes and the Mediterranean. Dangerous storms and conflicts on the ship almost end the man-hunt. Nonetheless, when the crew finally arrives at a small Roman town on the North African coast, they realise that the murder and situation is grimmer than they expected. Cassius must use his cunning and the attributes of his men to find the puppet-master behind the Commander’s murder.
|My vision of Cassius and Indavara|
This is the third book in Nick Brown's Agent of Rome series and I have to say I really enjoyed it. I thought adding the murder/mystery element to the novel made it seem fresher than some other Roman historical fiction novels that can sometimes stagnate. I really liked learning more about the mysterious Indavara and thought that Cassius developed more in this novel too. He came across as the arrogant aristocrat that I believe he is. I liked this because I feel that other books in this genre always have a similar zero-to-hero protagonist who comes from a rich family and is forced to serve in the army. Cassius does fall into this category too, but I think by making him arrogant distinguishes him from other characters in other novels that always seem to take on the ‘one of the lads’ personalities. In real life I think there would have been a hierarchy, with the young aristocratic officers taking on an ‘us and them’ personality between themselves and the legionaries. This is what Cassius does in the book and it makes him seem more realistic.
I have to admit that some parts of the book I listened too via an audiobook. At first I really didn’t like the audiobook as the narrator used some very unusual accents for the characters. Cassius sounded a lot like Micheal Gambon, Simo (a Gaulish slave) had a scouse accent and Indavara sounded like he was from the east end of London! However, the accents grew on me and I found myself reading the book and giving the characters the accents in my mind!
I would suggest this book to anyone who is a Roman historical fiction fan. Like I said, it is different to most of the other series out there and was a very enjoyable book to read. I’m looking forward to the next one!
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