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Publisher's Summary

Brought to you by Penguin.

AD 400. Rome and its Empire are failing....

Veteran cavalry commander Marcus Flavius Victor sets out with his regiment to make what may be his final tour of the forts along Hadrian's Wall.

Through a combination of military prowess, brutality and bribery, Marcus has spent 20 years keeping the savage Picts at bay. Feared by his enemies and hated by his superiors, his strength of will is the only thing that has held the disgruntled, poorly paid garrisons of the Wall in place as the failing Roman Empire's grip on Britannia weakened.

Yet as this tour of the wall progresses, it becomes increasingly clear that this is more than a routine inspection. Why is Marcus stripping the defences of cavalry to strengthen his own force? Is he negotiating with the Picts—or conspiring with them? And who is the mysterious figure who follows Marcus' every move and yet hides in the shadows?

Segeduno, Cilurno, Brocolitia, Vindolanda: each fort holds memories and friendships, hides rivals or conceals enemies. But what exactly is Marcus Flavius Victor's ultimate objective? It would appear he is willing to risk bloody civil war in a bid to seize Britannia for himself? Or is he raising an army to save the province from the darkness that waits on the other side of the Wall?

Hailed as one of our very best historical novelists, Douglas Jackson returns to the world of ancient Rome with this epic novel of a failing empire and a world on the brink....

©2022 Douglas Jackson (P)2022 Penguin Audio

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Very disappointing

I was very disappointed in this book, doubly so since I thoroughly enjoyed the entire Gaius Valerie's Verrens series and had high expectations for this work. About a third of the way in, I realized my expectations were not going to be satisfied. I soldiered through, but it became a real struggle to finish. I couldn't wait for the end, but not in a good way, only to get it over with and put it out of my misery. The plot was decent, but just, and the Houdini-esque escapes and almost ludicrously snatches of victory from the jaws of defeat were almost unbearable. I have rarely found a man character more unlikable or more cartoonist, not to mention two dimensional. I really only found one character interesting, the queen of the Picts. The others were unremarkable and totally forgettable ( in fact, as I write this, having just slogged through to the finale), I already cannot recall them. One semi-saving grace was the narration, but the best narrator in the world cannot transform a sow's ear into the proverbial silk purse. But try he did, valiantly actually, but destined to be in vain, sadly. I write this with a heavy heart (and a heavy hand) because the dashing of high hopes is a painful experience. I will not let this writing faux pas taint my appreciation of Jackson's other works, but I hope he can return to form in future and, as it were, get his game back. I, however, have no desire to pursue this series.

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