Wednesday, November 2, 2011
Blog Tour: Soldier of Rome: The Legionary: A novel of the Twentieth Legion during the campaigns of Germanicus Caesar by James Mace
Soldier of Rome: The Legionary is an historical novel that follows the Roman wars in Germania in A.D. 15, and one Legionary's quest for revenge.
In the year A.D. 9, three Roman Legions under Quintilius Varus were betrayed by the Germanic war chief, Arminius, and then destroyed in the forest known as Teutoburger Wald. Six years later, Rome is finally ready to unleash Her vengeance on the barbarians. The Emperor Tiberius has sent Germanicus Caesar, his adopted son, into Germania with an army of 40,000 legionaries. They come not on a mission of conquest, but one of annihilation. With them is a young Legionary named Artorius. For him, the war is a personal vendetta - a chance to avenge his brother, who was killed in Teutoburger Wald.
In Germania, Arminius knows the Romans are coming. He realizes that the only way to fight the Romans is through deceit, cunning, and plenty of well-placed brute force. In truth, he is leery of Germanicus, knowing that he was trained to be a master of war by the Emperor himself.
The entire Roman Empire held its breath as Germanicus and Arminius faced each other in what would become the most brutal and savage campaign the world had seen in a generation; a campaign that could only end in a holocaust of fire and blood.
It’s not often you find a book about Roman soldiers that is not a textbook. It seems like a hard subject to move over into fiction, but this book was handled relatively well.
The story revolves Artorius, a young man who trains to become a legionary in the army. There are a lot of interesting details about Roman life, mainly about military training, which would be interesting for lovers of history. The quantity of fight scenes are well-executed, with the right amount of tension affecting the reader, but for those of you who get bored with action movies, the amount of tactical explanation might get a bit on the dull side. Even I, who love a good fight scene, found myself drifting in my reading during some of these scenes. There are good moments, though, some comedic scenes which are written with skill. What I felt the most was that it wasn’t as balanced as it could be. There were entire chapters of mostly action, while other ones were about trivial conversations that had little to do with the plot.
The characters are alright. Artorius, though brave, is not lovable, which is a problem since he is the protagonist. Some of the side characters, such as Magnus or Vitruvius, are much more interesting, much more rounded characters. The women are either all prostitutes or unfaithful girlfriends and wives, which was not too fun for me to read. I understand that there was no such thing as feminism in ancient Rome, but still, it gets frustrating to read about these pointless women passing like ghosts through men’s lives.
This is a hard one for me to recommend. I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t love it either. I think if there had been a stronger main character, it could have been good, but as it is, it left me with a bit of a hollow feeling. I have the second book in the series to review, and I’m not sure what to expect. Hopefully, Artorius will develop a bit more, enough for me to care for his success.