Friday, February 25, 2011

"Stuff"...

Zounds!! Two weeks since the last post.... what the hell is going on... apologies chaps - "plenty" is the answer, but not all of it strictly wargame related (as anyone who visits my boat blog can see!)

So - plenty of action, but all available mental resources are fairly heavily aimed at getting "Papillon" (my boat) ready for the water - with the launch date set for the 21st March and an 'interesting' job list to complete before then (read "long" for interesting), I've been fairly focussed elsewhere...

It's not all been a dead loss however, DG & I continue to battle away at the American Civil war campaign, and having given him a bloody nose in the last engagement, we have now just met at "Waynes Junction" for what may be the deciding action in the campaign (but who knows!)

Last Saturday there was some much needed RnR with the annual/bi-annual (we'd like it to be bi-annual, but I'm not sure the current partners would agree!) pilgrimage to the home of Hop Back beers, the Wyndham Arms in Salisbury... an absolutely excellent day out (as usual), with all the usual culprits present, an astonishing (as in sized) full English breakfast to start the day, and then 6 or 7 pints of Hop Backs finest. We missed the "Winter Lightning" unfortunately, too late this year as it's only available in December, but on this visit I particularly liked their "Brewers Challenge" - a February 'special' brewed with Challenger hops (hence the name) but golden in colour and just packed full of citrusy bitter flavour - heartily recommended. All of this accompanied by large amounts of talking absolute rubbish about a vast range of inconsequential subjects (Free Happy Smileys), much laughter, and not a few games of "Shut the Box" which seems to lend itself to these proceedings like it was purpose made for the job.. which it is...



..a brilliant day out - looking forward to the next one already...

Which brings me to the picture top left - I hadn't meant to do a full review of "Wounds of Honour" as I don't do reviews for all of the books I read - it would get a bit tedious... in this case however, the more I look back on the book, the more I realise how much I enjoyed it, so by way of keeping the review to the left I decided to review it slightly more fully here..

This is the first volume in a series (have you noticed that no one seems to write single books any more!) based on the character Marcus Valerius Aquila, the son of a noted Roman senator, and a member of what was then called the equestrian class (the upper class, ruling types - what would later be called the aristocracy I guess - interesting that the name has horse/cavalry connotations though, it would imply that even in the Roman Empire, the home of the Legions, the cavalry/horsemen was noted as superior in some way).

The book is set in the reign of the Emperor Commodus (he of "Gladiator" notoriety), and a particularly "political" period of the Roman Empire - plots, denouncements, scheming, and an increasingly unpredictable emperor would have meant that Rome at the time would have been an unhealthy place to be a member of the equestrian class, and a senator. So it is that Marcus's father is put to death based on false evidence (and all of his family, who are also ordered to be put to death as was the way then) and Marcus suddenly finds himself the sole remaining family member...

All is not lost however, as by way of saving him from what he knows is coming Marcus's father has sent him north to Britain with urgent dispatches for one of his best friends - the dispatches of course are nothing of the sort - they give the word that he is about to be killed, with a request that the friend (a Legatus of an Auxilia cohort based on Hadrian's Wall) look out for Marcus and protect him if he is able.

Either way, having proven himself in a couple of skirmishes Marcus ends up as a very probationary centurion and soon sets about whipping his century into shape - just in time to take part in the revolt by the indigenous Britain's.

The detail on how the Auxilia is run is very good - roles and responsibilities of the centurions, how many there are (10 by the way), how many men in each century (about 80), weapons and armour (different to the main stream legions by the way - which I didn't know) - and all provided as part of the story so that you don't feel like you're being lectured to...

The language throughout is "soldierly", the battle descriptions are excellent (some of the best I've read since "Gates of Fire") and despite the initial implausibility of Marcus being accepted as a centurion, the strength and depth of the story and characters make it all entirely plausible in the end..

Well worth getting - Steve the Wargamer gives this one a nine out of ten - thanks DG! Free Happy Smileys

2 comments:

  1. Sounds like a good roman book and might check it out but usually that means I'll be back to purchasing romans, that sounded like a good day out with alcohol, bullshit and gaming.

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  2. Long or short I always appreciate your book reviews!

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