Thursday, January 14, 2016

"Britannia" - a review..

Difficult to believe that this is the fourteenth book in the series, but there is every evidence that Scarrow is getting better and better a s a writer..  some of the early ones were a little "clunky" at times, but this one is very polished, and well written..

I'll admit to wondering if there's very much more Scarrow can wring out of his unlikely pair of hero's, they've been all over the Empire in the previous 14 books, including Rome for a few of them, they've had political machinations, spying, fighting in the desert against the Palmyrans, but for the last few books they're back where the series started off in Roman Britain, in AD 52....

Caratacus has been captured and imprisoned, but now the Druids are providing the focus of the British tribal opposition to Rome.
The acting governor, Legate Quintatus, is due to leave for another posting and comes up with the idea of a lightning strike at the centre of the Druid resistance (the Island of Mona, or Anglesy) in the dead of winter, and the Blood Crows - the Thracian auxiliary cavalry unit commanded by Cato - are called upon to spearhead the attack.

Before they can leave though, Macro is wounded, and forced to remain behind as garrison commander of a frontier fort. While Cato scouts for the Roman army and faces his own battles and skirmishes, at the fort, Macro discovers that the Roman army is in danger from a second British army that they are not aware of, and which is planning to attack them while they are focussed on the British forces defending Mona. He leaves with a small party and eventually rejoins the main force with his news which at first is ignored, but then proven right.

Cue the later part of the book which shows that the Roman Imperial army was not a complete stranger to defeat. In this case in the depths of winter a retreat back to the Roman frontier, in the wilds of Wales, in the middle of a freezing winter, with little or no supplies...   reminded me of Bonaparte's retreat from Moscow. Some excellent battle scenes especially his description of Roman artillery in action...

Cracking stuff..  8/10.

2 comments:

  1. Looking forward to reading this. I also recently picked up Invader by Simon Scarrow and T J Andrews set in Britannia. Hopefully it'll also be a good 'un!

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    1. Gordon- I saw that ("Invader")... be interested in your views when you've read it as I'm a bit cagey about jointly written books...

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