Thursday, December 29, 2011

Praetorian - a review..

Hard to believe that this is the 11th in the Macro and Cato series, and I look back with not a little fondness to those earlier books where the stories were firmly set in the Legions, and the adventures and dangers they faced were of the more "believable" kind....

These days however, Prefect Cato and his blunt sidekick Centurion Macro have caught the eye of one of the Emperor's special advisors, Narcissus, and as a result they tend to get involved in more high flown drama's...  think that's been the case for a few of the books now...  and this one is no different.

The Emperor (Claudius, as in the superb BBC drama series based on the Rober Graves Books "I, Claudius) is the subject of a plot to assasinate him by a shadowy Republican group. Implicated in the plot are members of his own personal guard, the Praetorian Guard, Macro and Cato are sent to Rome with new identities and placed undercover in the Guard to find out who the traitors are.

Set against the famines in Rome, with shortages of grain from Egypt, spectacular gladitorial games to distract the mob, riots, and a dangerous hunt to expose the traiters, Macro and Cato are now moving in exalted circles...  we are introduced to Claudius's stepson Nero (and given he was the son of Claudius's niece who Claudius had married shouldn't that be step-nephew??) his own son Brittanicus (who I'd not heard of before)

All in all this is an enjoyable romp, the back story is splendid (good detail on the Praetorian's), there is a reasonable plot twist, the baddies are nasty, and the goodies are believable...

Steve the Wargamer gives this one 7 or 8 out of 10; 8 I think as there are signs at the end of the book that more normal ventures may about to be thrust upon them....


  1. Santa bought me a Kindle and I have read the first two books in the series-previously I have had to grab what was available at the local library and have read 3 of them out of sequence. I will be reading my way up to this book as quick as I can!

  2. Santa bought the current Mrs Steve the Wargamer a Kindke this year as well... as an ardent bibliophile I was fairly dismissive, but having set hers upI have changed my mind significantly.... to the point I am thinking of one as well!

  3. I got this for Christmas, so apologies I skiped most of the post, because I don't want to read anything about the book! :0)

  4. Read the first two - still have them somewhere but "sharpes Romans" didn't appeal. Frankly none of the Sharpe-a likes- do really -even Sharpe - very samey and repetitive Mallinsons Hervey is a small exception better written and with more period feel than Sharpe for ancients try Graves and Sutcliffe.

  5. Have you read Colleen McCulloch's historical novels of Julius Caesar? Very close to history, and (but?) a good read.

    Britannicus, by the way, was Claudius's natural son, I think by Messalina. I'm pretty sure Agrippina (the Younger) wasn't his mother. Britannicus did not long survive his dad - Agrippina would have seen to that...
    P.S. the word verification today was 'somme' - very appropriate for a wargames blog...

  6. All the best for 2012 Steve