Hero of Rome is Douglas Jackson’s new trilogy featuring Valerius Verrens. For fans of the authors previous books (Caligula and Claudius) this book will come as a real treat.
It is twenty odd years since the invasion of Britain and the Legions are still campaigning in the north and west of the country. As far as the Roman administration are concerned the south is pacified and on its way to being romanized. Unknown to them, the Druids are stirring up resentment and anger among the tribes and are awaiting for the spark to ignite rebellion!
Blissfully unaware of any of this is our hero Valerius. He is a Roman Tribune sent to the town of Colonia (Colchester) to take command of the veteran legionaries who now live there. These veterans were part of the original army sent to conquer Britain in 44AD. Now they are old men and the good living has lead to many of them struggling to fit into their armor but under the command of Falco, they have maintained their military training and are still up for the fight.
Valerius makes contact with the Roman elite and the leading natives and also manages to fall in love with Maeve, daughter of a local romanized Briton. He also enjoys the delights of dining and hunting but out in the countryside the locals are chaffing under the Roman yoke. The spark the druids were praying for arrives when the local king dies and leaves his kingdom to his wife Boudicca.
The Romans take exception to this and decide to bring the tribe into the Pax Romana. While doing this, the soldiers flog Boudicca and rape her daughters.
This incident is all the excuse the tribe needs to rise up in revolt and the first town in their sights is Colonia and our hero Valerius.
I have always been a fan of the authors previous books. I have always enjoyed the pace of the stories and the level of detail gives you a great insight into the subject.
This book is a step up in my opinion. The plot is well worked out, I liked the build up to the revolt with the Romanized Britons seemingly enjoying their new found wealth while in the background the natives are building up to rebellion. The sub-plot of Valerius and Maeve is clever as it shows the conflict between the two cultures and the growing tensions within the town builds up nicely.
When the Rebellion breaks out the authors mastery of the subject really shines. The battle scenes are well written and you really feel for the old soldiers as they face the native onslaught. The temple scene is one of the best pieces of writing I have read this year, absolutely gripping and ghastly at the same time.
In a market already full of great Roman fiction with the likes of Kane, Riches and Iggulden, Doug Jackson certainly deserves to be mentioned in the same breath.
Hero of Rome was released in paperback this Month