It is AD69 and the year of the three emperors but Vitellius sits uneasily on his throne. Disliked by the people of Rome, it is only his army and the ruthlessness of his brother, Lucius that is keeping him on it.
Out in the East, General Vespasian is resisting all attempts by his army and advisers to declare him emperor but when an assassination attempt is narrowly foiled he knows he must send his army west and face Vitellius face on. With the love of his life and his youngest son both in Rome, Vespasian know they will both be in danger the moment he declares his intentions.
With this in mind he dispatches the spy Pantera to Rome with two tasks, ensure the safety of Vespasian’s loved one and to do everything in his power to secure the throne for him.
So Pantera must enter the murky world of Roman politics, desperately trying to avoid Lucius’s men as they use torture and fear to try and hunt him down but this is what Pantera lives for and finding him won’t be easy.
Aided by disparate group, none of whom he can entirely trust Pantera faces his toughest challenge as he tries to deliver to his master the greatest prize of them all: The Throne of the Roman Empire.
Rome: Eagle of the XII was my favourite books of 2012 so it wasn’t with a little trepidation that I started reading The Art of War and wondering how M.C. Scott was going to improve on the brilliance of that book.
Did I need to worry?…….Of course I didn’t!
As with every book in the Rome series each book has got better and better. What is so refreshing about these books is that each one if entirely different from its predecessor.
Characters who you love in one book, will only have a cameo in the next, one book will be about the Legions, the next about spying and politics. This approach keeps every book fresh and exciting and Art of War is no different.
Written from the viewpoint of multiple characters, each chapter is narrated by a different character (main characters have multiple chapters but spread over the book). This gives the story such a depth that it leaves you breathless as you follow Pantera for one chapter then rush back in the opposite direction with another character then jump across to the enemy as they hunt them both.
With this approach it means you invest a lot of time with each character and develop a real bond with them, it also means when I read of the enemy approaching or treachery I found myself shouting at Pantera to watch out!
It makes for fantastic reading and takes real skill to mesh the individual stories together into a coherent narrative but if any author can pull it off then it is M.C Scott.
If you have never read any of Rome Series then I command you to start with Rome: The Emperor’s Spy and read each book in turn and watch a series develop and grow into some of the best books I have ever read.
Book of the year in March? It will take some beating!
I can not recommend M.C. Scott’s books anymore highly and I can not wait for her take of Joan of Arc.
M.C. Scott was a horse vet in Newmarket when she began writing novels, with the result that horses feature strongly in her early work.
Her first four works were all contemporary thrillers: her first, ‘Hen’s Teeth; was shortlisted for the Orange Prize, ‘No Good Deed’ was nominated for an Edgar Award in the ‘Best Crime Novel’ category.
Having served her writing apprenticeship, she went back in time to write the bestselling Boudica series. Her latest ‘Rome’ series starts with Rome: The Emperor’s Spy and continues with Rome: The Coming of the King, Rome: The Eagle of the XIIth and Rome: Art of War (Due 2013). All are set in the mid-late 1st Century AD, and features the assassin and spy, Sebastos Pantera.
When she’s not writing, she’s competing at agility, breeding future competition superstars or attending seminars and camps on how to train same. And reading. She reads incessantly.