After years of war, Rome is finally ready to sign a historic peace treaty with the Persian Empire. Before signing the treaty the Persian’s are demanding the return of Faridun’s Banner, their ancient battle standard that has fallen into Rome’s hands.
Imperial agent Cassius Corbulo is summoned from his self imposed exile in Asia Minor. Traveling to the war torn province of Syria with his faithful slave Simo he is given the mission to find the banner and save the treaty.
With the ex-Gladiator Indavara as a bodyguard, Cassius must survive numerous skirmishes and assassination attempts as he enters the murky and dangerous world of Syrian politics.
Not knowing who he can trust, he must contend with traitorous Romans, Palmyran rebels and bandits. He also knows that if he doesn’t find the banner he can kiss his career goodbye.
With the clock ticking down, can he find the banner and prevent Rome and the Persian Empire from sliding back into war?
With Historical fiction market already saturated with Roman books I was a bit skeptical about this book. I mean were does another Roman book fit when you already have the likes of Ben Kane, Doug Jackson and Anthony Riches to name but three?
Well, fit it does. I have to say that thoroughly enjoyed this book, it is well written and has a great pace about it. While is may not have the big set piece battles that normally accompany a book about the Romans, it does has intrigue, danger and a healthy dose of detective work as Cassius searches for the banner.
Talking of Cassius, he is one of the main reasons this book is so good. He isn’t your normal run of the mill Roman hero, in fact he isn’t any sort of hero. For a solider of Rome he is scared of confrontation, useless in a fight and more interested in chasing the ladies than beating Rome’s enemies.
What he is though, is a great investigator and with Indavara to do the fighting for him he can concentrate on finding the banner and stop war breaking out.
Another aspect of the book I enjoyed was the travel across the war torn province of Syria. As we accompany Cassius across the province we see the devastation that war has brought and the struggle that Rome faces to reassert its control.
I love the descriptions of the dangers on the roads and the desolation of the far flung way stations, as small pockets of Roman legionaries try to hunt down the last few Palmyran rebels and contain the bandits infesting the province.
With a great cast of secondary characters and a mystery that keeps you guessing until the end this is a excellent book and if you like your Romans, then you should read this book!
The Imperial Banner is available in Paperback.