I already mentioned my interest in the Roman era, right? It’s a colorful period, full of events that—in the right hands—can provide an enjoyable background to a novel. Alex Gough, the author of Emperor’s Sword, has got the skills to do right by it, weaving an intricate yet realistic tale.
A desolate wasteland. A mission gone wrong. An impossible goal.
Roman scout, Silus, is deep behind enemy lines in Caledonia. As he spies on a raiding party, he is abruptly discovered by an enemy chief and his son. Mounting a one-man ambush, everything quickly goes wrong and Silus must run for his life, the head of the enemy leader in his hands. Little does he know the price he will pay...
As Silus is inducted into the Arcani, an elite faction of assassins and spies, he must return to Caledonia and risk everything in the service of his Caesar. The odds don’t look good. But failure is not an option.
A blood-soaked and unputdownable thriller set in Ancient Rome, anchored in detailed historical research, perfect for fans of Ben Kane, Conn Iggulden and Robert Fabbri.
The Imperial Assassin, Book 1
Saga Egmont Audio
Cover: Again, I’m a bit tired of characters facing away from the reader, but this trend seems to be all the rage.
Narrator: Very good fit. It took me a second to switch from the American accent to the British one of Thorpe—I’m not used to Brit accents, is all—but I enjoyed it to the max.
- Emperor’s Sword is the story of Silus, a Roman scout. He makes a mistake he ends up regretting dearly, but it’s a mistake that kick starts a vast change, both for himself and the Roman Empire. The Caledonian clans band together to beat back the legions, with Maglorix, Silus’ sworn enemy, as their leader.
- This is a brutal, crude story, and rightfully so. I’m talking style here, style and accuracy: Gough doesn’t go for a watered-down version of the Romans and the Barbarians, but portrays the two factions in a realistic way. Emperor’s Sword is a violent book; you won’t be spared any of the gritty details.
- I wasn’t expecting multiple POVS, as I was 100% happy with Silus’ one and I still believe that a single POV would have done Emperor’s Sword justice. However, Maglorix and Caracalla’s POVs help the reader understand the characters better. I’m not so fond of Maglorix per se, but his intelligence and his arrogance are showing.
- Speaking of Caracalla, he’s maybe the best character of the book. Smart, witty, interesting, I ended up rooting for him.
- Gough doesn’t pull any punches. His writing style is fast-paced for the most part, not dwelling into unnecessary parts. I’m always down for an author who’s able to tell a story without embellishments or descriptions. I hope to find the other parts of the series on NetGalley too, as I’d love to see what happens next.
- It drags a little in the beginning. Nothing major, and it picks up quite fast; however, the first action scenes read wooden. Silus does this, Silus does that – nah. I’m putting this down as growing pains, because the flow seems to smooth out after the first couple of chapters.
4,5 stars on GR, rounded up to 5.