Marcus, Dubnus, Felicia,
Fortress of Spears is the third book in Anthony Riches Empire series. Set around AD 182 it follows the life of Centurion Marcus Aquila, better known to his friends as Corvus. Marcus is a fugitive from the Roman state. His father was wrongly accused of treason and executed by the Imperial palace. To save Marcus’s life he was sent to the province of Britannia at the borders of the Empire where he serves as an auxiliary Centurion. This book sees Marcus’s century return to the battle against the British rebel Calgus. After defeating Calgus’s forces after the bloody battle of Lost Eagle, Marcus’s cohort is sent further north into hostile territory with his ally Prince Martos. Their aim is to liberate the Prince’s capital Dinpaladyr (or in Latin the fortress of a thousand spear shafts) from his sworn enemies the Selgovae.
Meanwhile and unbeknown to Marcus, a group of assassins has been sent from Rome to find him. These assassins are lead by the ruthless Praetorian Centurion Quintus Sestius Rapax and his cunning partner Centurion Tiberius Varius Excingus. These two Centurions will stop at nothing to find their prey, even kidnapping Marcus’s fiancée Felicia as bait to draw Marcus into their trap. Has Marcus’s past finally caught up with him? And will he feel the wrath of the Imperial palace.
I have really enjoyed this series so far. The books are really fast paced as the campaign in Northern Britain becomes fiercer and bloodier! The sub-plot of Marcus’s treason adds another dimension to these novels that I think some other novels about Rome lack. I have to say, I prefer Simon Scarrow’s and Conn Iggulden’s books a little bit more than Riches' but I do really enjoy his work. This book in particular was brilliant. It was so fast-paced! Leading from battle to battle and murder to murder, making it such a thrill because you just wanted to read on and on! I also love the character of Marcus, he’s such a bad ass! Fighting with two swords, wanted by the Emperor, a young and talented leader, what’s not to like about him?
This was an excellent book. I would suggest this book to anyone who is a fan of Simon Scarrow’s Eagle series and Conn Iggulden’s Emperor series. Reading all of these series really gives you a timeline of the Roman occupation of Britain. First you have Iggulden and Caesar’s first invasion. Then you have Scarrow with the first conquest of Britain. And finally Riches with Hadrian’s Wall built and the Roman effort to push north of it. If you are into the history of the Roman invasion and occupation of Britain then all of these series put great stories to the facts many of us already know.
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