Richard Foreman’s SWORD OF EMPIRE: CENTURION
Book review by Dennis D. McDonald
The SWORD OF EMPIRE series of short novels follows the exploits of centurion Gaius Oppius Maximus, chief military troubleshooter to emperor Marcus Aurelius. CENTURION is the second in the series. The first is SWORD OF EMPIRE: PRAETORIAN which I enjoyed tremendously.
This time around it looks like Gaius Oppius is, whether he likes it or not, getting sucked into political intrigue in ancient Rome. I enjoy how Roman history and politics are intertwined with the story. It’s hard to say exactly what’s true and what’s fiction.
What does ring true are how personal details of both real and fictional characters are connected with the story. One scene early in the book, for example, the centurion chats with Marcus Aurelius about the politics of governing where references are made to the Emperor’s own writings. Later on the centurion attends a garden/cocktail party accompanied by his lieutenant. The party is sponsored by Marcus Aurelius’ sworn enemy who is secretly planning a coup.
The centurion doesn’t know about this yet but the reader senses the stage is being set for a major confrontation. That confrontation does occur and the reader is rewarded with a fiery and brutal example of urban warfare replete with fiery arrows, severed limbs, and charred corpses.
But that’s not all. What the author is doing is setting the reader up for a personal tragedy in the final chapter and a transition to more adventures in future volumes. I’m really looking forward to more in this series!
Review copyright (c) 2014 by Dennis D. McDonald