Average User Rating:
  • Author:
    Simon Scarrow and T. J. Andrews
    "Invader" is the result of the amalgamation of five previously published ebook novellas featuring a new character, Optio Horatius Figulus. He is cast as a Gaul serving in the Roman army which, in itself, provides plenty of potential to develop a storyline with a different angle, with a non-Roman citizen in a command position. Sadly though, anyone hoping for a new hero cast in the mould of Cato or Macro is going to be bitterly disappointed.

    Figulus is, and remains, a one-dimensional character throughout the story; all he seems to do is fight and the fight scenes themselves are not that good. His character never develops and we receive no insights of his inner thoughts or feelings. The story simply moves from one battle to another with Figulus being used and manipulated by ruthless, sef-serving senior officers. His accomplishments and ability to survive simply defy belief as does his complete lack of planning.

    The storyline is weak and obvious, as are the "joins" between the previous ebooks. This is more like a storyline for a video-game or a comic strip. I fail to see which level of readership this book is aimed at; it is far too simplistic if not downright insulting of Scarrow's adult readership. Maybe young, male, adolescents are the target but I suspect they might be a bit more discerning if they are going to take the time to read a book.

    If you do feel the need to read "Invader" then borrow it from your local library, do not buy it. Normally such a book would be go very quickly to the charity shop or for recycling before reaching page 50, but it was read cover to cover so that others might not loose the will to live.

    A big fat zero.

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  1. joethethistle
    I have to admit I did enjoy this very much. I remember Figulus appearing in some of Mr Scarrow's earlier books where he was also trying more "magic" tricks. His name I believe when translated, comes out as something akin to Harry Potter. He also appears in a short story in "The Mammoth Book Of Roman Whodunnits" as the senior Centurion of the First Cohort of the 10th Legion at the siege of Jerusalem. So from a not very sophisticated Roman Optio to First Spear is a pretty good job.
    Just hope there is another in the series yet to come.
  2. Krazy_Ivan
    Despite my earlier comment, in a drunken moment of madness I bought this book on Kindle.

    As much as I hate to get the reverso-cycle out - I really enjoyed this book. Granted it's not as in-depth as Macro & Cato's adventures, but then as you get into the Figulus character, you realise that (bless him) he's not the sharpest tool in the box and being more junior, he doesn't have the same strategic picture which Macro & Cato have due to their rank and experience. Although you do see that spark at the start, when his centurion is injured and more senior responsibility is forced upon him.

    Perhaps it would be fairer not to compare 'Invader' to the Centurion series - I'd like to see Figulus "grow" and now that he's reached the centurionate - hopefully his development will kick off properly.

    Figulus is not without his charm and it's good to see the reappearance of Vitellus.

    I still have hopes that Macro & Cato end up being the two Praetorians who bring Vitellus's (eventual) reign to an end.
  3. Krazy_Ivan
    I agree with @Frog Hall, I'm very fond of the "Centurion" books too.
    I read the first of the novellas and wasn't too impressed, it's almost as if Mr Scarrow is trying to fit 400 pages of story into 70, by glossing over any of the interesting details. I wouldn't even say that these novellas are suitable for "young, male, adolescents", my 10 year old lad is quite happy to read Cato & Macro's adventures, without too much of a struggle.

    If you are after books for the younger chap (10-15 years old), Simon Scarrow's "Arena" novellas are well worth a read.
    1. foxtrot40
      Thanks. It's the interesting and historical details that really make Scarrow's books a worthwhile read. I have often thought that Scarrow, Cornwell, Iggulden etc weould be useful for teaching history such is their readability and veracity.
      foxtrot40, Feb 11, 2016
  4. Frog Hall
    I love the Cato and Macro books, thanks for letting me know to avoid this one.