The Blood of Rome

The Blood of Rome

Simon Scarrow
ARRSE Rating
5 Mushroom Heads
The latest adventures of Cato and Macro from Simon Scarrow.

Those of you familiar with these pair of Roman soldiers will need no introduction to them, those of you who haven’t picked up a Simon Scarrow book but who like stories of the Roman Empire particularly stories surrounding the army then I urge you to look up Scarrow and start reading the The Empire of The Eagle series, you won’t be disappointed.
This, The Blood of Rome is their latest military campaign which sees our two pals stationed in Syria on the Eastern outskirts of The Roman Empire.

Cato is now a Tribune and Macro is his senior Centurion and 2ic, Scarrow has done what he does best, setting the scene and the general atmosphere of the time, thus getting the reader enthralled in the book. The scene sounds very nice, lovely weather, a river to catch fish, Macro is in love with Cato’s house keeper and Cato has his little boy Lucius with him, who “uncle Macro” takes fishing, when the young lad gets bored he spies on Macro and his lover to find them “wrestling under a tree, poor Macro always loses these fights as he moans and at the end and falls asleep, exhausted by his exertions”. So military humour abounds but the good life is very quickly cut short as word has it that there has been a revolt in Armenia.

The Emperor has sent General Corbulo to Syria one of the most successful and respected Generals in the Empire to issue orders to Cato to take back Armenia and re install King Rhadamistus to the Armenian throne and bring it back into the Roman folds.

Sounds straight forward, a month or so marching, a quick siege of the city, kill the persons responsible for their tyranny and Bob's your uncle, back in time for lunch.

Not quite. First of all King Rhadamistus is a ruthless individual not liked by the population of Armenia, thus the revolt, secondly not only has Cato got to take the capital Artaxata but he has to escort the king from their base in Syria, and the king wishes to be known he is a king although General Corbulo has given written notice that Tribune Cato will be in command of the operation and that King Rhadamistus will be under Cato’s command and protection. This is where things get very political and Cato is now a politician as well as an army officer and attempting to keep the king and his troops onside is no easy task as the reader is soon to find out.

Cato informs the King that his troops will be under his command and although the King dislikes this idea he relents but finds it hard and begrudgingly watches as his troops are put to training by Macro under the supervision of Cato.
This is typical Scarrow, all within the first few chapters the main characters are introduced including some minor but important ones such as the Governor of Syria, Quadratus who has had it too good for too long and has to bow to General Corbulo’s demands and King Rhadamistus a giant of a man both physically and in character.

Then the time has come, Cato and Macro are on their way, once again the writing from Scarrow is flowing with military humour and quite a few expletives, more than I remember in any other Scarrow book as I recall. Macro and Cato don’t always see eye to eye and Cato has to remind his friend and Senior Centurion who is boss, this coupled with the in fighting and politics of keeping King Rhadamistus under control takes its toll on Cato with far reaching consequences as things are not quite what they seem. Macro has to bite his tongue on more than a few occasions and remind himself that military discipline comes first no matter what.

So a little teaser there but no more, surface to say that this is a nice sized book plenty of action, blood, as the title suggests, and gore abound within the pages and I assure you, you will find it hard to put down and all too quickly the story and last page is read.

A hardback at a published price of £20 but I’m sure you can get it for less and it it would make a great Christmas present to someone you know who like these series of books or even to yourself.

Another triumph for Scarrow and a resounding 5/5 mushroom heads.

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