Praetorian by Simon Scarrow
Publication date: November 2011
Hardcover 368 pages
Also available as paperback, Kindle e-book and audio download
Book 11 in Simon Scarrow’s Roman Legion series, Praetorian continues the adventures of army veterans Macro and Cato. While Cato has grown up a lot over the series, he remains the intellectual and the idealist, while Macro continues to be a grumpy realist. In this episode, set in Rome in AD 50, the duo are manipulated by Narcissus into going undercover in the Praetorians to root out a conspiracy, a role they are don’t feel trained for. Starting again as mere legionaries, albeit in the prestigious Praetorians is a strange feeling after a long time in command, but they soon get their teeth into a plot that threatens to starve Rome, and topple the Emperor.
It never takes me long to finish off one of Scarrow’s book, partly because of “unputdownability,” and partly because the writing style is very easy to read. A light sprinkling of humour, together with puzzles and action make his books highly entertaining, and this book doesn’t disappoint, with no sign of the series running out of steam.
As characters such as Britannicus, Nero and Tigellinus are introduced, I wonder if Scarrow plans on extending the series into Nero’s reign, or even, with Vitellius making another appearance, into the year of the Four Emperors, which would be a thrilling time for Macro and Cato to be involved with. I fear though that Macro would be pretty ancient in terms of continuing active service 19 years from the time this book is set though.
I will review some of the earlier books in this series in due course. This isn’t necessarily the best place to start reading the series. However, the very first book, while a good starting point, isn’t my favourite. If you don’t intend to read all 11 books, but want to jump into the series a bit earlier, consider reading The Gladiator, or a bit earlier, The Eagle’s Prophecy.
Alex Gough July 2012