Plot: Seeking reinforcements for his doomed legion, Aurelius embarks on a mission of even greater threat: rescuing the young emperor of Rome from the barbarians who seek to imprison him. Haunted by a past he can’t remember, Aurelius must confront himself as well as his enemies.
Ambrosinus left Britannia years ago to seek aid for his tortured country. Instead, he finds a new course, an emperor he believes is the key to a prophecy only he knows. Aiding his young emperor and their new friends, Ambrosinus leads the group towards a new dawn. One where legends are born amidst war.
Quote: `You too should be thinking about writing or reading at least. Reading helps us to forget our troubles, it liberates our spirits from the anxiety and boredom of everyday life, and put us in contact with another world.`
Opinion: This book has been on my TBR pile for ages as I had in my head it was a really thick book. While it took me a little while to read (which I enjoyed, too many books I’m finishing in a couple of days), I’ve certainly read thicker. I was drawn to it due to the Roman era but found it to be set slightly later than the ones I thoroughly enjoy. The Arthurian hints, however, rectified that as I have to admit to loving my legends.
The book is split into three parts, which effectively split into capture, flight, fight. There is a lot of travelling in this book – across the whole of Italy to Capri to Britannia – but the tension remains high with the constant pursuit and the confrontations along the way means it does not lose the reader.
While there were several characters included in the plot to free the emperor, the book focuses only on a few. Aurelius; the tormented soldier, Livia: the girl seeking a better life, Ambrosinus; the intellectual leader and Romulus; the boy emperor who has his life destroyed. These four come together in a tight knit of love and acceptance, their bonds stronger than the rest of the group. The other characters are there for back up and the reader is not given as much insight into their life.
All the characters grow and develop throughout the book. Aurelius, in particular, must face his demons of the past and future but gradually allows himself to love and have a family. Romulus grows up, from a frightened little boy to a young man determined to save those he cares about. Wulfila, the villain of the piece, is cruel and sadistic and makes the readers root for their heroes even more.
The end of the book caught me by surprise as it leads directly into the Arthurian legend. It was not an angle I had heard of before but was enjoyable to connect the two up.
It took me a while to read this book, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. I got swept up in the plot and the characters and thoroughly recommend it.