Saturday, January 28, 2012

'Praetorian' by Simon Scarrow


As a booklover first and a book seller second, one of the things that grates me more than anything is the person who comes up to me in the bookstore with a new hardcover and asks, “does this come in paper”?  If there ever was a case for modern day flogging, that would be it.  If you want a book, then you’ll GET the book!  I only say that to say this:  It took some juggling and a lot patience to get this book.  And while it wasn’t super expensive it wouldn’t have mattered anyway, because there was nothing that was going to stop me from getting this book.  Nothing.  Now that I’ve completely bored you with information that you could truly give a flying fig about, let me get to the book…

Only in Rome could politics be as dangerous and bloody as the battlefield.  Macro & Cato return to continue their forced servitude, care of the infamous snake, Narcissus.  These two have survived using their wits, their courage, their gall, their brutality, and their luck.  This time they’ll need all of that to work in concert in order to make it through the next Narcissu’s “Mission Impossible: Rome” adventure.  Basically there is a plot to murder the Emperor, Claudius, and our two soldiers are asked (yeah, right) to help uncover the conspiracy.  Of course the mission is never as straight forward as that, so while trying to figure out THAT simple mission they must also find out who is hoarding all the grain and starving Rome.  Yep.  How’s that for a to-do list? 

They must stop being soldiers for a while and become spies.  This involves interesting things happening to their rank and names.  Simon himself says that this isn’t the usual battlefield blood and gore that we’ve come to love but the adventure is still there.  I did miss reading about the legions cutting through bone and gristle to slaughter the enemy, but this book is in NO WAY a dud or boring.  I found myself feeling that paradox of loving this book and hating myself for flying through it because I’ll only have to patiently wait like Job for the next one. 

There are also a number of funny passages in this book when listening to Emperor Claudius and you will crack up at some of the things that Macro says to Narcissu’s face… and back.  Both of these legionaries have grown throughout this series and after eleven books, they are as family.  I don’t reread a lot of books, and I can name the ones that I have reread on one hand.  If I’m blessed to live a nice long life this will be a series that I will look forward to rereading in my golden years.  If I don’t live a long time, at least I’ve read them now.  Melodramatic?  Yeah… well who asked you?  Well done Mr. Scarrow… well done.

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