When the movie ‘Gladiator’ came out I wanted to name my son Maximus. When I saw Savion Glover dance I wanted to name him Savion. After I read this book I want to rename my son Rufio. Roman Centurions are the all too forgotten work horses of the Legions, but there are a few who, either by purpose or design, stand out. Rufio stands with both, and he does it in a way that is a quiet as gnat sleeping and as powerful as a pissed off Minotaur.
This story centers around a single cohort that must go to Judea to help Herod the “Great” hold his kingdom. The rub here is that Herod’s subjects don’t really like him… and neither does Rome. Unfortunately soldiers don’t have a say in whom they get to protect so it’s off to the desert they go. The soldiers are led by Crus, but as I’ve stated, Rufio is the character that you will follow from page to page. It takes a special soldier to punch you out at breakfast, yet you are still willing to give your loyalty to him by dinner. Rufio is the type of person that will eviscerate you with his right hand and protect a child from seeing your painful, smelly demise with his left.
My jealously with Rufio is obvious, but none so much more than when I read about him and Flavia. She is a true warrior seductress with a body that equals her passion and ferocity. While Rufio is the warrior poet, the surrounding cast of characters are the verses from which that poem is built. What I love about Roman novels is the TRUE friendship, the TRUE loyalty, killing TRUE enemies, and that TRUE feeling of “I wish I was able to live during this time”.
OK, back to the story (I do that a lot)… in this desert hell the Roman soldiers are outnumbered and out of their element. They must rely on help from the locals. Locals who don’t trust them anymore than the Romans like them. But each must get past their distrust for the greater good; ridding the bandit threat from King Herod. A weak king if I may be so bold. And what would a good Roman book be without blood, blood, and blood? There are certain things that I look for in a novel about Rome. Things that are completely hidden as I read the story, because I’m so taken with the story.
One last thing, this author loves horses and that is very evident in the telling of this story as well as the part they play in it. I think the best stories are made when you take made up characters and mix them with real passion. This book was a lot of fun to read and I love, love, love, love, books like that! It’s an authors job to take the reader to a place when they open a book, leave them to soar on the winds of the story, and then guide them back down after the trip. I’m happy to say that William does a very good job with this book and I have no doubt that you will enjoy it.