Yeah. Douglas Jackson can write. If I didn’t already know that from the other books of his I’ve read, this one would have confirmed it. “Happy is the book lover that finds an author that creates for him a world of adventure”. (Oh that is sooo going on FaceBook). A compliment can be a blessing and a curse so when you hear Douglas Jackson’s name being bantered around with the likes of Iggulden and Scarrow, you wonder which one it will be. To be fair, with only five books under his belt, vs. Iggulden’s and Scarrow’s four hundred (give or take) that comparison may not be fair either. But you know what? I really don’t care. (OK maybe I care a little) but my zeal for reading doesn’t come from author comparisons, it comes from their work. And Douglas my friends, is building one hell of a resume.
‘Avenger of Rome’ is just simply a damn good book. This is the third book in a series with Gaius Valerius Verrens and it is truly the best one. (sorry to sound cliché”) I do suggest that you read the first two because there is very good and very gradual character development that I LOVE in a series, not to mention all the blood, guts, and glory that any decent novel about Rome would have. On paper Valerius Verrens is a soldier. On anything else he’s a man with the luck of a broken mirror. In 2012 A.D. we have beautiful romantic ideas on what Rome was. But underneath every gorgeous city are the sewers. While Valerius doesn’t frequent that stench filled place, some of his orders were born there. Hence his mission in this book.
We’ve all heard about ‘Mission: Impossible’. How about ‘Mission: You’ve got to be out your damn mind”?! Of course with this order coming from Nero the Nutbag, he couldn’t really say that. Guys, when I say this is ‘Mission: WTF’ I truly mean it. Nero is more paranoid than Ann Coulter in Harlem and because of this, he has unleashed a plan that is as baffling as it is stupid. Douglas weaves a great story of Rome, her soldiers, her battles, her politicians, her enemies/friends, and more importantly, her contradictions.
Reading about Valerius has been an honest thrill, but this book pushes even that excitement over the edge. If you are looking for a magnificent Rome series to start fresh or one to read as you’re waiting for other ones to come out, I HIGHLY recommend this one. The fights are brutal and real, the missions are a jigsaw gumbo of duty vs. right and wrong, the blood flows, and the torture scenes… the torture scenes will have you asking yourself “were men truly this evil”? Then you read about Nero and you’re like “yeah, they were”.
While Douglas doesn’t have the bibliophile depth of Iggulden or Scarrow, he delivers a very strong addition to his repertoire that says, “yeah, not yet… but I will”. He keeps writing books like this and I will be one happy reader. Gratias tibi ago, Douglas.