Rats are always bigger than you expect.' Falco, ancient Rome's hangdog investigator, hates sharing a cell with a rodent - though being bailed by his old mother is almost as embarrassing. His high-born girlfriend can't decide if she wants him, and Titus Caesar's reward for past services is a wet fish. Hoping for a better life, or at least a better apartment, he takes on new clients. On the elegant slopes of the Pincian Hill, three nouveau riche freedmen with two flashy wives are under siege by a clever redhead.
"I still can't believe I've put the bastard away for good!" Petro muttered.' Petronius Longus, captain of the Aventine watch and Falco's oldest friend, has finally nailed one of Rome's top criminals. Under Roman law, citizens are not imprisoned but are allowed 'time to depart' into exile outside the Empire. One dark and gloomy dawn, Petro and Falco put the evil Balbinus aboard a ship. But soon after, an outbreak of robbery and murder suggests a new criminal ring has moved into Balbinus' territory.
"Spoilt by the narrator"
I was the new boy, so they saddled me with the worst jobs.' Rome, AD 71. Against his better judgement, Falco secretly disposes of a decayed corpse for the Emperor Vespasian, then heads for the beautiful Bay of Naples with his best friend Petronius. He conveniently forgets to mention to his companion that this will be no holiday. They have been sent to investigate the murderous members of a failed coup, now sunning themselves in luxurious villas and on fancy yachts.
"good story, performed by pensioner!"
I was just a freelance hero doing his best in a hard world.' The spirit of adventure calls Falco on a new spying mission for the Emperor Vespasian to the untamed East. He's picking up extra fees from his old friend Thalia the snake dancer as he searches for Sophrona, her lost water organist. With the Chief Spy Anacrites paying his fare, Falco knows anything can go wrong. A dangerous brush with the Brother, the sinister ruler of Nabataean Petra, sends Falco and his girlfriend Helena on a fast camel-ride to Syria.
"Missing Christian Rodska"
What did he eat last? Whom did he eat, in fact? Lumbered with working alongside reptilian Chief Spy Anacrites, Falco has the perfect plan to make money - he will assist Vespasian in the Emperor's 'Great Census' of AD 73. His potential fee could finally allow him to join the middle ranks and be worthy of long-suffering Helena Justina. Unexpectedly confronted with the murder of a man-eating lion, Falco is distracted from his original task, uncovering a bitter rivalry between the gladiators' trainers.
"Falco gets a partner"
"I've always wanted to see something of the Empire outside Rome." AD 71. Germania Libera: dark, dripping forests inhabited by bloodthirsty barbarians and legendary wild beasts, a furious prophetess who terrorises Rome, and the ghostly spirits of slaughtered Roman legionaries. Enter Falco, an Imperial agent on a special mission: to find the absconding commander of a legion whose loyalty is suspect.
"Narrator not well cast."
"All the problems I know about are family ones." A frightened child approaches Roman informer Falco, pleading for help. Nobody believes Gaia's story that a relation wants to kill her--and neither does he. Beset by his own family troubles, by his new responsibilities as procurator of the sacred poultry, and by the continuing search for a new partner, Falco turns her away. Immediately he regrets it. Gaia has been selected as the new Vestal Virgin, and when she disappears Falco is officially asked to investigate.
"Good story but spoilt by the narrator I prefer Rod"
Your brother seemed to know what he was doing.' Rome, AD 72. Falco returns home from a six-month mission to the German legions. But trouble is in store for him: his apartment has been wrecked by squatters and an ex-legionary friend of his colourfully heroic brother Festus is demanding money, allegedly owed him as the result of one of Festus's wild schemes. Worse still, the only client Falco can get is his mother - who wants him to clear the family name.
"Give the man a chance!"
"The first concern of an author is to do down his colleagues." In the long, hot Roman summer of AD 74, Falco, private informer and spare-time poet, gives a reading for his family and friends. Things get out of hand, as usual. The event is taken over by Aurelius Chrysippus, a wealthy Greek banker and patron to a group of struggling writers, who offers to publish Falco's work.
"Narrator lets it down."
This was a lonely place for anybody to be brought to die.' In the wealthy town of Ostia, our hero Falco appears to be enjoying a relaxing holiday. But when his girlfriend, Helena, arrives carrying a batch of old copies of the Daily Gazette - with the intention of catching up on the latest scandal - Falco is forced to admit to Petronius his real reasons for being there. 'Infamia', the pen name of the scribe who writes the gossip column for the Daily Gazette, has gone missing.
"great escapism ,"
Twelth Century, Italy. The domination of the Normans, the most feared warriors in Christendom, is causing trouble. At their head is the feared Robert de Hauteville, the 'Guiscard', who has colonised much of Italy and now commands the triple Dukedom of the extended Norman family, but Robert has made many enemies, including the ever-powerful papacy in Rome.
In the high days of the Raj, Captain Toby Larburgh meets a stranger in Calcutta's Great Eastern Hotel. Over a drink Toby tells of his adventures in the mountains of British India's northern borders. His quest to find out what lay behind the death of a local Imperial agent took him to the far-flung reaches of the British Empire, the distant princely state of Ghondabaur. When he reaches the lavish palace, he encounters a prince who is desperately attempting to save his father's kingdom from brutal invaders.
"A confusing book."
It is 1862, though not the 1862 it should be. Time has been altered, and Sir Richard Francis Burton, the king's agent, is one of the few people who know that the world is now careening along a very different course from that which Destiny intended. When a clockwork-powered man of brass is found abandoned in Trafalgar Square, Burton and his assistant, the wayward poet Algernon Swinburne, find themselves on the trail of the stolen Garnier Collection of black diamonds.
"This book is fantastic"
Lucius Falerius is dead, and Rome in its entirety mourns the passing of its most powerful senator. It falls to his son Marcellus to carry out his father's legacy and restore the rights promised to the defeated Sicilian slaves, yet there are those who will not see the honour of Rome compromised and the slaves assuaged.
Aulus is dead. Hailed as a hero of the republic, his sons, Quintus and Titus have new and heavy responsibilities placed upon them. Lucius, now the most powerful - and sinister - senator in Rome, is keen to manipulate the Cornelii family to achieve his own goals. Meanwhile the young Aquila lives in Spain with dreams of becoming a powerful solider to fight for Rome, and discover his destiny, hidden within his Eagled amulet.
He has no money, no reputation and no famous ancestors.' The love story of the Emperor Vespasian, who brought peace to Rome after years of strife, and his mistress, the freed slave woman Caenis, this book recreates Ancient Rome's most turbulent period - the reigns of Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius and Nero and Vespasian's rise to power. As their forbidden romance blossoms, Caenis is embroiled in political intrigue, while Vespasian embarks on a glorious career.
"What a lovely story!"
The year 1096. The Pope has called for a Crusade to free Jerusalem, and half the warriors of Europe have responded. Among them is the Norman, Count Bohemund, one-time enemy of Byzantium, whose help is required if progress is to be possible. In company with his warrior nephew, Tancred of Lecce, Bohemund must once more cross the Adriatic to the lands of the Byzantine Empire.
With barbarians at the gate and enemies within, two men must fight for the soul of the Republic. In a cave hacked out of rock two young boys appeal to the famed Roman oracle for a glimpse into their future. In the flickering torchlight the Sybil draws the blood-red shape of an eagle with wings outstretched: an omen of death. As they flee the cave in fear, Aulus and Lucius make an oath of loyalty until death. An oath that will be tested in the years to come. Narrator Nick Boulton brings this story of prophecy, courage, history and adventure to powerful life....
Africa, 1863. Sir Richard Francis Burton is an explorer, a linguist, a scholar, and the king's agent - or is he a puppet being manipulated by forces he cannot understand? A race to find the source of the Nile! Algernon Charles Swinburne is a famous young flame-haired poet, thrill-seeker, and follower of the Marquis de Sade. Here they are, back to where the adventure began. It is 1863, but not the one it should be. Time has veered wildly off course, and moves are being made that will lead to a devastating world war.
"A Weak End to a Great Series"
They were men born to fight. If God willed that Antioch was the place where they gave up life, so be it. Thanks to the stratagems of Bohemund de Hauteville, leader of the Apulian Normans, the Crusade has taken the city of Antioch, and just in time. Once the besiegers, Bohemund and his men are about to become the besieged - a huge Turkish-led army, commanded by the fearsome General Kerbogha, is fast approaching. Provisions are needed to support not only the army, but also thousands of camp followers and pilgrims.
In a triumphant return to his much-loved Courtney series, Wilbur Smith introduces us to the bravest new member of the famed family, Saffron Courtney. Saffron grows up on a sprawling Kenyan estate, under the watchful eye of her father, prominent businessman and distinguished war veteran Leon Courtney. Her childhood is idyllic until a family tragedy forces her to grow up much faster than necessary. As she grows into a spirited teenager, her thirst for knowledge and adventure leads her to England.
"warning! impossible to put down, until the end."
Arthur Wesley (the future Duke of Wellington) was born and bred to be a leader. With a firm belief that the nation must be led by a king, the red-coated British officer heads for battle against the French Republic, to restore the fallen monarchy. Napoleon Bonaparte joins the French military on the eve of the Revolution. He believes leadership is won by merit, not by noble birth. When anarchy explodes in Paris, he's thrust into the revolutionary army poised to march against Britain.
"Well worth a listen"
The brand-new novel in Bernard Cornwell's number one best-selling series on the making of England and the fate of his great hero, Uhtred of Bebbanburg. BBC2's major TV show The Last Kingdom is based on the first two novels in the series. From the day it was stolen from me, I had dreamed of recapturing Bebbanburg. The great fort was built on a rock that was almost an island; it was massive, it could be approached only on land by a single narrow track - and it was mine.
"Another brilliant story"
The Pillars of the Earth tells the story of Philip, prior of Kingsbridge, a devout and resourceful monk driven to build the greatest Gothic cathedral the world has known... of Tom, the mason who becomes his architect - a man divided in his soul... of the beautiful, elusive Lady Aliena, haunted by a secret shame... and of a struggle between good and evil that will turn church against state, and brother against brother.
"The Pillars of the Earth"
On the day after Halloween, in the year 1327, four children slip away from the cathedral city of Kingsbridge. They are a thief, a bully, a boy genius, and a girl who wants to be a doctor. In the forest they see two men killed. As adults, their lives will be braided together by ambition, love, greed and revenge. They will see prosperity and famine, plague and war.
"Great for long journeys"
The fourth chronicle of Matthew Bartholomew continues the adventures of the 14th-century Cambridge physician when he is called to attend to two deaths from some poisoned wine. The opening of a new and very well-endowed college has created petty infighting amongst the academics as new appointments are made. The winter and spring have been appallingly wet, there is a fever outbreak amongst the poorer townspeople and the country is not yet fully recovered from the aftermath of the plague.
The first novel in Simon Scarrow's bestselling Roman series. It is 42 AD, and Quintus Licinius Cato has just arrived in Germany as a new recruit to the Second Legion, the toughest in the Roman army. If adjusting to the rigours of military life isn't difficult enough for the bookish young man, he also has to contend with the disgust of his colleagues when, because of his imperial connections, he is appointed a rank above them.
In the last years of the ninth century, King Alfred of Wessex is in failing health, and his heir is an untested youth. The Danes, who have failed so many times to conquer Wessex, smell opportunity.... First comes Harald Bloodhair, a savage warrior leading a Viking horde. But Alfred still has the services of Uhtred, his unwilling warlord, who leads Harald into a trap and, at Farnham in Surrey, inflicts one of the greatest defeats the Vikings were ever to suffer.
"Where is Jonathan Keeble?"
The Generals is the compelling second novel in Simon Scarrow's best-selling Wellington and Napoleon quartet. In the turbulent aftermath of the French Revolution, Napoleon Bonaparte stands accused of treachery and corruption. His reputation is saved by his skill in leading his men to victory in Italy and Egypt. But then he must restore order in France and find peace or victory over her enemies: England and Arthur Wellesley (the future Duke of Wellington).
"Well written and read l would recommend this book"
The second novel in Simon Scarrow's best-selling Roman series. When Centurion Macro arrives on British soil as one of Emperor Claudius's invasion force in 43 AD, he is facing one of the toughest campaigns of his battle-scarred career. In a series of bloody skirmishes, Macro and his young subordinate, Optio Cato, and the desperately outnumbered Roman army must find and defeat the enemy before he grows strong enough to overwhelm the legions. But the Britons are not the only foe facing Macro and Cato....
England, 1346. For Thomas Blackstone the choice is easy - dance on the end of a rope for a murder he did not commit, or join the king's invasion. As he fights his way across Northern France, Blackstone learns the brutal lessons of war. Vastly outnumbered, Edward III's army will finally confront the armoured might of the French nobility on the field of Crécy. It is a battle that will change the history of warfare.
First conceived during a rainy summer holiday in the Highlands of Scotland in an attempt to amuse his stepson, Treasure Island began with the map. Young Lloyd Osbourne had drawn a crude version of an island, and Stevenson, looking over the boy's shoulder, began to elaborate, christening various curves and smudges the famed names of Skeleton Island and Spyglass Hill and finally adding the three red crosses marking the buried treasure.
It is spring 45 AD and Centurions Macro and Cato, dismissed from the Second Legion in Britain, are trapped in Rome, waiting for their involvement in the death of a fellow officer to be investigated. It is then that the imperial secretary, the devious Narcissus, makes them an offer they can't refuse: to rescue an imperial agent who has been captured by pirates operating from the Illyrian coast. With him were scrolls vital to the safety of the Emperor and the future of Rome.
"I Finally Caved In!"
A story of love, war, loyalty and betrayal, Excalibur begins with the failure of Lancelot's rebellion and the ruin of Arthur's marriage to Guinevere. The Saxons, sensing the disunity of the Britons, seize the chance to destroy Arthur. The climax of the war comes with the legendary triumph at Mount Badon, and Arthur`s great victory. But the promises he made then come back to haunt him after the years of peace and glory.
Matthew Bartholomew, doctor of medicine and fellow of Michaelhouse, Cambridge, is travelling with a party from the college to accept the gift of the living of a parish in Suffolk. One of his companions, Unwin, an unworldly scholar, is to be installed as priest. Their journey is not without incident - they are chased by footpads, pass through an eerie village abandoned after the recent plague and find a man barely alive on a gibbet - so they reach their destination with some relief. But their thoughts of recovering while enjoying the local Pentecostal Fair are soon curtailed.
Julius Caesar has taken his legions north into mighty battles with the Gallic tribes. But as his successes mount, overwhelming ambition and new alliances begin to threaten his friendship with Marcus Brutus, brother-in-arms and fellow warrior. Although the conquest of Gaul has made Caesar a hero all over again, his victories on the battlefield cause still more rivalries at home. And ultimately Caesar and Brutus will have to choose whether to cross the Rubicon - together or singly - and to take the fight to Rome itself.
"Excellent despite poor narration"
The third novel in Simon Scarrow's best-selling Roman series. After a series of bloody battles, Camulodunum (modern-day Colchester) has fallen to the invading Roman army. The Emperor has returned to Rome, leaving the fearless Centurion Macro and his young Optio, Cato, to rest and regroup, along with the rest of the Second Legion. As their leader, General Plautius, plans the next phase of their campaign, word arrives that the ship carrying his family to join him was wrecked in a storm off the south coast.
"And here I'm stuck!"
Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin are ordered home by despatch vessel to bring the news of their latest victory to the government. But Maturin is a marked man for the havoc he has wrought in the French intelligence network in the New World, and the attentions of two privateers soon become menacing. The chase that follows through the fogs and shallows of the Grand Banks is as thrilling, as tense and as unexpected in its culmination as anything Patrick O'Brian has written.
"A creditable action!"
The newly promoted Captain Richard Sharpe clashes with an incompetent colonel, leads his men in the battle of Talavera and earns himself a dangerous enemy. As Sharpe leads his men in to battle, he knows he must fight for the honour of the regiment and his future career. Soldier, hero, rogue - Sharpe is the man you always want on your side. Born in poverty, he joined the army to escape jail and climbed the ranks by sheer brutal courage. He knows no other family than the regiment of the 95th Rifles.
This tale begins with Jack Aubrey arriving home from his exploits in the Mediterranean to find England at peace following the Treaty of Amiens. He and his friend Stephen Maturin, surgeon and secret agent, begin to live the lives of country gentlemen, hunting, entertaining, and enjoying amorous adventures. Their comfortable existence, however, is cut short when Jack is overnight reduced to a pauper with enough debts to keep him in prison for life. He flees to the continent to seek refuge.
"Not my favourite"