The Roman Empire is crumbling, and a shadow looms in the east....
376 AD: The Eastern Roman Empire is alone against the tide of barbarians swelling on her borders. Emperor Valens juggles the paltry border defenses to stave off invasion from the Goths north of the Danube. Meanwhile, in Constantinople, a pact between faith and politics spawns a lethal plot that will bring the dark and massive hordes from the east crashing down on these struggling borders. The fates conspire to see Numerius Vitellius Pavo, enslaved as a boy after the death of his legionary father, thrust into the limitanei, the border legions, just before they are sent to recapture the long-lost eastern Kingdom of Bosporus. He is cast into the jaws of this plot, so twisted that the survival of the entire Roman world hangs in the balance....
©2013 Gordon Doherty (P)2014 Gordon Doherty
I don't really like the style of the narrator. He made every sentence sounds as if it is a surprise and that really gives me a headache.
Very good book. l liked the author, Gordon Doherty 's style and went onto listen to his book Strategos, which is excellent and difficult to "put down "
Author of Wolf's Head, The Wolf & The Raven, Rise of the Wolf, Knight of the Cross and Friar Tuck & The Christmas Devil.
I'd read the Kindle version a year or so before – it was, in fact, my first ever ebook purchase if I remember correctly – and I knew it was a good read, so I wondered how this Roman historical fiction would translate to the audio format.
I'm happy to say it works a treat.
Pavo. He's pretty inept but grows as the book goes along.
Overall, this audiobook is a great listen. I do a lot of driving at work and sometimes I get sick of hearing Radio 5 Live or Slayer or Jethro Tull CDs, so it was a very welcome change of pace to have this on as I drove around the west of Scotland every day. It's also good value, lasting for quite a few hours, so don't let the price tag of these things put you off – a lot of work goes into this!
Whether you've read this book before or not, you won't be disappointed when you download the audio version. Give it a try. Doherty's writing has improved since this, his debut novel, so future audio versions of his books will be even better. I've just completed Legionary 3 – Land of the Sacred Fire and I'm looking forward to hearing it read by Simon Whistler, so...bring it on Gordon, we're waiting!
the story is interesting but like many roman stories can be similar to others
story moved along at a good pace and did not get stuck in one place for to long
i felt that simon whistler put in a lot of effort coming up with very odd pronunciations of roman names took a while to translate some of these
i had no emotional reaction to the book it was a good storey
i wish the readers would try and find out the normal or commonly used pronunciation rather alway come up with their own unique versions
"Decent book, stellar performance"
I would recommend this audiobook to anyone who loves a good adventure yarn and would enjoy following the travels of a boy battling for his life across the tapestry of a lush but brutal history.
Hard for me to say, as I'm not much of a historical fiction reader. If anything, though, I would say this reminded me of Louis L'Amour's "The Walking Drum." Lots of action, shallow characters, plenty of fun.
I enjoyed the bar scene in who Pavo drunkenly escapes a thrashing by kicking his far superior opponent in the privates -- not because of the cheap comedy, which wasn't bad, but because it encapsulates the sense of rowdy, slapdash, seat-of-your-pants action that typifies the story.
Simon Whistler's narration of this tale is a joy. His English accent gives it a sense of Old World majesty while his enthusiasm is infectious. He clearly enjoys the material (or he's very gifted at faking it). I would love to listen to more books read by him.
"A visceral historic cross-section"
Obvious care and painstaking work went into the military history of the piece. Armed units, organization and procedure rolled out with a feel of authenticity, and you could feel the author's enthusiasm for his work.
The ending provided a sequel hook by hinting a previously mentioned character would soon come into the story. This came out of the blue, however. The lack of context kept me from feeling the intrigue.
Simon's vocals are smooth and ambient. He makes the bone, blood and guts story pleasant to the ear, and oddly relaxing to listen to.
"Live by the Sword."
"I enjoyed this novel"
I was never a big fan of the historical type fiction, but since i listened to this i think my tastes may have changed. I found the story-line intriguing and it all flowed very well. I think the narrator did the book justice and i will definitely look for more from both the author and narrator.
Very good audiobook...Well paced, action book. The characters were well developed and make me care about them but not so much that dragged down the book. I recommend this book.
Thr dclinrr of the legio after contstinr,'s troops in to yl yhi lmiitani and comitatrnsrrs difdf not work work well for the legions set up zone
"Good listen, enjoyed Strategos more"
It was similar to Strategos, another title written by this author
He did an excellent job and I enjoyed his voice and reflections, very pleasant to listen to.
I was provided a copy for an honest review
"It almost worked for me"
Numerius Vitellius Pavo is a slave and a witch’s curse protects him from permanent damage or death at the hands of his owner, a senator of Rome. Set in 376 AD, Christianity is on the rise and the Roman empire has crumbled a bit at the borders. Pavo finds himself freed only to join the border legions who face near-certain death.
Young Pavo was a likable chap, though a bit boring in a permanently beaten puppy kind of way. I never really grew attached to him, so this book probably had less impact on me than other readers who do become attached to Pavo. He has a buddy, Sura, who is always telling tall tales and they watch out for each other through out the story. It was a cute best buddy friendship. Once they join up as trainees, there’s all sorts of hazing the young recruits must endure.
I did enjoy the political intrigue going on behind the scenes, especially back in Rome. Emperor Valens has plenty to contend with between the rising Christian church, and Goths and Huns pushing against the Roman borders. These scenes made up perhaps a quarter of the book but I found them to be the most interesting.
The ladies are woefully under represented in this book. In fact, I do believe there are only two that get names, and one is a dead wife. The other, Felicia, is the love interest of Pavo. There’s a variety of other nameless bedwarmers, but sadly they don’t really add to the plot. I will say that the one sex scene was sweet and hot; nicely done!
Pavo is our hero of the story and he is at the crux of big things happening for the empire. And yet, I never really got that sense of big sweeping events hanging on a sword’s edge that I was hooping for. I am having a hard time putting my finger directly on it. The action scenes often came off as a bit flat to me, lacking drama or suspense. Maybe this is because I wasn’t particularly attached to Pavo.
I dived into this book truly expecting to love it. Ancient Roman historical fiction is one of my favorite niche genres. Plus the time of Emperor Valens and the rise of Christianity isn’t a section I have really studied, so I was looking forward to learning a bit as I enjoyed this fiction. I was surprised and saddened this book was only so-so for me.
I received this audiobook from the author (via the Audiobook Blast Facebook page) at no cost in exchange for an honest review.
The Narration: Simon Whistler did a pretty good job. He had a variety of accents as called for and had passable female voices for the few times a woman uttered a line. He does have the English accent (and since this is an English production that is quite proper) and for some words my American brain had to puzzle out what he said (such as the word ‘grimace’). Also, for the longest time I thought the main character’s name was Parvo instead of Pavo because I hear a soft R in the name when Whistler says it. Parvo is a nasty terminal dog disease here in the States, so that kept putting an image in my head every time I heard it.
"Too many inconsistencies interrupt the flow."
The storyline was interesting but the author and editor were sloppy. Too many times things happen that did not square with the scene just before. Whole armies appear in relief within a few days when it would have take weeks to even notify them of the situation. The sloppiness capture more of my attention than the story itself.
The narrator in parts of the book had the habit of speaking the first half of a sentence at a higher decibel than the second half of the sentence. This grates on the ears as you shrink away from the volume then strain to hear the rest. Keep it at one steady volume and use tone and emphasis to add intensity to the telling.
"Slow start, but gripping by the end"
For story, somewhere in the middle. For production, kind of low. It is possible to hear some of the edits and "punch ins" and certain words are pronounced differently at different times.
The drama built well, the author handled suspense well. Good pacing after a somewhat clunky beginning.
Simon's voice and dramatic reading ability are both quite nice. Again I found the production quality somewhat lacking and that distracted me from the story at times.
Blood, Guts, and dust
Some back story is delivered too quickly at the beginning. The protagonist goes from young child to young adult quickly, and later allusions to his past that weren't really brought up earlier. But I found that the story became much more coherent and enjoyable as it went on.
I think the author handled two juxtaposed narratives well: the main protagonist is a grunt soldier caught up in the intrique of generals and emperors. The stories of both "higher" and "lower" rank characters are well told and well mixed.
"Excellent Performance; One Facial Expression"
Adventure, Blood, Grimacing
I enjoyed the adventurous nature of the story, and how it painted the times in a way that made it come alive. I didn't care how everybody only had one facial expression.
Simon did a great job reading this story; his polished voice brought forth the excitement in the action.
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