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Scourge of Rome: Gaius Valerius Verrens 6

av Douglas Jackson

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2211,024,225 (4.33)Ingen/inga
"70AD. Disgraced, dishonoured and banished into exile on pain of execution if he ever returns to Rome, the former military tribune Gaius Valerius Verrens makes his way East through the death and destruction of the savage Judaean rebellion. Valerius knows his only hope of long term survival and a restoration of his family s fortunes lie with his friend Titus, commander of the Army of Judaea and son of the newly crowned Emperor Vespasian. But when he reaches the ring of legionary camps around the seemingly impregnable city of Jerusalem he finds Titus a changed man. Gone is the cheerful young officer he knew, replaced by a tough, ruthless soldier under pressure from his father to end the insurrection at any cost. Soon, Valerius finds himself at the centre of a web of intrigue spun by Titus s lover, Queen Berenice of Cilicia, and her sometime ally, the general s turncoat adviser, Flavius Josephus, who have an ulterior motive for ending the siege quickly. Yet the laurels that will regain his honour cannot be won in the negotiations in the murky tunnels beneath Jerusalem. Only amid the fire and blood of battle will he equal the glory that brought him the title Hero of Rome."… (mer)
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This series just gets better and better with each novel! This one, with two main storylines, finds Valerius exiled from Rome. In order to regain his honor and fortune and to redeem himself, he travels to Syria and points east [Part I] and joins his friend Titus, son of Vespasian, the recently-acclaimed emperor, in Jerusalem, to lend his strong arm and brains to Titus to help subdue that city [Part II]. Serpentius, the ex-gladiator bodyguard and friend, although now suffering seizures after a terrible blow to the head, still fights as well as ever and accompanies Valerius. The Judaeans refuse to surrender and a violent siege ensues. Titus is resolute in pursuing his goals--to capture the city, to reduce it to rubble and to bring the treasures of the Temple to his father.

On the rebound from losing Lady Domitia, Valerius easily falls for Tabitha, lady-in-waiting to Queen Berenice of Cilicia, Titus's paramour. An important character in the story, Tabitha is an agent of the queen, has misrepresented herself until Jerusalem, then to me [and to Serpentius] she seems like a devious, manipulative, sly, femme fatale. I hope if she becomes a running character, both Serpentius and I will be proven wrong. Once in Jerusalem, we meet Josephus, the turncoat Jewish general, now Titus's advisor and interpreter. I don't think Mr. Jackson was exaggerating the man's venal, opportunistic personality; Josephus was one character I "loved to hate." In the midst of the violent siege, both Tabitha, for her queen, and Josephus, probably for himself, try to carry out the same secretive agenda. Two warring fanatical factions of Jews against the Romans and against each other ambush and skirmish Valerius or the legions; this complicates capture of the city.

The characterization was more and more subtle and nuanced. Well written and polished, pacing was very good. I liked how the author took elements I've read in books by others, but combined them in new, fresh ways. In Dimitrios, the armorer, I could see shades of James Bond's Q. Of course, the city of Emesa wouldn't be the same without its Elah Gabel. I was surprised to find Valerius reading Aineas of Stymphalia on sieges, to get some tips. A few months ago, I read a book review of his extant work then soon after read and really enjoyed the novel [The End of Sparta] in which Aineas is a major character. I didn't like that physical intimacy between Valerius and Tabitha took place about 25% into the novel and that **she** initiated it. [I'm probably old-fashioned.] I do like the fact that whenever it did take place, the author "shut the bedroom door" as it were, gave no details and left them up to one's imagination. The trek east I liked best, especially the soldiers making their way through the swamp.

I think the editor missed this: on page 92: When Valerius is modeling the magnificent armor Dimitrios has made for him, Tabitha says, "You could be Titus or his OLDER [my capitalization], much more dangerous brother." I believe Domitian was at least a decade YOUNGER.

All in all, I recommend this novel most highly! One can read it as a standalone. The author has placed the narration of past events so cleverly in the text that I believe it would tease someone into reading the previous volumes if they had never read them before. ( )
  janerawoof | Sep 16, 2015 |
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"70AD. Disgraced, dishonoured and banished into exile on pain of execution if he ever returns to Rome, the former military tribune Gaius Valerius Verrens makes his way East through the death and destruction of the savage Judaean rebellion. Valerius knows his only hope of long term survival and a restoration of his family s fortunes lie with his friend Titus, commander of the Army of Judaea and son of the newly crowned Emperor Vespasian. But when he reaches the ring of legionary camps around the seemingly impregnable city of Jerusalem he finds Titus a changed man. Gone is the cheerful young officer he knew, replaced by a tough, ruthless soldier under pressure from his father to end the insurrection at any cost. Soon, Valerius finds himself at the centre of a web of intrigue spun by Titus s lover, Queen Berenice of Cilicia, and her sometime ally, the general s turncoat adviser, Flavius Josephus, who have an ulterior motive for ending the siege quickly. Yet the laurels that will regain his honour cannot be won in the negotiations in the murky tunnels beneath Jerusalem. Only amid the fire and blood of battle will he equal the glory that brought him the title Hero of Rome."

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