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Hammer of Rome: Gaius Valerius Verrens 9

av Douglas Jackson

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AD 80 Gaius Valerius Verrens is back where he belongs, at the head of a legion. But this is no ordinary legion. His command is the 'unlucky' Ninth, tainted by four decades of ill fortune and poor leadership. A unit regarded as expendable by Valerius's superior, Gnaeus Julius Agricola, governor of Britannia. Yet all that can be swept aside by a single moment of glory, and the long heralded invasion of the north of the province provides the perfect opportunity. Valerius leads his men to a devastating victory against the recalcitrant Brigantes, infuriating Agricola in the process. Soon, even greater honours beckon with the death of Emperor Vespasian and the succession of Valerius's friend, Titus. But, back in Rome, the new emperor faces his own challenges, not least from his own brother, Domitian, a man with an insatiable ambition for power and a deadly hatred of Valerius. All Valerius can do is forget the great prizes on offer, concentrate on defeating the savage tribes who lie in the path of the Ninth, and ignore Agricola's intrigues. But watching his every move is the most formidable enemy he has ever faced- mighty Calgacus, war chief of the Northern alliance.… (mer)
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This has been a favorite Roman series, with the same excitement and drama as the previous incidents. I always look forward to adventures featuring Valerius. In this one, he has been promoted to legate of the XI Legion in Roman Britain and is instrumental in Governor Agricola's drive north to conquer all of Britannia. We follow, in alternating sections, the Romans and the Celtic chieftain Calgacus [Cathal] and his efforts to draw warriors around him to protect their land from the "Red Scourge", with pitched battles, culminating in a final face-off at Mons Graupius. As a last-ditch effort to afford any more blood being spilt on both sides, Valerius attempts diplomacy. The author puts into Calgacus' mouth his version of the words Tacitus has given him. With these words, Valerius is so moved that he feels he has not always treated the Celts as human beings and now sees them as trying to maintain their independence. This is a last bit of his maturing. Agricola, in Jackson's concept, is not so much a villain, but glory-hungry, and ambitious, more of an obstacle to Valerius.

I regret that this is Valerius' last adventure, but I've enjoyed the journey through the twists and turns of more than 30 years of his life. But I would imagine Mr. Jackson feels he has said all he wanted of this protagonist. I appreciated the Afterword. Rereading the author's excellent prose and stories always remains.

Highly recommended. ( )
  janerawoof | Oct 28, 2018 |
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AD 80 Gaius Valerius Verrens is back where he belongs, at the head of a legion. But this is no ordinary legion. His command is the 'unlucky' Ninth, tainted by four decades of ill fortune and poor leadership. A unit regarded as expendable by Valerius's superior, Gnaeus Julius Agricola, governor of Britannia. Yet all that can be swept aside by a single moment of glory, and the long heralded invasion of the north of the province provides the perfect opportunity. Valerius leads his men to a devastating victory against the recalcitrant Brigantes, infuriating Agricola in the process. Soon, even greater honours beckon with the death of Emperor Vespasian and the succession of Valerius's friend, Titus. But, back in Rome, the new emperor faces his own challenges, not least from his own brother, Domitian, a man with an insatiable ambition for power and a deadly hatred of Valerius. All Valerius can do is forget the great prizes on offer, concentrate on defeating the savage tribes who lie in the path of the Ninth, and ignore Agricola's intrigues. But watching his every move is the most formidable enemy he has ever faced- mighty Calgacus, war chief of the Northern alliance.

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