Blades of Antioch by S J A Turner

Vertigo

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Blades of Antioch is the sixth in Turney’s well researched Praetorian series this time focusing on the conflict between the two claimants to the Roman Emperor’s throne Severus and Niger. Rufinus is dispatched to Arabia to clear up some frumentarii loose ends and, naturally, ends up doing rather more.

Once again, these books stand out for me as some of the best self-published books I’ve yet read. The writing and character development is sound, the historical situations, atmosphere and politics realistic without (mostly) being too grim. And Rufinus himself has now developed into something rather more believable than the slightly uncomfortable marriage of clumsy and smart that rather characterised him in the earlier books. Turney also provides detailed notes at the end indicating where he is on solid historical grounds and where it is rather more speculative and also freely admits to a couple of spots where he allowed himself a little artistic licence with the actual history. This is something I appreciate greatly when I am reading historical books, I like to know how much of what I’ve read was solid history and how much fictional.

Once the story has got going it never really lets up and the pages fly past with no great effort on the part of the reader. It is, for the most part well written and edited, though there are the inevitable missed typos that always seem to plague self-published writers but far less than in many other self-published, and even nowadays some traditionally published, books I’ve read which was a blessing as I seem to suffer more distraction from such issues than many other readers. So, the production is good, the story very good and the historical detail also very good (as far as my limited knowledge extends). I think there is one more book in this series which I will move onto before long and then I must consider whether to take a look at one of his other historical series.



4/5 stars
 

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