Rome’s Executioner by Robert Fabbri

Vertigo

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The second book in the Vespasian series. Vespasian is joined by his brother on a mission to capture a barbarian priest who could provide evidence of the treachery of Sejanus, commander of the Praetorian guard, to the now quite mad Emperor Tiberius.

I do have a little difficulty with these books, they are clearly well researched but sometimes it feels like that research takes centre stage shadowing the actual story being told, though, in fairness, this was less the case than in the first book. But my biggest difficulty is with the brutality. Okay, of course life was brutal in that period and maybe the casual cold-blooded killing that frequents these stories is realistic and the loping off of heads and arms in sword fights was common, but I don’t really enjoy revelling in such actions which these books very definitely do, with people constantly getting sprayed with vast quantities of blood. I simply don’t enjoy reading descriptions of this kind. For my tastes Cornwell, in the Saxon sagas, get the balance right but Fabbri swings too far towards glorifying the gore.

With all that said the story is good, especially being so well grounded in the historical facts as it is, and Fabbri does give good afterwords in which he clearly flags where his story is well founded on the known history, where there is some debate over the history and where it is pure speculation or even where he has occasionally used a little artistic licence to, for example, compress the timing of some events. His characters are well drawn, and the pacing is good making it an easy read.

I haven’t read all that many books set in Roman times but on balance I would have to say these are not my favourites. However, I will continue with the series, though, if I’m honest, that may partly be due to the fact that I’ve picked up all the volumes at heavily reduced prices over the last few months!



Rounded up to 4/5 stars
 

Brian G Turner

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I enjoyed the series - certainly better than some more famous ones which seem to lack any sense of Roman authenticity. I agree on the brutality, though I noticed it less as the series went on. Colleen McCullough's Masters of Rome series is still the best Roman historical fiction, though. :)
 

Vertigo

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I enjoyed the series - certainly better than some more famous ones which seem to lack any sense of Roman authenticity. I agree on the brutality, though I noticed it less as the series went on. Colleen McCullough's Masters of Rome series is still the best Roman historical fiction, though. :)
That's probably the next one I'll move onto after these! I've heard lots of good stuff about it.

I think Authenticity is also why I like the SJA Turney Praetorian books. I get the sense he's done a lot of research; he seems to have visited all the places that appear in the books with a photo diary of his travels to them
 

Vertigo

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I've got one of his but not read it yet. The McCullough I found slow to start, but once it gets going her characterizations can be unforgettable. :)
The very first Praetorian book - The Great Game - starts out a little shaky but once he gets in his stride and the main character starts getting established it all settles down into a solid book and series. Also pretty well edited for self published.
 
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