Written by M.C. Scott

Review written by Ayo Onatade

Ayo Onatade is an avid reader of crime and mystery fiction. She has been writing reviews, interviews and articles on the subject for the last 12 years; with an eclectic taste from historical to hardboiled, short stories and noir films

Bantam Press
RRP: £12.99
Released: 28th March 2013

The era is AD69 and the period of the three emperors, but one of the three, Vitellius sits nervously on his throne. Detested by the people of Rome, it is only his army and the mercilessness of his brother, Lucius that enables him to keep it.

Elsewhere in the East, General Vespasian is opposing all attempts by his army and advisers to proclaim him emperor but when an assassination attempt is barely thwarted, Vespasian recognises the fact that he must send his army west and face Vitellius himself. With his family in Rome, Vespasian knows they will all be in peril as soon as he states his intention. To this end, Vespasian sends the spy Pantera to Rome with two undertakings. Firstly to safeguard his family and secondly to do all he can to obtain the throne for him. As Pantera enters the shadowy world of Roman politics he is eager to circumvent Lucius’s men as they use pain and terror to get to him. With the help of an incongruous group that he cannot trust, Pantera endeavours to assist Vespasian in his quest. But can he succeed?

If you read Eagle of The Twelfth or, in fact, any of the earlier books in the Rome series, then you will appreciate how good a writer M C Scott it. Her research is impeccable and her sense of place is faultless. With respect to her characterisation it is as always, seamless bearing in mind the fact that there are a number of significant characters that are central to the storyline. The entire story takes place over a remarkably brief interval and is told in the form of affidavits or sworn declarations of most of the characters and each chapter is told as personal eyewitness accounts by those caught up in what is going on. 

Of all the books in this series Rome: The Art of War is the book most rooted in espionage and can be easily characterised as an historical thriller. In my opinion it is also the best of all four. If you are looking for a well-written, fascinating, and thrilling historical novel that is as seductive as it is cruel that will draw you into the depths of Rome and full of action and intrigue then look no further. Rome: The Art of War hits the spot.

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