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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cato and Macro are back and in the Praetorian Guard
Cato and Macro are back! It is A.D. 51 and, fresh from their last adventure in Egypt, we open with the treacherous murder of Balbus on the Appian Way and the stealing of two million sesterces that was bound for the pay chests of the imperial legions. It is the motive behind the theft that has Narcissus, the freedman of Claudius and one of the most powerful men in Rome,...
Published on November 23, 2011 by travelswithadiplomat

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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Sadly dissapointing
Being a Scarrow fan I looked forward to this latest adventure of Macro and Cato, but I would have to say I was sadly let down. More a whodunnit than the usual blood and guts fable of the Roman Legions, I found it contrived, booring and a little too puerile. As Macro says "lets get back to the real army"!
Published on November 28, 2011 by the fang


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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cato and Macro are back and in the Praetorian Guard, November 23, 2011
This review is from: Praetorian (Hardcover)
Cato and Macro are back! It is A.D. 51 and, fresh from their last adventure in Egypt, we open with the treacherous murder of Balbus on the Appian Way and the stealing of two million sesterces that was bound for the pay chests of the imperial legions. It is the motive behind the theft that has Narcissus, the freedman of Claudius and one of the most powerful men in Rome, coerce Macro and Cato, as they kick their heels in Ostia, into infiltrating the Praetorian Guard. A unit known more for parade gloss and carousing than serious military action is about to get the wisdom and action of our dour, hard-headed centurion and newly promoted (though unconfirmed) intelligent prefect. With alibis as Capido and Calidus they find themselves in the Guard under the command of Optio Tigellinus, Centurion Lurco, and Tribune Burrus. Narcissus communicates with them through his agent Septimus instructing them to begin a mission to find the bullion, work out if the shadowy Liberators are plotting to murder Emperor Claudius, and understand where the disappearing grain supply is going. Tasks better suited to Cato's questing mind than Macro's blunt force.
Whilst undertaking the mission the pair is forced to deal with the imperial politicking of Narcissus and Pallas; tiptoe around the naked aims of the Empress Agrippina to advance her son Nero against those of Claudius' true son, Britannicus. The action commences soon enough with Macro and Cato coming up against a gang headed by the giant Cestius. The first skirmish in the streets of a rioting Rome has our heroes save the imperial family and work their way into Sinius' confidences as co-conspirators against Claudius. Having established their position all that remains is to work out who is really controlling the strings of the plot and where the grain supply is going. Having got the inept Lurco out of the way with a kidnap that also has the satisfaction of the annoying Vitellius from previous novels knocked cold and bound up, Cato and Macro find themselves being swept away by a burst dam, fighting gladiators at the Naumachia and then working out where the missing grain is being hidden just in time as Rome threatens to descend into a greater riot. A sodden trip into the Cloaca Maxima and a confrontation with Cestius leads to Cato and Macro racing back to the palace to thwart a final attempt on Claudius life and a denouement that reveals much, concludes little, of the politics of Rome and grants our protagonists a trip back to Britannia for their next outing.
I have liked Scarrow's novels ever since a fresh faced Cato appeared on the pages of the Augusta II with a crusty, plain-speaking centurion named Macro. The author's language is direct, he is clearly at his best when writing action scenes - though there is a five page philosophical almost-soliloquy by Cato around page 250 of the hardback version when he considers is legacy and the futility of the present... "The leaden sense of despair that it engendered weighed down upon Cato as he thought that this is how it was, is and would be for as long as those few with power were more concerned with accruing it for themselves rather than using it to better the lot of those they ruled." - and he keeps the `fill' to a minimum as Cato becomes the sleuth puzzling out who did what, when and where. Scarrow chooses to deliver his prose in modern format so we get words like "rake", "gangster" and "rabble" freely used amongst Macro's endearing soldier slang. There was only one typo that made it to the version this reviewer has read; somewhat amusingly Macro comments on the delights of "proper soldering" rather than "soldiering" on page 251.
Blacksmithing aside, Scarrow hits the spot unerringly. Eleven novels in the Roman series give the proof of the brilliance of what the author has achieved. As a reader, Cato and Macro have as much as place in the pantheon of Roman characters as Falco and Gordianus. Scarrow is as good as Davis and Saylor. Different in style, equal in success. The adventures of Cato and Macro are enjoyable and this latest instalment is as good as the rest. I hope the author continues with this pair for as long as he can.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Sadly dissapointing, November 28, 2011
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Being a Scarrow fan I looked forward to this latest adventure of Macro and Cato, but I would have to say I was sadly let down. More a whodunnit than the usual blood and guts fable of the Roman Legions, I found it contrived, booring and a little too puerile. As Macro says "lets get back to the real army"!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cato and Macro ride again, May 12, 2012
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This review is from: Praetorian (Hardcover)
OK, so gthey don't really ride. This story puts them in the center of palace intrigue shortly before the rise of Nero. Very good weaving of actual history into an action story. Well worth the money.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not Scarrow's Best, March 20, 2013
By 
Stephen F. Malin (CORNVILLE, AZ, US) - See all my reviews
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I jave read all of the books in this series and thoroughly enjoyed the adventures of Cato and Macro. This story was slow never really taking off, totally lacking in energy and almost boring. I do not recommend it.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Great story despite itself, July 7, 2014
Proof that Simon Scarrow is a fabulous story-teller is the fact he kept me turning pages despite a writing style that is just painfully bad.
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5.0 out of 5 stars While it takes a little longer their product showed up ..., July 6, 2014
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While it takes a little longer their product showed up in about 10 days from England. Price was right and book was protected by a plastic cover.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Another good Scarrow's story, June 28, 2014
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The Scarrow's books are fantastic. Instead of well writing, the historical findings are correlated with the fiction story. In this book (in my humble opinion), the storyline could had been more dense, with a heavier agument. Anyway is a marvelous book, following the path of Cato and Macro series. Thank you, Mr Scarrow.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Another good one, June 28, 2014
As a reader of all the Scarrow books in this series, and one who always looks forward to the next one being published, I thought this was his second hit in a row. The previous one was excellent and so was this. Scarrow seems to have picked it up a notch or two in his recent books. I personally thought he had hit a little drought until Cato and Macro landed on Crete but since then the books have been as enjoyable as the early ones.

It is always nice to get the occassional view of Rome. Going inside the Praetorian Guard was a nice touch. Narcissus always makes for good reading also. Looking forward to the next one set in Britannia.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Good as usual, June 27, 2014
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Like the other Cato and Macro books, this one is fast paced and hard to put down. Keep them coming!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great story with convincing historical background., May 22, 2014
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Rome under Claudius makes a fascinating change of setting from the two previous Macro and Cato books. Plenty of action , intrigue and well-researched period detail combine to produce an exciting , intricate plot.
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Praetorian
Praetorian by Simon Scarrow (Hardcover - June 25, 2011)
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