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on May 17, 2015
I am continuing with the series, for the one fault, that our protagonist is a super-hero, with comic book like powers continues to be predominant, the background history and the plot adds colour to a part of history I have not investigated fully and give the nod to Riches for it appears that he has done so. At least enough to craft a good man's adventure story against that backdrop.

Once again the cohort is called on to do duty, and they march forth gathering to them additional misfits that swell our hero's retinue. He soon will have more friends to guard his back then the emperor and the Pretorian Prefect who wishes him dead. Once again that subplot appears, and I fear it will appear continuously. Even when in makes little sense at all. Here, the enemies are so far removed, and already hunting this one man has been so costly, one would think that it has run its course. That the logic of it diminishes adds to the strikes against the story. Drama=Conflict, but there is already more than enough conflict fighting the war and the internal politics of the cohort that one does not need this external plot to drive the story. Riches is too attached to this mystery which it appears he wants to make his hero with an added depth to his character. Plenty of time to explore that when the character returns to Rome. However the Hungarian Auxiliary Cohort is becoming a little too invincible as well. Beginning to eclipse the legionnaires that they SUPPORT.

Other tales of Roman Soldiers show, and my knowledge of the period adds, that an auxiliary cohort is not trained to the same level of a legion, where the soldiers have been in training since they were children. There should be plenty of trouble for a unit of auxiliaries to get into, but now we seem to be creating illogical and unhistorical situations for our hero to go win and drags along a unit that would not be given the task over that of a cohort of legionnaires.

All that aside, and suspending my disbelief in this, I can find the tale interesting, though better survived if the three main problems, the Heroes Comic Book like superiority, his evil enemies in Rome who want him dead, and his leadership in a group of auxiliaries instead of legionnaires, had been dealt with.
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on February 7, 2017
Great book from a VG series.

I'd say a solid 5-star rating.

I would like to provide further textual content on that Rating as part of this Review, however am unable to do so.

The ACDLT has restricted my ability to Comment or Reply (and doing so without any prior warning, any specific notification, any identification of specific alleged problems or appeal).

That being so, an inability to respond to Review comments by others (positive, negative, indifferent) would be unfair to myself and others. I would therefore request no Comments (or, if so, recognize that I do not have an ability to respond to same).

But it is a solid 5-star book in this genre.
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on June 5, 2014
Apologies for a late review; I don't know how this one slipped between the cracks, but it did and my recollections are a bit blurred by the passage of time. Forewarned and all that.

Mr. Riches is rightly praised for his story-telling and historical research and it seems well deserved to me. Each of the three books has much to recommend it. I should warn, however, that this is a series that is best read in order.

The main character is Marcus Aquila, aka "Corvus" and "Two Blades", who attracts devoted followers and unwanted fame for his martial skills. In fact, the number of continuing minor characters is already one or two more than I would wish. The three books thus far take place in northern Britain, near the Wall, and involve Rome's efforts to put down various tribal uprisings. This is by its very nature complicated, just as Caesar's campaigns Gaul were complicated due to the different tribes, and it requires the reader to pay attention.

This time Marcus and the auxiliary Tungrians are up against a leader named Drust, who is accompanied by Calgus. They are not allies, and their relationship was fascinating. There is more brutal, bloody combat, and Mr. Riches continues to do these scenes superbly. In fact, the realistic "feel" for the life of a soldier in the legions -- well, the auxiliaries -- is a sufficient reason to read all these books.

Marcus is still pursued by the "corn officer" and a Praetorian from Rome. The functions of the frumentarii are perhaps the least described in all the literature about the period, and I had no idea whether this was realistic or not. I have not thought this plot line added much to the series, but Mr. Riches appears to be committed to keeping Marcus tied to the politics that forced him to flee Rome in the first place, so we can expect to see more of his problems with the agents who pursue him.

For my money, Mr. Riches' is the best Roman series on the market.
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on August 31, 2015
Read the first book in the series--found it interesting enough that I ordered Arrows of Fury (Book 2) and Fortress of Spears (Book 3)--so I could read them back to back--which I did.
The two books were essentially identical--the bad Romans are all so bad (in both books) each attempts to kidnap/rape the good doctor but only after spilling their guts about previous, heinous crimes they have committed. None succeed in that or getting the good guy. Two Knives is so good--he can and does win every battle, makes all the perfect decisions etc etc. Also, very simplistically written--all natives are barbarians--single word description, particularly in battle
Changing a couple names and locations but keeping the plot exactly the same is not a good way to write a series.
Won't follow up by reading any more
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VINE VOICEon November 17, 2011
This book appears to be the last one in the line of three books in the Empire series by Anthony Riches. And, in my opinion, it is by far the best of the three books. The author ends the series with an excellently written story line with twists in plot that kept me on the edge of my seat. It will be interesting if he continues with these characters, because the character development is a lot better in this book, making me interested in what happens to Marcus, Felicia, Dubnus, and the rest.

This book starts off a little slow, and to some level confusing (unless you read the other two books right before this), but stay with it. The story picks about one third of the way through and then continues. At the end, I couldn't put it down because the story line drew me in with interest in what was going to happen next.

Like the other books, this one has plenty of action with battle scenes that are exciting, but to some level confusing. Further, as one of my criticisms of the book, the graphic dwelling on blood and gore and torture can be concerning at times.

One other area of confusion, was the spy from Rome - he was called a "corn officer". Just what is that, the author never really spends the time describing that, and as some of us know, the food, corn, was really not developed until later in the new world, purportedly initially by the Aztecs (I believe, but am not 100% sure).

In spite of these two small criticisms, I still highly recommend this book and give it the highest rating possibly especially for any reader interested in Roman history and Britain. I highly recommend that you read the two starter books in the Empire series by this author first.
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on August 23, 2013
These used books, costing next to nothing, are the PERFECT gift for any incarcerated person you might know .... They will be devoured by an ever-so-grateful recipient, as each one carries them outside the walls and into a world of imagination and fun. Next time you're in touch with that person, ask him/her what kinds of books they'd enjoy reading, then spend a coupla bucks - it will make a world of difference for them, and you'll feel good too. Don't let these books just sit on a shelf somewhere, when they can do so much good.
Note that most jails and prisons will not accept books directly from you, only straight from legitimate booksellers, so please consider doing something like this - whenever you can afford to spend around 5 bucks total! Also note that 'Hardcover' books are prohibited in many systems, but 'Paperbacks' are universally OK.
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on September 9, 2012
I have always thought that there was a lot to like about the Roman society - depending of course where you found yourself in it.

This book meets my needs for a diverting, entertaining read that isn't going to challenge me too much intellectually. The heros in the story are now well established given that this is the 3rd book of the series. Based on my enjoyment with reading the 1st 2 books I didn't hesitate to buy this 3rd and wasn't disappointed by another dose of the Roman war machine smacking it to the wild Barbarian tribes. I have to admit though that I have hesitated before rushing off to buy the 4th in the series though as the characters are now at the stage where they can almost do no wrong.

However, if like me, you enjoyed the 1st 2 books then this 3rd will not disappoint. Ave!!
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on July 9, 2016
The third title in the Empire series was a another solid entry for sure. My only gripe is that it seems there is a little less focus and attention on Marcus than there was in the first two books of the series. Still a very enjoyable read and I'm looking forward to reading the other books in the series.
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on December 27, 2016
Someone interested in historical fiction of the Roman era, this is good reading, good characters, good settings, good dialogue, good action, without going "over the top" in any category. All in all, a "good read." I am enjoying the series.
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on October 14, 2012
Fortress is the second book in the empire series. It is every bit as good as the first and is a great continuation of the story. Even though Riches is very good at transitioning from one book to the next, he doesn't leave the reader feeling like the book stops midway so you have to buy the next to find out the finish. He does not have to leave you with a bunch of cliffhangers because his writing will make you want to buy the next one. I know a cannot wait to read the third book. The book is well written and action packed. It is also very graphic, which is not a problem for me, but a warning if you are not a blood and guts fan. I wholeheartedly recommend this and the series.
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