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From Publishers Weekly
Being a whistleblower is risky business, especially in ancient Rome. Lucius Aurelius Valens, a foot soldier in the Sixth Legion, witnesses a brutal act of carnage and soon becomes convinced that his superior officer is not only looking the other way, but is complicit in the massacre. A man who prizes his honor above all else, Lucius takes matters into his own hands and leads a small band of troops against the marauders, in the process making bitter enemies of virtually every powerful officer in the Roman army. A just and compassionate high-ranking official transfers Lucius to a patrol in Galilee as a means to escape his situation, but Galilee provides problems of its own. There Lucius collides not only with a complex political situation that threatens to bring King Herod's fury down on an entire city, but also with one of the most pivotal people in human history (yes, that Galilean). Larkin's story is ambitious and well plotted, but it moves at a snail's pace and is nearly twice as long as it ought to be. Though the "surprise ending" is no surprise at all, it still manages to wrap up a story that, unfortunately, fails to live up to its fascinating premise. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
File Size: 988 KB
Print Length: 478 pages
Publisher: Patrick Larkin; 1 edition (February 12, 2013)
I thoroughly enjoyed The Tribune's tale of intrigue, corruption, and betrayal set against the historical backdrop of Rome. The political situation and general administration of the legion were historically accurate, though the particulars were clearly fictitious. This story *could* have taken place... even if I'm positive that it did not. And I laughed aloud at the twist at the tale's end.
The story moved right along, filled with action and complications for the tribune to overcome. His successes were hard-won and realistically portrayed rather than the more common trope that he should win because he's the protagonist. I would've appreciated greater detail of the clothing and weaponry used, but recognize that it might have slowed down the story's pace.
I found some of the almost biblical names for some characters to be off-putting at first, though it did narrow the historical time period and provoke much speculation on my part as to the writer's purpose, up until the final surprise twist. The story would have worked without them and putting those names in and did not make this tale a piece of religious propaganda.
Whenever a book is set around the time of Christ, and features a Roman officer serving somewhere in the Middle East, one thinks one knows what is coming. So when I first started reading Tribune, I had an idea the book would end predictably and I was prepared to be disappointed in advance. And then I got a very real surprise. The book didn't go in the direction I was expecting. Instead, using exceptionally vivid prose, the book began to tell a completely different story: Roman politics and intrigue; a murder mystery in Judea, bribery and corruption in high places.. the book started to resemble a conspiracy thriller from two thousand years ago. And it just got better from there. The ending was deeply satisfying, and there is a twist in the tail that is truly unexpected. The pace is brisk, the writing is evocative and skilled, the characters beautifully rendered, and the story inventive and refreshing. A book I can highly recommend.
I got this eBook on one of those freebie or really cheap specials. I find that many of those books are not very good. This one was VERY GOOD indeed. The story of a young, pretty highly placed, officer in the Roman legions, he finds himself fighting enemies of Rome, as well as high-up Roman officials and officers. It's sort of like Mad Men in the ancient world with all the scheming and power plays. The young officer finds himself drawn to protect an impoverished Jewish town called Nazara, targeted for destruction by his superiors. Lots of action, lots of battles, and a deeper message. The ending is a huge surprise. I heartily recommend this book and look forward to the sequel. An aside: I've ridden most of my life and live on a horse ranch. This book has lots of horse-related scenes. I HATE it when authors talk about horses and know nothing about them. Makes me suspect the authenticity of the whole book. Patrick Larkin does a wonderful job describing how horses behave and how the cavalry and his hero treats them. Bulls eye, Mr. Larkin.
The TRIBUNE is easy to enjoy historical fiction, not to heavy on the history and pleasantly smooth on the fiction.it is the beginning of a sword and sandal series set in Biblical Judea. Most of the important historical figures of the time are to be found in the story. Apparently, further installments will cover all the events of the Gospels, rather like Ben Hur, but told from Messala's viewpoint rather than Judah Ben-Hur. This is not a religious / fiction/ historical novel, per se, but I think that it will play a strong part in future books. I won't outline the plot, you can read synopses elsewhere. The story is presented in a workmanlike manor so that the book is easy to read, maintaining the reader's interest, although surprises are not too surprising, and maybe a bit of a stretch. The military combat scenes are exciting, but brief, so as not to horrify anyone. There is some love interest, but nothing even faintly erotic. Summary: a workmanlike novel that gives the reader a taste of what it might have been like to be a young officered Judea just as earth-shaking events were about to occur.
I recommend this book. The content has been described by several excellent reviewers, so I am not going there. The author's mechanics of good writing are excellent. You, the reader, will meet Biblical characters that includes Jesus. The book is Christian based without being 'preachy.' If you, the reader, read the book in the same manner you read other historical fiction books, the characters will be friends you have met in other books. I like the way the author strings his words together. There is no slow time where the reader gets bored, and that is amazing given the length of the book.
I stopped reading this book for a while after the first few chapters. I was put off by good characters who are purely good and evil characters who are purely evil. When a good character, Tribune Valens, exposes the men, Roman legionaries, who are guilty of murder, rape and looting and then is called to task for it while the evil doers are released, well that is not to my liking. I did return to the book later and finished it.
It is okay and one can get somewhat of an idea of Roman legion cavalry life and politics but much of the book revolves around the mystery of who killed a Roman senator in Judea and why. I prefer books about the Roman legions that deal with large scale battles and tactics and the politics behind them.