The arresting sixth novel in Simon Scarrow's epic series of the Roman army
It is spring A.D. 45 in Rome, and Centurions Macro and Cato, dismissed from the Second Legion in Britain, are waiting for an investigation into their involvement in the death of a fellow officer. It is then that the imperial secretary, the devious Narcissus, makes them an offer they can't refuse: to rescue an imperial agent who has been captured by pirates operating off the Illyrian coast. With him were scrolls vital to the safety of the emperor and the future of Rome.
But Narcissus also sends Vitellius, an old enemy of the two centurions. The three officers set out from Ravenna with the imperial fleet but the pirates are forewarned and the Romans pay a heavy price. Outnumbered by the enemy, surrounded by rumors of treachery, and endangered by Vitellius's desire to redeem himself, Centurions Macro and Cato must find the pirate base to avert a disaster that could destroy the emperor and the very core of Rome.
"[A] rip-roaring, thoroughly entertaining tale of swashbuckling adventure from one of the most exciting writers of historical fiction."---Scottish Daily Record
The sixth installment (following 2005's The Eagle's Prey) of Scarrow's popular Roman Empire series is a combustible concoction of intrigue, treachery and violence. Having returned to Rome from Britain to await an investigation into their involvement in the death of an officer, centurions Macro and Cato, Scarrow's recurring heroes, are offered the opportunity to redeem themselves: they must recover the Delphic scrolls reputed to foretell Rome's future from the pirates who stole them. Macro and Cato are assigned to the Roman fleet under the command of a former nemesis, the venal Vitellius, who secretly covets the scrolls for himself. Vitellius's plan to destroy the pirate fleet and seize the scrolls, however, runs aground when the pirates, aided by a Roman traitor and Vitellius's ineptness in battle, inflict severe losses on the Roman fleet. When Vitellius is replaced, Macro and Cato get another chance to salvage their careers (and lives). Series fans will welcome Scarrow's depiction of the overlooked venue of the Roman navy, and though the plotting is formulaic, the intense action, beguiling characters and authentic detail more than compensate for it.