Series: Agent of Rome 5
My version: Paperback
Historical Fiction Rome
Hodder and Stoughton
Having survived his previous assignment in Arabia, Imperial agent Cassius Corbulo has been spending most of his time and money on women and wine. Unfortunately for him, word of his achievements has reached the Emperor Aurelian’s deputy and Corbulo is sent north, tasked with smashing a counterfeiting gang.
After tracking the criminals to the city of Berytus, Cassius’ investigations are hampered by civil unrest and uncooperative officials, not to mention the personal problems of his servant Simo and bodyguard Indavara. Despite this – and intense pressure from his superiors – the young officer eventually closes in on the gang.
But his enemies will do anything to protect their profits, and Cassius and Indavara soon find themselves fighting not only for the emperor, but for their very survival.
Perhaps not the best one in the series so far, I have got to say. It felt like there were long time where it seemed as though nothing much happened with relevance to the mission. Though when it did, it more than made up for it and is surely better than most. And a great relief not to be staggering from one huge battle to another.
The story is again a detective story, a whodunnit, set in the Roman Middle East, 273AD. Corbulo is once more handed the hot potato mission, this time to track down whoever is putting fake Roman money into the system. ‘The system’ is actually good, because while I didn’t think that ‘fake’ Roman money was either a thing, or a thing that would actually be a problem worth worrying about, it was, of course. Like it is today. It’s about confidence in the system and the consequences of that confidence being eroded or removed by uncertainty and mistrust. And that’s where Nick Browns books really come into their own. By showing us life, Roman life, as it was a little further down the scale from the Emperors and Generals usually written about, we can perhaps more easily relate it to our own lives and struggles. And see, both that the Romans were a lot like us, a lot further developed than people (me) usually would think for a people living 2,000 years ago, and – very little has changed.
The story is much more of a team effort, I felt, this time out. Simo and especially Indavara have increasingly important – even pivotal – roles to play. And…the whole thing hangs on an excellent …. to be continued-type theme at the end there. Great not to be neatly tied off, great to have me wanting to get stuck into the next one.
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