Specialises in the Roman period.
However, also moonlights as James Douglas, the rather excellent purveyor of thrilling historical action thrillers.
Gaius Valerius Verrens
Hero of Rome (Gaius Valerius Verrens 1)
The Roman grip on Britain is weakening. Emperor Nero has turned his face away from this far-flung outpost. The Druids are on the rise, spreading seeds of rebellion among the British tribes. Roman cruelty and exploitation has angered their British subjects. The warrior queen Boudicca will lead the tribes to war. Standing against the rising tide of Boudicca’s rebellion is Roman Tribune, Gaius Valerius Verrens, Commander of the veteran legions at Colonia. Valerius leads the veterans in a last stand against the unstoppable horde of Boudicca’s rebel army. Step by step, the bloodied survivors are forced back into the Temple of Claudius. It is here that Valerius wins lifelong fame and the accolade Hero of Rome.
Defender of Rome (Gaius Valerius Verrens 2)
Gaius Valerius Verrens returns to Rome from the successful campaign against Boudicca in Britain. Now hailed a ‘Hero of Rome’, Valerius is not the man he once was – scarred both physically and emotionally by the battles he has fought, his sister is mortally ill, his father in self-imposed exile. And neither is Rome the same city as the one he left. The Emperor Nero grows increasingly paranoid. Those who seek power for themselves whisper darkly in the emperor’s ears. They speak of a new threat, one found within the walls of Rome itself. A new religious sect, the followers of Christus, deny Nero’s divinity and are rumoured to be spreading sedition. Nero calls on his ‘Hero of Rome’ to become a ‘Defender of Rome’, to seek out this rebel sect, to capture their leader, a man known as Petrus. Failure would be to forfeit his life, and the lives of twenty thousands Judaeans living in Rome. But as Valerius begins his search, a quest which will take him to the edge of the empire, he will discover that success may cost him nearly as much as failure.
Avenger of Rome (Gaius Valerius Verrens 3)
Emperor Nero’s grip on power is weakening. In every shadow he sees an enemy and like a cornered animal he lashes out at every perceived threat. His paranoia settles on the figure of Gnaeus Domitius Corbulo, Rome’s greatest General who leads the imperial legions in the East. So popular is Corbulo with his men that he effective presides over an Empire within an Empire. Is Corbulo preparing to march against Rome and take the purple? Gaius Valerius Verrens, Hero of Rome, is ordered to Antioch with the power of life and death over Corbulo, a soldier he worships. There he finds word of his mission has preceded him and every man’s hand is turned against him. But Corbulo’s eyes are not on Rome, but on a new threat to the Empire’s border. The Parthian King of Kings, Vologases, is marching to war and with such an army that if not stopped he might overwhelm the entire Roman east. Valerius marches at Corbulo’s side. Outnumbered they make a stand in the barren wastes beyond the Tigris to meet Vologases in an epic contest of military might and ingenuity that will decide the fate of the Empire. And while he fights for the Empire, and for his own survival on the battlefield, Valerius must decide whether to complete his mission, or risk incurring his Emperor’s dangerous wrath.
Sword of Rome (Gaius Valerius Verrens 4)
‘The story I now commence is rich in vicissitudes, grim with warfare, torn by civil strife, a tale of horror even during times of peace.’ Tacitus, The Histories
AD 68. The Emperor Nero’s erratic and bloody reign is in its death throes when Gaius Valerius Verrens is dispatched to Rome on a mission that will bring it to a close. With Nero dead, the city holds its breath and awaits the arrival his successor, Servius Sulpicius Galba, governor of Hispania. The Empire prays for peace, but it prays in vain. Galba promises stability and prosperity, but his rule begins with a massacre and ends only months later in chaos and carnage. This will become known as the Year of the Four Emperors, a time of civil war which will tear Rome apart and test Valerius’s skills and loyalties to their very limit. Fortunate to survive Galba’s fall, Valerius is sent on a mission by Rome’s new Emperor, Otho, to his old friend Vitellius, commander of the armies of the north. Vitellius’s legions are on the march, and only Valerius can persuade him to halt them before the inevitable confrontation. In an epic adventure that will take him the length and breadth of a divided land, the one-armed Roman fights to stay alive and stave off a bloodbath as he is stalked by the most implacable enemy he has ever faced.
Enemy of Rome (Gaius Valerius Verrens 5)
Summer, AD69. Rome and its empire are in turmoil, caught in the coils of a desperate and destructive civil war. The emperor Otho is dead by his own hand and his rival, Aulus Vitellius, occupies the imperial throne. However, a new challenge has arisen in the East – the legions of Titus Flavius Vespasian have declared him their emperor. In the dry heat of an August morning, Gaius Valerius Verrens prepares for his last day on earth. Wrongly accused of deserting his legion in the field of Bedriacum, it seems he is destined to die a coward’s death. Then the executioner’s hand is stayed. Vitellius’ enemies will spare the life of the man who was once Hero of Rome if he pledges allegiance to Vespasian and his cause. Valorise – tired of the endless slaughter and hoping that he might be reunited with his lost love – agrees. And so he must battle his way south to Rome in order to persuade his friend Vitellius to stand down for the greater good of the city, its people and the Empire. But this is civil war and this is Rome, and Valerius – his loyalties divided and branded an enemy of the people – is trapped in a maze of distrust, corruption, betrayal and blood-letting…
Scourge of Rome (Gaius Valerius Verrens 6)
70AD. Disgraced, dishonoured and banished into exile on pain of execution if he ever returns to Rome, the former military tribune Gaius Valerius Verrens makes his way East through the death and destruction of the savage Judaean rebellion. Valerius knows his only hope of long term survival and a restoration of his family’s fortunes lie with his friend Titus, commander of the Army of Judaea and son of the newly crowned Emperor Vespasian.
But when he reaches the ring of legionary camps around the seemingly impregnable city of Jerusalem he finds Titus a changed man. Gone is the cheerful young officer he knew, replaced by a tough, ruthless soldier under pressure from his father to end the insurrection at any cost. Soon, Valerius finds himself at the centre of a web of intrigue spun by Titus’s lover, Queen Berenice of Cilicia, and her sometime ally, the general’s turncoat adviser, Flavius Josephus, who have an ulterior motive for ending the siege quickly.
Yet the laurels that will regain his honour cannot be won in the negotiations in the murky tunnels beneath Jerusalem. Only amid the fire and blood of battle will he equal the glory that brought him the title Hero of Rome.
Roman Trilogy (though I can only find two)
Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus, the third Roman Emperor, is better known by another name: Caligula, a name synonymous with decadence, cruelty and madness. His reign was marked by excess, huge building projects, the largest gladiatorial battles Rome was ever to see – men and animals killed in their hundreds – conspiracies, assassination attempts and sexual scandal. Rufus as a young slave grows up far from the corruption of the imperial court. His master is a trainer of animals for the gladiatorial arena. Rufus discovers that he has a natural ability with animals, a talent for controlling and schooling them. It is at the arenas that Rufus meets his great friend Cupido, one of Rome’s greatest gladiators. It is his growing reputation as an animal trainer and his friendship with Cupido that attracts the cruel gaze of the Emperor. Caligula wants a keeper for the imperial elephant and Rufus is bought from his master and taken to the imperial palace. Life here is dictated by Caligula’s ever shifting moods. Caligula is as generous as he is cruel, he is a megalomaniac who declares himself a living god and simultaneously lives in constant fear of the plots against his life. But his paranoia is not misplaced, intrigue permeates his court, and Rufus and Cupido find themselves unwittingly placed at the centre of a conspiracy to assassinate the Emperor.
Claudius – Emperor of Rome, conqueror of Britain, has unleashed the Roman legions against Britain. Caractacus, war chief of the Britons, must unite the tribes for a desperate last stand. Claudius desires total conquest. Caractacus will fight for freedom. An epic battle is coming. Heroes will be made and kings will fall in a struggle that will echo through the annals of history.