Here’s the blurb
Easier to split the sky, than part a soldier from his blade.
386 AD. The Eastern Roman Empire faces a trident of threats. The Gothic truce grows unstable. The standoff with Persia escalates. And the ambitions of the usurper on the Western throne grow dangerously unchecked.
Pavo, a broken veteran of the legions, cares for none of these things. His life is one of pastoral seclusion on his Thracian farm. A life of love, of peace. His wife and young son are his world. Still, every so often, things seen and done in his old life haunt him, like a cold and unwelcome breeze. But that is all they are, echoes of the past…
…until the past rises, like a shade, to rip his world and the Roman Empire apart.
The Emperor’s Shield by Gordon Doherty is the ninth book in the Legionary series, and you guessed it, it’s the first book in the series that I’ve read:) (This is somewhat of a theme for me).
That said, I had no problem being gripped by the story. Pavo is a wonderful character, and while to begin with I did think this was ‘his’ story, more characters were quickly introduced, and the world of the late 300s of the Roman Empire sharply come into focus. This isn’t a period I know a great deal about – especially not in the Eastern Empire, but Pavo, his wife, son and Frugilo, make the period come alive. The camaraderie between Pavo and his old friends, add the human touch to the story, which is a complex web of lies and misdirection taking place over vast distances.
This is truly a story on an epic scale. It probably has a cast of thousands, although not all of them are named. There are warriors from all corners of the Roman Empire, East and West, and Pavo is in the thick of it all, as one of the Eastern Emperor’s elite bodyguard.
The tension throughout the final 25% of the book ramps up spectacularly, and I had to stop myself from googling the period to find out what actually happened, before I got to the end.
A thrilling tale of empire and conspiracy, that certainly leaves the reader desperate to go back to book 1, or eagerly waiting for book 10. A true triumph of the genre.
Meet the author
Gordon Doherty is the author of the Legionary and Strategos series, and wrote the Assassin’s Creed tie-in novel Odyssey. He is based in Scotland.
Check out my reviews for Sons of Rome, Masters of Rome, Gods of Rome written by Gordon Doherty and Simon Turney.
(This post contains an Amazon affiliate link)