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Britannia by Simon Scarrow
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This is the fourteenth in Scarrow's series following legionaries Cato and Macro. Like many Roman soldiers in novels, they've ended up on the miserable, soggy island that is Britannia with its weird natives who don't know what's good for them.

Say no more.

The governor has dropped dead, and Legate Quintatus is out to make his name as a Big Man by wiping out the druids, on the island of Mona (now Anglesey). This will, the Legate hopes, break the native resistance and allow the Romans to take over the island properly. The Romans will then be able to stop the various tribes fighting each other and transform Britannia into a proper, productive part of the empire.

Saying nothing.

Since this is a novel, and since it's Macro and Cato, you can be pretty sure that this isn't going to be a nice stroll in the park with a bit of nice exercise and then home for tea and medals.

Fans of the series will know what to expect: Roman politics, hair's-breadth escapes, ambushes, battles, and so on and so forth. Scarrow delivers on this, although the escapes are in somewhat short supply. This book is much more action rather than politics, as the Legate (and everyone else, although not necessarily in that order) discovers that the Legate is not the only person with a plan to sort out Britannia by getting rid of troublemakers.

And we all know how well that sort of thing goes.

This could actually be one of my favourite Macro & Cato books, simply for what Scarrow puts them through. There is no let-up as Cato et al struggle through the British weather to Mona. Just when you think it can't possibly get any worse, it does.

Unlike some, I liked the way this ended - I think we're going to be at the start of a new story arc in the next book, and it will be interesting to see where our two heroes end up. There was one thing that happened in the book that I really, really hope doesn't mean what it seems to mean. If it does - very disappointing, and not what I'd expect from Scarrow. If it doesn't - excellent move. You'll know it when you see it!

On the whole, a great addition to the series. ( )
  T_K_Elliott | Mar 12, 2017 |
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Simon Scarrow's veteran Roman soldier heroes face a cunning and relentless enemy in BRITANNIA. Roman Britain, AD 52. The western tribes, inspired by the Druids' hatred of the Romans, prepare to make a stand. But can they match the discipline and courage of the legionaries? Wounded during a skirmish, Centurion Macro remains behind in charge of the fort as Prefect Cato leads an invasion deep into the hills. Cato's mission: to cement Rome's triumph over the natives by crushing the Druid stronghold. But with winter drawing in, the terrain is barely passable through icy rain and snowstorms. When Macro's patrols report that the natives in the vicinity of the garrison are thinning out, a terrible suspicion takes shape in the battle-scarred soldier's mind. Has the acting Governor, Legate Quintatus, underestimated the enemy, his military judgement undermined by ambition? If there is a sophisticated and deadly plan afoot, it's Cato and his men who will pay the price.… (more)

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