Strategos: Born in the Borderlands
As in Doherty’s superb novel Legionary, so too in Strategos: the story is set during a period of Roman history that most writers don’t touch and that will therefore be unfamiliar to most readers of historical fiction. This time the setting is the eleventh century—empire chafing along its border with the rising power of the Seljuk Turks. In Eastern Anatolia we meet a young man named Apion whose story begins in sudden tragedy and progresses through a good baker’s dozen of the extremely vivid, extremely violent action—and battle—scenes Doherty clearly loves to write. This is a narrative technique well-exploited by authors like Ben Kane and Simon Scarrow, and Doherty is every bit their equal in his skill at balancing terse, convincing character-sketches with bone-jarring descriptions of violence. Apion himself is a slightly unbelievable character, but the fully realized world in which he makes his way is the book’s main draw. Recommended for military fiction fans.