ARRIUS Volume 2: Legacy
This second volume of the Arrius saga follows the pattern of Volume 1. Arrius is now military commander of an outpost of Rome in the year 136 CE. He faces problems requiring complex solutions on a daily basis. At the highest level, there are the politics of Rome and the need to become invisible as the emperor falls into insanity.
More immediate issues are the jealousies of other commanders, the incompetence and squabbling of some soldiers, not to mention the hostile tribes on both sides of Hadrian’s Wall in northern England. Arrius is in a remote area, the terrain difficult, the weather cold and wet, local tribes seeking every opportunity to attack. The only positive is Arrius’s slowly developing relationship with the local woman Ilya.
While there are moments of well-written emotion and feeling in this novel, it is principally concerned with military tactics. Holtry has had a distinguished military and intelligence-related career. He applies much of his knowledge and understanding of this to Arrius’s task of safely maintaining the outposts within the military structure and traditions of Rome.
This novel is a blend of historical research and Holtry’s own practical experience. He writes with an intensity that makes the military detail compelling. His detail of the punishment meted out to guards caught sleeping on duty is both personally evocative and closely relevant to the plot. The military strategies of the nearby tribes are also probed. They are shown not merely as ignorant locals but as people with strengths and knowledge in outwitting the invaders while struggling with their own difficulties, rivalries, and priorities.
Recent military realities are reflected in this book and contribute to its intensity. It is a gripping read. I am looking forward to the third book in the series.