Arrius: Volume III, Enemy of Rome

Written by Preston Holtry
Review by Valerie Adolph

This third novel in the Arrius trilogy finds the Romans expanding northwards into Scotland from Hadrian’s Wall. Arrius, once a career Roman officer, battle-tested and sagacious, has joined the motley collection of tribes opposing them.

His concern now is the welfare of his wife Ilya and their son. Ilya has been chosen to lead her tribe, and she relies on Arrius’s understanding of the tactics of the Roman military as well as his knowledge and confidence in battle. But they are surrounded by other tribes who are more warlike and untrustworthy allies. As the Romans move northwards over tribal lands, Ilya and her people are forced to look to these other tribes for alliances and support.

But all is not running smoothly in the Roman camp. Tiberias Querinius, an unpopular leader, has troops on the verge of revolt against his cruel and vindictive punishments—the severest of which he is saving for Arrius. And Arrius, in an effort to save hostages, virtually delivers himself into the Roman stronghold.

Holtry sustains, in this third novel of the trilogy, all the suspense and complications we have come to expect from the first two. His knowledge of military strategy, both Roman and tribal, is conveyed with both passion and understanding. His knowledge of the way men think in battle, when on guard duty, and when following a leader who might be taking them to their death – it all has the ring of truth and experience.

Yet Holtry intersperses battles and fights with moments of quiet as Arrius interacts with his wife and son. Each book in this trilogy stands alone, but together they give a comprehensive view not only of the army of Rome but also of the tribes as they struggle against the inevitable Roman advance. A compelling and enthralling read.