Blood of Rome: Caratacus (The Blood of Rome Chronicles)
As a debut novel, Salter has created an authentic portrayal of early Roman Britain. He is obviously passionate about his period: 43 AD when Rome’s Emperor, Claudius, is looking towards gaining a new province: Britannia. The southern tribes have surrendered, but there are those who oppose Rome’s domination, notably the Catuvellauni led by Caractacus. The struggle which follows is as brave as it is hopeless, but these are people who are fighting for their freedom, and death in battle is a worthwhile price to pay. The depiction of Legate Vespasian of the Second Augusta adds another dimension to the story as he struggles to bring the unruly tribes to heel.
The dilemma of the main characters as to what to do – to fight for freedom or to submit – are thought-provoking; I was often thinking while reading, what would I do in this situation? There are some good plot twists and the battle scenes are handled well. Salter seems to have his facts correct, although I cannot confirm his accuracy.
Overall, this is a good story of the Roman invasion of Britain, but the opening was somewhat slow, a little like reading a history lecture. The story would have been better if it had started with action, not an explanation of what had been happening. There is perhaps too much ‘tell’ and not enough ‘show’, and there are a few repeated words and errors of punctuation and grammar; however, I read an early, incorrectly formatted edition, which has since been re-published, I believe, so these might have been attended to. I would strongly suggest the author considers investing in a good editor who could assist him to blossom from a novice writer to the professional one he deserves to become.
A good story which readers who appreciate this period may enjoy.