Emperor Claudius needs to secure his tenuous position in Rome and sets his sights on victory in Britain as a sure-fire winner. In far off Britain, King Caractacus and his rival tribal leaders unite to face a vicious and unforgiving enemy, certain in the knowledge that they can win a great victory – and therefore lasting peace – for themselves.
Into this maelstrom is cast the slave Rufus, an animal trainer with a unique position – that of elephant keeper to the emperor himself. He and his pachyderm charge, Bersheba, are in Britain for uncertain reasons. Their emperor has commanded and they have obeyed.
Then, when a Roman victory seems a bloody certainty the truth dawns – they are there to put fear of the gods into the Britons. To embody the very might and power of the Roman Empire and to prove the potency of Claudius himself. All of which makes them an obvious target for the wrath of the Britons.
This is top quality storytelling with an almost filmic quality, and it is obvious that Douglas Jackson has really hit his stride with this second novel featuring Rufus the animal trainer. He seems completely comfortable with his Roman history whilst producing plot, character and dialogue of the highest order.
Visceral, yet undeniably gripping, Claudius might not be a book for the squeamish (like Caligula before it), but it is not to be missed by those who like their history to be thrilling and action-packed from start to finish.