Empire: Wounds of Honour

Written by Anthony Riches
Review by Martin Bourne

Marcus Valerius is a young Roman aristocrat whose family is judicially murdered on a trumped-up treason charge. Keeping just ahead of the Emperor’s death edicts, he flees to the edge of the Roman world, becoming a centurion on Hadrian’s Wall. Unfortunately, overwhelming numbers of the locals are plotting a revolt, and as the posh, junior officer, Marcus has been saddled with the unit’s rejects. Can he weld them into an effective fighting force in time?

Well, let us just say this is a story full of clichés. It’s a “new recruit” drama, and it could be easily transposed to any barracks in any time. For a self-confessed aficionado of the Roman experience, Mr Riches doesn’t convey a great deal of period feel into his first book. How did Romans and Celtic Brits speak, think and go about their business? According to Wounds of Honour, they went in for a lot of angst-ridden dialogue, which frankly surprised me.

The point of view jumps round a lot. The pacing is uneven, with many pages devoted to some events, and others skimped over. This is the first in a projected series. Let us hope for better things to come.