Rome, The Emperor’s Spy

Written by M.C. Scott
Review by Mike Ashworth

This is a spy thriller which opens in Jerusalem in the reign of Tiberius where a young man, Math, watches as a body is removed surreptitiously from a tomb. The story then moves on to Gaul in the reign of Nero. It is here that Sebastos Abdes Pantera (the Leopard) becomes involved with Math, dock thief and apprentice charioteer, Ajax, his trainer and Hannah, a physician who was reared by the Sybils. The Emperor Nero, hearing a prophecy that Rome will burn, charges Pantera with stopping the impending catastrophe. Math, Ajax and Hannah are drawn into a deadly game where death is the price of failure.

This book takes off like a rocket from the opening sentence and does not let up until the final paragraph. The characters stride across the pages with colour and vibrancy, backed by compelling descriptions which bring alive the people and the cities. The action sequences, especially the chariot races are vivid, exciting and gripping. I could feel the sand on my face racing chariots in Alexandria and the heat from the fire as parts of Rome burned. Superb writing from a master story-teller, this is a book to keep and savour. Highly recommended.