Saviour of Rome

Written by Douglas Jackson
Review by Gordon O'Sullivan

The seventh novel in the superb Hero of Rome series, Saviour of Rome, brings Roman hero, Gaius Valerius Verrens, to Spain, the homeland of his right-hand man and former gladiator, Serpentius. Dispatched by Emperor Vespasian on a mission vital to the financial well-being of the Roman Empire, Verrens has no choice but to leave his new bride behind as he embarks on a dangerous mission to discover why the course of Spanish gold no longer runs smooth. Can Verrens find out why the normally fecund Spanish gold mines are delivering only a fraction of their former levels before he is assassinated by one of the many enemies that seem to oppose him? And can he still depend on his Spanish comrade Serpentius?

This is another satisfying adventure that will delight the Roman historical fiction fan. Douglas Jackson has once more placed his one-handed war hero in a desperate fight against seemingly overwhelming odds, trying to save his own life and to safeguard those he loves best. Jackson never lets the pace of his story falter while keeping the scrapes his hero gets into realistic and believable, and fully germane to the twisty narrative. As you would expect from the seventh novel in such a series, the author is fully comfortable with the intricacies of the Verrens character. As readers have also come to expect, Jackson marshals his research with a beguiling ease and an impressive authority but always in support of the story. The sense of place is particularly strong in this Verrens instalment, and much is revealed about the events that marked the character of Serpentius as the adventure progresses to a finale in his homeland. With battle scenes as strong and intense as ever, this series gets better and better, ageing as well as a good Falernian wine.