Swords Around the Throne: Twilight of Empire II

Written by Ian Ross
Review by Chris James

Swords Around the Throne is the second novel in Ian Ross’ Twilight of Empire series, set amid the fallout in the late Roman Empire after the end of the first tetrarchy (i.e., the abdication of Diocletian and Maximian). Put simply, the Roman Empire is in turmoil as civil war erupts between rival claimants to the title of Augustus (Emperor). Against this backdrop comes the protagonist of the series, Aurelius Castus, a no-nonsense centurion newly promoted to the imperial bodyguard of Constantine, whom he recognises as the legitimate Emperor. Away from the familiarity of the battlefield danger comes in the form of plots and intrigue, where it is unclear whose side anyone is on but their own.

The book begins with action aplenty and then is a slow-burning plot development before a great finale, the details of which are for readers to find out for themselves! It is mostly set in what is now France, a key area in the struggle to control the western Empire. As Roman militaries go, it is a sound read with down-to-earth characters, drama, action and a good plot. Other than this it is notable for the oft-neglected period it treats and a high standard of research. Recommended.