The Encircling Sea

Written by Adrian Goldsworthy
Review by Chris James

The Encircling Sea sees the return of Goldsworthy’s loveable rogue Flavius Ferox to the northern frontier of Roman Britain in 100 AD. Roughly twenty years before the construction of Hadrian’s Wall, the ‘border’ is loosely marked by a zone of Roman forts and treaties with local tribes, making it an unstable and dangerous area. Threats are not confined to those directly north and south of this area, though, as raiders strike from ports unknown across the Irish Sea. It is this situation that Ferox, the regional centurion, must deal with to maintain this distant part of Rome’s empire.

With Goldsworthy’s academic background, the historical accuracy of the novel is unquestioned. More impressive are the quality of the narrative and complexity of the characters. More of an adventure novel than the usual sword-and-sandals epic, The Encircling Sea is a hugely enjoyable read by a master of non-fiction turned deft hand at Roman historical fiction. If you’re looking for a book of this genre, you’d do well to start with this series. Recommended.