The Last Roman: Exile
In B. K. Greenwood’s debut novel, a Roman commander has been given the unpleasant task of supervising the day’s crucifixions. When the time comes to dispatch the thin Jew claimed by his followers to be the Son of God, Marcus Gracchus is touched by the blood of Christ as he withdraws his sword. His penalty: a tainted immortality that begins a tale spanning two thousand years, alternating between seminal historical events and a present-day plot orchestrated by an embittered immortal who wishes to destroy civilization.
Greenwood’s writing can be adjectively excessive, and is occasionally weighed down by unnecessary detail. But that doesn’t matter, because he has a real talent for plot and action, and the novel races forward in a style that may remind readers of Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code. Marcus’ tactical thinking and close-infighting skills are worthy of Jason Bourne and, as we follow him over the centuries, the novel leaps from Charles Martel’s defeat of the Saracens at Tours in 732 to the Turks’ bloody conquest of Constantinople in 1453, to gunfights in the streets of Paris and infiltrations of the Vatican in the present. If you like action and, as required by most time-bending fiction, don’t examine the premises too closely, this is a ride that will keep you pinned to your seat from start to finish.
Readers should be warned that the finish leaves you hanging, as Exile is the first of what is designed to be a multi-volume series. Perhaps as the series proceeds, Greenwood will better flesh out his characters. In the meantime, the plot and action are enough to keep you turning pages.