Traitor: 2 (The Raven and the Eagle series)

Written by Geraint Jones
Review by Aidan K. Morrissey

This is the continuing story of Corvus, Eighth Legion standard bearer, soon to become deserter, during the Bellum Batonianum (6-9 AD). Disillusioned with war, he decides to desert and go home to Dalmatia. Events on his arrival force Corvus to abandon his pacifism and return to the battlefields to fight against his former brothers-in-arms.

Not having read Thomas’s previous book, Legion, which deals with Corvus’s experiences before this novel, the motivation for the desertion seemed a little weak; more information is gleaned as the journey unfolds. This novel is an excellent treatise on the feelings of a soldier and his reaction to certain events, but it lacks the sense of place and time, as there is very little, if any, description. Much of the action takes place in mountains—but the extent of their description is: ‘tall mountains,’ ‘high mountain peaks,’ and similar. There is nothing to immerse the reader in the place. The author has clearly done his research into the Illyricum wars, but the story is centrally one of the internal machinations of the lead character.  The author repeatedly infers that the punishment for desertion is crucifixion; however, in this period of Roman history a ‘trasfuga’ of Corvus’s standing would be more likely to have suffered death by stoning or been thrown from a cliff.

Geraint Jones attempts to make the novel feel contemporary by using some modern terminology, but using expressions like ‘matey,’ ‘mate,’ or ‘bloke,’ as in: ‘stick a uniform on a bloke and girls forget that he’s just the same lump of flesh as any other man. Go all weak at the knees they do’ feel anachronistic and detract from the good parts of the novel, of which there are many.