Book Review

Emperor’s Spear

Emperor’s Spear

  • Author: Alex Gough
  • Genre: Historical Fiction
  • Publication Date: January 14, 2021
  • Publisher: Canelo Adventure
  • Series: Imperial Assassin #4

Thank you to NetGalley for giving me an ARC of this book. I am providing my honest opinion voluntarily.

CONTENT WARNING: mention of slavery, gore, torture, mention of rape, description of a massacre

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

On the Empire’s Northern border trouble is stirring. For decades the barbarians have been at the gates. Now, facing threats from within as well as outside, the Emperor is provoking war.

When his friend Atius goes missing in Germania, Imperial Assassin Silus is sent into the heart of the battle-torn region.

Plunged into a deadly intrigue and a brutal conflict, can Silus find out who is betraying Rome? Or will the legions start falling, one by bloody one?

I’ve been on a historical fiction kick lately, and while some are hit or miss, this one didn’t let me down. However, I didn’t realize that this was the fourth book in a series until I downloaded it and began reading. There was some information provided about events that happened earlier in the series, but it was done in a way that didn’t feel like an info dump, and also made me want to go back and read the earlier books in the series. 

The story is told from the point of view of two main characters, Silus and Atius, and it takes place over a period of several months in 213 AD. At first, it jumps back and forth a little bit, from one point in time to three months prior, as we follow Silus on his journey to find Atius, and we learn what happened to Atius on his mission in Germania. 

There’s a lot of action throughout the book, and it’s fairly fast paced. I was riveted, and was surprised at how interested I got in this period of history. I always found history classes somewhat interesting but kind of dry, and I’ve learned that well-written historical fiction can bring the past alive in a way that my classes in school never managed to. This book also had the added bonus of touching on history that I never even learned about in any of my schooling. We learned about the highlights of the Roman Empire, but I don’t recall any of the specifics. I actually wound up calling my nephew while reading this to name drop the series to him, since he’s always been a huge fan of Roman history.

There’s one battle scene that is fabulously written, and I was often on the edge of my seat while reading tense scenes. The characters are realistic, displaying complex emotions, and reacting to situations and conflict much like people do today. As I’d expect in a novel set in the Roman Empire, there’s no shortage of plotting, greed, and political maneuvering. But that’s part of what makes this so intriguing. 

While there was one plot twist that I figured out quickly, the majority of them were unpredictable, which I always like in a book. I mean, if I could figure out what is going to happen, why bother reading the book, am I right? I’ve never heard of this author before, but by the time I finished this book, the rest of the series was already added to my wishlist, and I’m heartbroken that my library system has none of them! 

People who have sat around with me while I’m reading, especially when there’s a surprising reveal, a shocking plot twist, or an unexpected event often look up in alarm when I gasp audibly. The gasp factor is directly related to the number of times I audibly gasp during a reading, and there isn’t an upper limit.

Gasp Factor: 12

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