- Author: Alex Gough
- Genre: Historical Fiction
- Publication Date: November 24, 2022
- Publisher: Canelo
- Series: Imperial Assassin #6
Thank you to NetGalley and Canelo for providing me with an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
CONTENT WARNING: violence, murder, blood, suicide, profanity, gore, massacre, mention of rape, harm to animals
Massacres, invasions, plots. An Emperor on the edge. An Empire in peril.
Caracalla is on the warpath. Time, he has decided, to put his enemies in their place. To invade the Parthians at the edge of the Empire. To destroy everything in his way.
For Imperial Assassin Silus, this is a time of crisis. Forced to guard the Emperor as part of his elite bodyguard, Silus knows that the situation is untenable. As everything threatens to crumble, Silus must make the ultimate choice… and face the ultimate sacrifice.
The question is simple: will he turn traitor, for the sake of the Empire and the sake of his conscience? Or is loyalty, and the life of his charge Tituria, more important? As innocents die, as blood flows, as the Roman legions march on an epic scale, one thing is clear.
It’s decision time.
The thrilling climax to Alex Gough’s bestselling series, perfect for fans of Anthony Riches, Ben Kane and Bernard Cornwell.
I’ve gotten somewhat sucked into this series, and although I haven’t yet read all of the books, I’m pleased to discover that I didn’t have to read each of the books to be able to follow what is going on in this book. Gough has recreated the Roman Empire in all of it’s glory and revealed the grimy underside of the glitz, all through the eyes of our simple hero—Silus.
Silus is hard not to like. He’s a simple guy who rose through the ranks from a dumb mistake that he made in book 1. And while he paid dearly for his error, he’s also been granted an immense privilege, in being elevated to the ranks of the Imperial Assassins, or the Arcani. In this book, he’s also one of the Leones, or the elite guard of the Roman Empire, Caracalla. But during his years of service, he’s also seen some things that made him question his loyalty to this man, who has grown increasingly unbalanced and paranoid. Although he was witness to a massacre in Germania in an earlier book, he’s a witness to a new atrocity in this book that forces him to make a decision that throws his entire worldview into question.
In the upper ranks of the Empire, among those closest to the Emperor, it’s hard to know who to trust. This entire book simmers with tension, and I found myself absolutely unable to put it down. It starts with an action scene, and always, Silus is unwillingly thrown into a hot mess of a situation, one after another. He has very little say in the path of his life, and he struggles a lot with that in this book. I loved watching him maneuver around that, mentally and emotionally, and learn how to wrestle back some control over his life in whatever way he could.
The Roman Empire period is fascinating to me, and Gough clearly did his research. Everything was so detailed, from the architecture and the social structure, down to the attire and military techniques. This series ranges across the empire, starting in Britannia and moving across the SWANA (Southwest Asia and North Africa) area in this book. It was so interesting to see not just the different regions, but also the political intrigues of the times. There were so many plot twists, and I loved reading this story.
This is one of those books that you can’t miss, especially if you are a fan of historical fiction. It’s brimming with action, intrigue, and emotional plot lines that get their hooks into you and don’t let go. I was nearly crying by the end of the story, and although it says that this is the climax of the series, I can’t say that I’m ready to let go. I find myself hoping that there’s more to come from this, maybe a spin-off, because I seriously love all the characters (ok, most of the characters) in this series!
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
Categories: Book Review