Rating: A good book!
Some debts you cannot repay, even if you live forever…
Seasoned imperial officer Marcus Sempronius Gracchus leads the 9th Roman Legion into a bloody battle against a fierce barbarian rival. It’s a battle he won’t survive.
When he awakens three days later, clawing his way from a shallow grave, Marcus must face the reality of his new existence. He cannot be killed–but that won’t stop him from dying time and again over the next 2,000 years.
Meanwhile, others like Marcus plan to bring the world crashing to its knees. Can he prevent the inevitable and find redemption?
This is very Robert Langdon meets Jason Bourne. There’s action, excitement, intrigue, and a great big dollop of historical accuracy.
Greenwood is an expert when it comes to imagery. I could picture every place (and there were a lot of them) perfectly. Even the battle/fight scenes (which I usually find tedious in books) kept me hooked. Especially the battle at sea. I was fascinated by the tactics used during sea warfare.
I felt like I was really there, going through the movements with the main character, Marcus.
A few examples of some excellent imagery from the book:
- “Goat-sized boulders sailed through the air.”
- “Sam could see the dark figures huddled in the shadows, the orange glow of a cigarette piercing the night.”
- “The moon was directly overhead, staring down at him like a curious child.”
This book also made me laugh. I like my books like I like my men: funny!
There is this ongoing joke summed up perfectly by Marcus’s partner, Sam, when she says: “His problem isn’t getting into places; it’s getting out.”
And there were a couple of very clever lines that made me laugh out loud, but I won’t spoil them for you.
Marcus’s frenemy, Thomas, is the perfect villain. To me, a perfect villain is one you can see yourself in. You can understand exactly how the bad guy chose his or her path, you can even empathize with them, and that’s a little bit scary.
Now, there were a few things that kept this story from being perfect for me.
- Even though he’s been around for thousands of years, I just can’t see Marcus saying “duh” or “super inconvenient.” Just seems a little out of character to me, and it messed up the flow of the story.
- I did not realize that Thomas and Rebecca were married. At all. Maybe it’s just me, but I reread the section and nowhere did I see it mentioned. Maybe other readers inferred it, but I did not. That made the next chapter or two a little confusing.
- The big reveal about Thomas’s evildoing came out of the blue for me. While I understand that he turned away from Christianity and hates God and all that, I would have liked a little more transition from “Oh, he’s mad at God” to “Oh, he’s met so-and-so and they’re taking over the world together.”
- It gets a little rushed at the end. The majority of the book’s typos occurs in the last quarter of the book, including a very glaring error where the spelling of Gustaf changes to Gustav.
However, I got lost in this book, and that’s what makes a book worthwhile for me. I wanted to know what would happen next. I let my kids have an extra half an hour of TV so I could read another chapter. I love history, and you can tell B.K. Greenwood loves it, too.
This is book one in The Last Roman trilogy. The ending (while satisfying in its own right) left me wanting more. I’ll be grabbing Abyss for sure!
- He would never forget those eyes. Where was the pain or hatred? Why were they the perfect displays of compassion and pity?
- That was the problem with immortals, Marcus thought. They get used to pain.
- But the emptiness in his soul prevented him from reaching for her. He was scared he might pull her into that emptiness and it would consume them both.
Follow That Author!
Nitpicks and Random Thoughts:
(These are notes that did not affect my enjoyment of the story, but I wrote them down anyway.)
- I did not realize Nico was Nicodemus. That one I probably should have picked up on.
- Sam’s background is a bit of an info dump.
- Is Bysshe pronounced “bish” as in, “Swish, swish, bish?”
- Rebecca telling off her sister is the best.
- Would he have a room on the ship already if he’d just boarded?