I have not read the previous 7 books in the Vespasian series and was relieved to find that you really don't need to in order to understand this book. Neither is a knowledge of Roman History required to make sense of it, in fact I would suggest that to have such would be a detriment to the book. No disrespect to Mr Fabbri but he himself admits in the Afterword that much of the tale is just that, a tale, and should not be taken as Historical fact.
This is a story of political intrigue and war-mongering machinations set in the time of perhaps, the most infamous Roman Emperor Nero - you know the one who fiddled while Rome burned. Whilst that has been proven to be historically inaccurate there is some truth to the slur; this is taken to further extrapolation in this book and it is even weirder than you may suppose.
I am not normally a reader of this style of book, political thrillers have never really been my thing and that is very definitely what this book is. Rather than the political systems that we are used to it is set in an earlier autocracy but the rules of "combat" are the same - watch your back and look out for the main chance.
The writing is good and jogs along at a steady pace. The issue I had was the unfamiliarity of the names kept jolting me out of the tale. Not the author's fault but mine I appreciate. The plot is good if sometimes a little muddy and there is action aplenty with an almost gleeful delight in the retelling of actions which we would now think of as barbarous but which were everyday at the turn of the first millennium.
I enjoyed this book to some extent but would not hurry to read any of the previous 7 due to personal preferences. If this is a genre that you enjoy then I would urge you to pick the book up as it will give you a great deal of pleasure.
I RECEIVED A FREE COPY OF THIS BOOK FROM READERS FIRST IN EXCHANGE FOR AN HONEST REVIEW.