The dialogue fits the narrative with ease and is evidenced with plenty of forethought. The melding of storylines adds to the believability of the narrative. Mar 03, Mary rated it it was amazing. Although his emperor, Nero, has bestowed upon him the corona aurea, pronouncing him a hero of Rome, Valerius finds Nero's court filled with treacherous, ambitious men who consider him a threat to their dreams of power.
He also finds his sister on the brink of death from a lingering illness and his father strangely distant. All he wants is to return to the legions now that he has been fitted with a Gaius Valerius Verrens has returned to Rome after surviving the brutal Boudiccan Revolt in Britain.
All he wants is to return to the legions now that he has been fitted with a walnut fist to replace the hand taken from him in payment for his life by the woman he once loved and an Iceni nobleman he once called friend. But Nero is a creature of perverted fascinations and toys with Valerius, hoping to add a hero of Rome to his stable of conquests. So, Valerius spends his days retraining to become a left-handed swordsman in a local gladiator school, hoping to somehow convince the emperor to reward him with a new military posting instead. One day, a summons arrives and Valerius is astonished to learn from the Praetorian Prefect that he has been assigned the task of finding the hiding place of Petras, a follower of a crucified Judean rebel called Christus.
Jackson had told me the second book was quite a bit different from the first book in the series, so at this point I had reservations about the direction the story was going.
Defender of Rome
I had bonded with the warrior protagonist in the first book and I certainly didn't want him transformed into a meek pacifist. But, as it turns out, I didn't need to worry about that. Valerius' pursuit of Petras becomes a tense cat and mouse game complicated by the efforts of the powerful Praetorian Prefect and his nasty henchman to spy on Valerius so they can stay one step ahead of him and ultimately capture Petras themselves to garner any laurels that are to be had from Nero and hopefully destroy Valerius in the process. Their betrayal is not the only forces working against Valerius either.
During his investigations he discovers his old neighbor and tutor, Seneca, has designs on Valerius and his family's estates as well. As the search progresses, Valerius inadvertently reveals some highly placed members of the Christus cult and he is horrified to witness Nero's disposal of the cult members in a gruesome orgy of slashing teeth and seering flame.
Valerius begins to loathe his assignment, but is threatened with the destruction of his entire family if he does not continue. Historical note - Faustus Cornelius Sulla Felix, a descendant of the famous Roman general, Lucius Cornelius Sulla, was executed by Nero in 62 CE, although he was cut down by assassins sent by Tigellinus at dinner, not in the way described in Jackson's story. He was also not a beautiful, golden-haired youth but gray and balding at the time of his death.
It is said that Nero would tease the remains of the ill-fated Sulla's head, as the head was kept in the palace for a time, despite the fact that Sulla had been married to the Emperor Claudius' daughter and Sulla's grandmother was a niece of Augustus, making him officially a member of the Julio-Claudian dynasty. Also, at one point in the narrative, Valerius becomes aware of the torture of a patrician noblewoman thought to be conspiring with the Christus sect. The woman is being held in the deepest recesses of the Praetorian's prison and, although such clandestine torture did occur, torture was not typically used against Roman citizens, especially the elite, in the early Imperial Period.
The protection of Roman citizens against pre-condemnation torture was essentially assured by the lex Julia de vi publica, passed into law during the Republican period.
This protection was not significantly eroded until the Severan Period. The taut climax is every bit as exciting and ultimately gratifying as Valerius' courageous defense of the Temple of Claudius in the first novel. Once again I highly recommend this book, the second in the series. Jackson's characterizations are absolutely vivid.
His Nero made my skin crawl. Likewise, Jackson's action sequences are perfectly choreographed to keep the reader in excruciating suspense until the last moment and the plot twists keep you guessing until the final pages. May 05, Robin Carter rated it it was amazing Shelves: Review I was totally blown away by this book, the last Verrens title "Hero of Rome" was in my opinion a step up in writing from Douglas Jacksons previous books, books that i totally enjoyed, but were not in the same league as "Hero of Rome".
Defender of Rome takes yet another leap forward. This book keeps the brilliantly written characters the flowing gripping action and pace and story arc that the last book had, but then adds in the new angle of political intrigue in the frightening world of Empe Review I was totally blown away by this book, the last Verrens title "Hero of Rome" was in my opinion a step up in writing from Douglas Jacksons previous books, books that i totally enjoyed, but were not in the same league as "Hero of Rome". This book keeps the brilliantly written characters the flowing gripping action and pace and story arc that the last book had, but then adds in the new angle of political intrigue in the frightening world of Emperor Nero, so well told in this book i was scared for Varrens and still now i wonder which is the real Nero and which is the actor?
This book clearly catapults Douglas into the top flight of Roman Historical Fiction Writers and very much deserves to hit the top of the best seller charts. I have read what i consider to be many of the best books past and present and this holds it own with a heck of a lot of them. I very much look forward to the next book by Douglas, and am very intrigued by the forthcoming Doomsday Testament coming out under the name James Douglas, if as im sure the writing quality transfers across then its going to be a great read. Oct 11, John Salter rated it it was amazing. Having read all of Douglas Jacksons previous books and thoroughly enjoyed them, I was really looking forward to Defender of Rome but to be honest I didn't know if this story would live up to his last, Hero of Rome which for me was an absolutely brilliant story set in Britannia at the time of the Iceni revolt in AD The main character Gaius Valerius Verrens returns from Britannia slightly battered and bruised after his escapades in Hero and finds himself a civilian partly and working in very Having read all of Douglas Jacksons previous books and thoroughly enjoyed them, I was really looking forward to Defender of Rome but to be honest I didn't know if this story would live up to his last, Hero of Rome which for me was an absolutely brilliant story set in Britannia at the time of the Iceni revolt in AD The main character Gaius Valerius Verrens returns from Britannia slightly battered and bruised after his escapades in Hero and finds himself a civilian partly and working in very close proximity to the Emperor Nero, who is beginning to lose his sanity as the story depicts.
As Nero sees what he identifies as a threat coming in the form of 'a cult' in the people who follow the martyred Christus Jesus of a few decades before, Valerius finds himself in the middle of a dark world where he is bound to serve Rome and his Emperor but he is also concerned for the safety of those around him and his family as the shadowy world of politics, duty and insanity combine in a book that is a great thriller set in ancient Rome. One of the great things about Mr Jacksons books is that he creates characters, some of whom you genuinely care about and others who you would like to take a sword to as he so cleverly does again with Defender of Rome what he has with previous works.
This is a wonderfully created novel where you as the reader can easily imagine the world where Douglas Jacksons characters live their lives, experience their danger and almost live amongst them as you 'see' the novel unfold. There are a few very good authors out there at the moment writing about the Roman Empire and all its highs and lows and for me, Douglas Jackson is up there with the very best of them, fantastic book and highly recommended.
Bringing Valerius out of the legion did work and I think it shows the versatility of the author to create something different but to still maintain that intrigue and genuine belief you too are walking through the streets of Ancient Rome. If you like this genre, then I would highly recommend Douglas Jackson books, get them all, you won't be disappointed. Sep 01, Ru rated it liked it. The sequel to "Hero of Rome", this novel takes its protagonist Gaius Valerius Verrens down a different path than one might expect.
It is worth noting that if the first book was an action novel, this book is much more of a drama. The battles within it are often sparse, or at least it felt that way, but I have to commend Douglas Jackson for transforming Valerius so deftly from one book to the next. The story revolves around the followers of "Christus" growing in numbers, and causing much consternat The sequel to "Hero of Rome", this novel takes its protagonist Gaius Valerius Verrens down a different path than one might expect. The story revolves around the followers of "Christus" growing in numbers, and causing much consternation in the mind of Emperor Nero.
Thus, Nero turns to his newly-crowned Hero of Rome to investigate and stop those leading the so-called sect. Valerius, having been triumphant against Boudicca's forces in Britania, returns to Rome a somewhat changed man under the weight of battle. And, so, he is part lawyer, part detective, part adventurer in this story. For the most part that works, but I certainly wished he had been more of one than another throughout the book.
If the first story represented warfare, this book represents religion and politics.
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Also, the pacing felt slightly flat at times and I wished for more action than discussion. Nevertheless, Valerius is appealing enough to keep the story entertaining. Douglas Jackson writes incredibly well, and for that fact alone, this book is a true delight. Most authors would not change gears in the manner he did from the first book to the next, and without question, I'm excited to find out what happens in the third book.
I did find there is a bit of a learning curve to some of the Roman names and who they are, but I believe I had the same issue with the first book as well I now wish I'd read my review of the first book from last year before starting this one , but it doesn't detract from the overall experience.
Defender of Rome (gaius Valerius Verrens 2) Douglas Jackson 059306514x
Nov 30, Nick Brett rated it really liked it. Nero is mad, bad and dangerous and sets Valerius an impossible task, to track down the leader of the Christians that he sees as a threat to the Empire. So this is a dark and dangerous story and one you will be unable to predict where it is taking you. Most novels that play with the theme of a central figure with integrity and determination always allow the last minute clever escape, not so this one and that is what now makes Valerius a far more complex and interesting character.
For those who like a bit of action there is also plenty of that but within a dark and dangerous political landscape. The story of growing Christianity in the Roman Empire gave an interesting and complex dynamic to the story and Douglas Jackson has populated it with a range of detailed and diverse characters. Dark, thought provoking and recommended. Aug 24, Roger P rated it liked it.
Really loved this Author's first book in the series with the setting of Boudicca's rebellion in Celtic Britain. The main character, Valerius, is now back in Rome with the plot line related to the increasing presence of Christianity during the reign of Nero. Valerius is still a great character, and the setting and dialogue is often quite good. For me when I read historical fiction I expect one of several approaches: We have an author's post-script defending this, but it really doesn't help. I will still try the next book in the series and home for the best.
A good read, but I do prefer my historical intrigue on the Machiavellian level of mischief, not so much a soldier running around hunting xians and trying to protect his sister. I would like to read an account of how Seneca schemed and plotted to gain and retain power in ancient Rome.
That would be cool. No one ever has a good word to say about this man. So he had a few problems, a few issues, but the guy could throw a great party. As for killing off the aristocracy. Great, thin th A good read, but I do prefer my historical intrigue on the Machiavellian level of mischief, not so much a soldier running around hunting xians and trying to protect his sister. Great, thin them out I say. I am thinking of creating a website for Nero, to tell the other side of the story.
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But seriously folks, the use of the "week" in the novel. This is the bane of my existence. All ancient fictional stories are littered with weeks. The week did not come into common usage until the mid 1st century ok, the time of this novel I admit , but the eight day market interval was in more widespread use at this time. There should be fewer weeks mentioned and more market days. Oct 20, mixal rated it really liked it Shelves: Really good book, and I have to say that it reminds me of Tribune of Rome even more than the first one.
I reduced one star in my rating because I rarely enjoy stories about early Christians, and this book covered some of the aspects that I do not enjoy. A good read, but I do prefer my historical intrigue on the Machiavellian level of mischief, not so much a soldier running around hunting xians and trying to protect his sister. I would like to read an Gaius Valerius Verrens 2. Seven further novels featuring Valerius have followed - the most recent being Glory of Rome - and have won critical acclaim and confirm their author as one of the UK's foremost historical novelists.
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There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later. Kindle Edition Verified Purchase. I really liked the first book "The Hero of Rome", well written, well done and really very interesting. Then I read few reviews about the second book described more as slow and a little bit boring. I would strongly disagree.
Actually, I liked the second book much more than the first one. I loved the idea of Valerius Verrens being forced by sleazy Nero to find Christos and his followers. I liked how Seneca was shown and the journey of finding Christos. The story is interesting, changing and very engaging. I think the writer was very successful in how he showed the changes in Roman citizens when they became Christians and what they life meant. The story is not only in Rome, but all around which makes it very successful and really great.