Monday, February 11, 2013

Book Review - Legionary: Viper of the North

Legionary- Viper of the North by Gordon Doherty

Viper of the North

Review by Jacqui Slaney

I really did not mean to mean to read this book, having read so many good Roman stories lately, I had wanted a longer break before returning to these series.
Unfortunately, I kept catching sight of this book 2 on my Kindle and having enjoyed the first so much, I gave in and had to read it.

The Danubian frontier is weaker than ever, and a storm is gathering in the north . . . Deep winter, 376 AD: Emperor Valens has withdrawn the field armies from Moesia and Thracia to fight in the Persian War. The impoverished limitanei legions left behind to defend the banks of the River Danubius are now all that stands between the war-hungry Goths and heart of the Eastern Roman Empire. For Numerius Vitellius Pavo and the men of the XI Claudia, the brief from Emperor Valens is simple: to avoid war with the Goths at all costs while the Roman defences are so weak. But in the frozen lands north of the Danubius, a dark legend, thought long dead, has risen again. The name is on the lips of every warrior in Gutthiuda; the one who will unite the tribes, the one whose armies will march upon the empire, the one who will bathe in Roman blood . . . The Viper!

This is a straight continuation from the first book, using the same characters of Pavo, Gallus and the rest.
As good as the first book is though, in this story you can clearly see the authors gained experience as the characters are more finished and the dialogue is more natural, which can be a hard trick to master.

This story is fast paced with different sub plots twisting through it, one of which is the intrigue about the Viper, is he is real, and if he is, who is he, as there are hints dropped that the Romans are being watched.  There are many clues to this is, and it can be worked out though the clues are subtle. There is a good hint of menace to this story with a shadowy puppet master pulling the strings of all the different peoples involved. There are also plot lines cleared up from Book 1 making clearer some of actions of the different characters and filling out their backgrounds.

The battle scenes are excellent, well described and bloody enough for anyone and this world of the Goths and Romans is made very real for the reader especially with the big scene at the end of the booking with the Danube crossing.

I really enjoyed this book, it is very easy to read and hard to put down. All the ends of the story are nicely pulled together with an opening for the next instalment, which I for one will be looking out for.

9 out of 10