Legion by Simon Scarrow

The LegionA review by Steve Cameron

The Legion: A renegade gladiator, Ajax, has taken to attacking naval bases and villages along the coast of Egypt. Disguising themselves as Romans, these rebels are fomenting anti-Roman sentiment. To make matters worse, Nubian armies are attacking Roman garrisons in the south. Acting Prefect Cato and Centurion Macro are hot on his trail. Not only battle strengthened warriors but best friends, they have a personal interest in putting an end to Ajax’s activities. But it appears the vengeful and crazed gladiator also has a personal interest in bringing the battle to these two Romans. And once Ajax joins forces with the Nubian army, life in Egypt suddenly becomes a whole lot more dangerous for Romans.

This is Scarrow’s tenth book in this best-selling series featuring Macro and Cato. Although not generally a reader of historical fiction, I enjoyed this publication as the battle strategies and fighting elements kept me interested. When so much fantasy is based on swordplay and scenarios such as this, often it’s really only the inclusion of magic that separates the two genres.

Obviously researched and rich with detail, the First Century Roman Empire and the Mediterranean are brought easily to life through the descriptive writing. Scarrow appears to have made a deliberate choice in tempering the archaic dialogue, as the speech is littered with modern language usage and phrasings. It didn’t take long to get used to this, however, and this choice ultimately makes for an easier read. From what I’ve been told, Scarrow’s previous books in this series are similar in style, narrative and setting – and readers of this series will know exactly what to expect.

Previously published in Dark Matter issue 4, July 2011.