Wounds of Honour is the first book in the Empire series by Anthony Riches.
The years is 181 AD and Marcus Valerius Aquila, an officer in the Praetorian Guards finds himself posted to the outer extremities of the Empire, Britain, for a reason he doesn’t learn until he gets there. The Emperor Commodus has declared that he and his family are traitors and have been condemned to death. The only way he can survive is to take up a new name and a new post as a centurion in a unit stationed on Hadrian’s Wall.
But nowhere is safe. There are enemies among the natives to both the north and south of the wall as well as hidden enemies in the Roman army itself, searching for the traitor. Marcus Tribulus Corvus, as he becomes known has to prove himself; to justify the risks others have taken, to stay alive and to keep as many of his unit’s men alive when the war comes.
Wounds of Honour is jam-packed full of accurate historical detail bringing the period in which it is set to life in a vivid, almost shocking, graphic – very Roman – way. The story was gripping, although I found the number of characters a little over-bearing at times as I struggled to recall who-was-who in terms of some of the previously mentioned minor characters. However this is hardly any criticism and such a minor issue did not detract from the enjoyment of the story at all.
The pace of the narrative seemed to pick up quite dramatically during the second half of the book. The dialogue and language was colourful and the interaction between the main characters flowed smoothly. Both the story and the people in it were engaging.
If you like action-packed stories or are a fan of ancient Roman fiction, especially military fiction, I recommend you give this read. I am looking forward to reading the next instalment in the series to see what lies in store for Marcus and his Tungrians.