War At The Edge Of The World by Ian Ross – An Audio Book Review

War at the edge

Blurb:

Once a soldier in an elite legion from the Danube, Aurelius Castus believes his glory days are over, stuck in Britain’s provincial backwater. But history is about to take a hand, and when the king of the Picts, the savage people beyond Hadrian’s Wall, dies in mysterious circumstances, Castus is selected to command the bodyguard of a Roman envoy sent to negotiate with the barbarians. But the diplomatic mission ends in bloody tragedy…

Author: Ian Ross

Narrator: Jonathan Keeble

Running Time: 12hrs 36mins

Publisher: Lamplight Audio

Series: Twilight of Empire #1

Audio Release Date: 05/02/2015

My Rating of ‘War At The End Of The World’: 4 out of 5

Purchase: Audible UKAudible USAmazon UKAmazon US

Review:

War At The End Of The World is a solid start to what I imagine will be a very solid historical fiction series. It follows Aurelius Castus, Centurion of Rome, as he and his century are tasked with overseeing the crowning of a new Pict king after the previous king died under mysterious circumstances.

What follows is a great look into the edge of the Roman world and the dangers that lurk within the barbaric reaches of Northern Britain. For the romans of Britain, they have been away from their home land for a long period and have had to endure life so close to these savages known as Picts. For Castus’ men, long removed from any fighting during their time in Britain, many of them thirst for a battle and would love nothing more than to come home with a few Pict heads mounted upon their spears. There is also the emissary Castus is sent to protect and the heathen Christian faith the man adheres to.

For a simple soldier like Castus (the man really is a blunt object with room between the ears for little other than fighting, duty and honouring his emperor) the above distractions are all unwelcome and most unwanted.

The writing in War At The End Of The World is strong. It’s the sort of no-nonsense writing, with little to no flamboyant turns of phrase, that you can imagine a stoic soldier of Rome appreciating. It’s the kind of writing that suits the bleak, miserable land that was Britain in the early fourth century where nothing is beautiful and all is mysterious and, in the eyes of the wary soldiers stationed there, best left alone.

Castus’ story is one of constant conflict, whether that be conflict with the enemy or the more unknown conflicts of those he trusts. With people he respects on both sides of the war doing their best to lead him astray, he’s constantly questioning himself and the actions he must take to maintain his own honour.

My main gripe with War At The End Of The World is that there is so much going on outside of Castus’ story, but we just do not get to see any of it until Castus comes through. The only POV we get is Castus and I feel this is somewhat of a detriment. This was a time of political backstabbing within the hierarchy of Rome (on the frontier of Britain especially) and we saw none of it except for as it was happening in its latter stages through the eyes of Castus as an onlooker. The same could be said for the Picts. With all that surrounds the death of their king and the jockeying for power within the Pict forces, there was ample fuel for a good sub-plot.

I just feel this book would have given so much more to the reader if we were allowed to experience the happenings through other character’s eyes.

That being said, it was still an enjoyable book and I absolutely sped trough it. I look forward to seeing where Rome’s wars next take Castus.

Jonathan Keeble, as I well imagined he would, performed this beautifully. I heard him narrating the first ‘Gotrek and Felix’ novel and have decided that, anything that man reads in the future is going to be high on my audio wish list. He has a voice that was made to read dark, brutal works and I hope he continues to do so for many years to come.

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