Invader by Simon Scarrow and T J Andrews

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Invader by Simon Scarrow and T J Andrews

Category: Historical Fiction
Rating: 3/5
Reviewer: Sam Tyler
Reviewed by Sam Tyler
Summary: Britain is revolting and the Ancient Romans are doing their best to stop it. Join Optio Figulus in this grisly history book that has great action, but some pacing issues.
Buy? No Borrow? Maybe
Pages: 384 Date: January 2016
Publisher: Headline
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 9781472213693

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Modern technology gives a writer far more options on how to present their book. They are no longer bound by a yearly cycle of releasing a book in hardback and then waiting a few months for it to be released in paperback. The e-book gives you license to play with the format; how about a set of regular instalments? These segmented books worked for the likes of Charles Dickens, but pleasing a modern crowd used to quick thrills, as well as those used to the longer drawn out format, is not easy. Did Simon Scarrow and T J Andrews achieve their goals in the combined novel Invader?

Optio Figulus has been assigned to the backend of the Empire where it is wet, depressing and the locals are all mutinous. Basically, this means that the Britain of AD44 is the same as 2016! Figulus is tasked with aiding a puppet King to get his throne back as the leader of one of the most influential tribes. However, this being Blighty, there are Druids to look out for as well as hordes of unhappy locals ready for any excuse to give the Romans a good kicking.

As a fan of Roman fiction, I find that a lot of the books seem to follow a format and Scarrow is not averse to this. The books open up during some sort of skirmish or battle, you then have a story in the middle and the book ends in another larger conflict. The format works well as you get the grisly thrills at both ends, but also some narrative and characterisation at the centre. Invader is made up of five previously published e-books that make up the whole. In the ideal world a reader should not really know this, but you do.

The issues with the book lie with the pacing. Whilst a long format book has two battles and a deep middle; a five part book has more like ten battles and lots of short sharp attempts at a story. In Invader you feel that you are never more than ten pages away from another gruesome encounter. For the easily distracted reader this could be a good thing, but for anyone used to a little more story, they will not be as happy. When are numerous conflicts too much? This book shows that if you read battle after battle, they start to feel the same. Figulus comes across so many tribesmen that are described as the biggest he has ever seen that by the tenth battle he must have been fighting a veritable sea of Goliaths.

The usual Scarrow novel has a balance between action and day to day Roman life. The segments in Invader that do explore life in the army are interesting, but not as well developed as the Marco and Cato books. To some readers the fact that the action is turned up to eleven may be exactly what they want, the gruel almost drips from the page. However, for a truly great action book set in Roman times you require some time to build up the heart of the story, before then ripping it, still beating, from the chest cavity.

The fact that this is a book that is co-written between Scarrow and Andrews leads you to believe that it may not have had the full concentration of the more well-known author. Whether this is the case or not is moot, as the book is not up to the usual standard you would expect from Scarrow; a mere sideshow to his other more well thought through novels.

There are stronger books by Scarrow available. Try something from the main Marco and Cato series Centurion or for something different try Conn Iggulden's excellent Wars of the Roses: Stormbird.

Buy Invader by Simon Scarrow and T J Andrews at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Invader by Simon Scarrow and T J Andrews at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Invader by Simon Scarrow and T J Andrews at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Invader by Simon Scarrow and T J Andrews at Amazon.com.


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