Vindolanda by Adrian Goldsworthy

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Vindolanda by Adrian Goldsworthy

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Category: Historical Fiction
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Amy Etherington
Reviewed by Amy Etherington
Summary: A tale of Roman Britain full of epic battles and bloodshed. Fans of Adrian Goldsworthy's work I'm sure will enjoy this, although the story is dragged down by some weak characterisation.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 416 Date: June 2017
Publisher: Head of Zeus
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1784974688

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AD 98: in the northern fields of Britannia lies Vindolanda, a Roman auxiliary base situated on the edge of the Roman world. Far from the prosperity and decadence of Rome, the wild and untamed lands around Vindolanda are ripe with rebel tribes and druids set against the destruction of Rome and its armies. In the midst of this destruction is Flavius Ferox; a Briton and Roman Centurion who has been given the task of keeping the peace in this desolate edge of the world. But life in Roman Britain is full of danger and betrayal at every turn, and Ferox knows it will take more than courage to overcome what lies ahead.

The concept of Vindolanda is brilliant and as a lover of Roman history and novels set in Roman Britain, I was particularly excited to pick this one up. There's plenty of action, atmosphere, and brutality at the centre of the story and leading you through it is troubled Centurion Flavius Ferox, who clearly has something of a rocky past but is nonetheless bound by oath to serve Rome and the new emperor Trajan. As a character and central narrator, I liked Ferox and his harsh exterior which showed a hint of softness underneath. Adrian Goldsworthy is a historian with a number of historical novels under his belt, and although this is the first of his books I've read I can tell that he's an accomplished writer. His style is knowledgeable without coming across as too academic, and if you're a fan of history then you won't mind all the technical military words and phrases throughout the novel.

Although the premise and initial execution were at first compelling, there were a few things that bothered me about the story. The overall arc of the plot is fairly simple, with Ferox in the midst of rebel attacks and being swept in to battle all while trying to figure out whether a Roman is in fact behind it all. Yet, I found I was confused for the most part. Many of the characters felt virtually interchangeable, meaning that I struggled to remember who was who, which I think sadly fell to the weak characterisation. Ferox as a main protagonist possessed a certain complexity, but many of the other characters never really came to life for me. Ferox's love interest, Sulpicia Lepidina, was beautiful and alluring certainly, but their relationship had little to go on and for me it lacked depth.

This book has no shortage of epic battle sequences and is a rich fictitious account of life in First Century Roman Britain. It just lacked an overall polish in its characterisation, and if that could have been as good as the research that Goldsworthy clearly put in to writing this story, then I'm sure I would have enjoyed it a little more than I did. If you have enjoyed Adrian Goldsworthy's previous novels then this will be something you will most definitely look out for. Thank you to the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.

For another tale set in the Roman period, I recommend The Forgotten Legion by Ben Kane.

Buy Vindolanda by Adrian Goldsworthy at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Vindolanda by Adrian Goldsworthy at

Buy Vindolanda by Adrian Goldsworthy at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Vindolanda by Adrian Goldsworthy at


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