Praetorian (Roman Legion II) by Simon Scarrow

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Praetorian (Roman Legion II) by Simon Scarrow

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Category: Historical Fiction
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: Cato and Macro find themselves in Rome in this twelfth adventure of Simon Scarrow's incredibly popular Roman military series. Political conspiracies make an interesting change from the pair's usual battlefield escapades.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 368 Date: November 2011
Publisher: Headline
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 0755353773

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Still in hock to the imperial secretary Narcissus, Praetorian opens with our heroes Cato and Macro kicking their heels at the port of Ostia. They're about to embark on one of their most challenging adventures yet - as undercover spies in the Praetorian Guard. Rome in AD50 is full of perils. Imperial authority is now absolute and the Senate really only exists as an old boys club. The real power comes from being an adviser to the Emperor and, as these advisors jostle for influence, plots and conspiracies abound. Claudius, never in the best of health, looks precarious - but which of his heirs will succeed him? Nero? Or Britannicus? And can he hold on for long enough that the choice is clear?

But there is a more immediate threat. A shadowy republican organisation, the Liberators, is plotting an assassination attempt. And Narcissus wants Cato and Macro to infiltrate the Praetorian Guard and uncover the conspirators. At the same time, a huge consignment of freshly-minted silver bullion has gone missing and the grain supply has run short, leaving a starving mob with riot on its mind...

It makes a change to see this pair of veteran Roman soldiers actually in Rome. Cato and Macro are usually to be found in the provinces, on a battlefield. And it's a nice change. Scarrow paints a vivid picture of the poor and often desperate lives faced by Rome's million inhabitants. And as Cato remarks, the precarious grain supply means the city is only ever a meal or two away from chaos. And it's also interesting to see the way in which the neutering of an effective Senate has given rise to plotting and treachery and an imperial family whose members are never safe in their beds.

Fans of the series will enjoy Praetorian both for the setting and the intrigue. Fans of military fiction, in general, should probably start at the beginning, though.

I think we're heading back to Britain in book 13. Hooray! Much as I like Rome, Britain is my favourite.

You could also look at The Forgotten Legion by Ben Kane, the first in another popular series about the Roman military machine. Or you could change warrior type altogether and read about the Mongols in Lords of the Bow by Conn Iggulden.

Simon Scarrow's Roman Legion (Cato and Marco) (Eagles of the Empire) Books in Chronological Order

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Buy Praetorian (Roman Legion II) by Simon Scarrow at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Praetorian (Roman Legion II) by Simon Scarrow at


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