Today's review is part of the Swords around the Throne blogtour! Make sure to read until the end of this post - there's a giveaway to win the book!
Rome is in peril. The old order is changing - and Centurion Aurelius Castus has been summoned back from Britain, to find himself caught up in a treasonous conspiracy threatening to bring down the Emperor Constantine.
Rewarding for saving the Emperor's life in battle, Castus is promoted to the Corps of Protectores, the elite imperial bodyguard. The swords around the throne.
But he soon discovers the court to be as dangerous as the battlefield; behind the gilded façade of empire, there are spiralling plots, betrayals and seductions. A nest of traitors. And one relentless enemy.
I want to start off this review by saying that I haven't read book one of this series, so obviously I can't talk about book one or the transition of the series. This review is solely about book two of the Twilight of Empire series.
Swords around the Throne takes place in the Roman Empire era, which is why I was so excited to read it. I enjoy everything Roman or Greek and love the perspective historical fiction can give me of the era. But historical fiction always begs for one very important question: how realistic is it? In this case, it is very realistic, mostly because of the elaborate descriptions in the book. As a reader, you find out what people are wearing, what they were doing, where they were living,.. It's incredibly easy to imagine yourself wandering around the Roman Empire with Castus.
But obviously setting isn't everything, even for historical fiction and Swords around the Throne delivers so much more than just a great world. The plot revolves around Castus and his navigation of the Roman political field. He starts off the book in the army and slowly works his way up until he's one of the main protectors of the emperor - only problem there is that "emperor" keeps switching between different people. Castus has to figure out his loyalties and he struggles with this, taking the reader along for the ride. There are constantly schemes that turn out different than you expected and you never really know who Castus can trust and who he can't. This got me involved with the story and the main character - I felt bad for Castus that he had to navigate this difficult world and I just wanted him to be happy.
Happiness at some point seems to come clearly from a woman, but hold your collective sigh, the love storyline doesn't play out as you expect it to. Even with the love interest, Castus can never be sure what is happening and at some point she's sorta, kinda, maybe (I don't want to spoil it!) involved in the biggest scheme of all. It involves betrayal, love, sex and fighting - basically like any good Roman scheme.
The only downside of the book for me were all the fighting scenes. Now I know the title is a dead giveaway of that, but fighting scenes just really aren't my thing. Especially in part one there seemed to be a whole lot of fighting and not a lot of story. Luckily, the political intrigues become more prominent as the story goes on, but the elaborate fighting scenes still ruined my reading flow. I just wasn't interested and didn't need so many details about how one man kills another.
So overall I give this book a 3.5 out of 5 stars. I really grew to enjoy the book the more I read of it. Probably because I didn't read book 1, I just wasn't that invested in the characters in the beginning and all the fighting they had to do. However, the plot really picks up about 25% in and towards the end I couldn't put it down. Swords around the Throne is a great read for anyone who loves historical fiction combined with action.
Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/Swords-Around-Throne-Twilight-Empire-ebook/dp/B00R4PUDWE/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1434645384&sr=8-2&keywords=swords+around+the+throne&pebp=1434645382291&perid=058ADB6YSNGVHE8THZG5