Book review: War at the Edge of the World

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Author Ian James Ross encapsulates what it was like in later Rome as a Roman soldier in his new book War at the Edge of the World.

This historical fiction novel follows a Roman soldier, Castus, as he rises through the ranks in the Roman Legion and is sent on what seems like a simple peace mission to the Barbaric land North of the empire. However, the mission quickly falls apart and with nothing what it seems, Castus soon must fight for his life, his rank, and his empire.

Ross is able to effectively give the reader the sensation that they are there in the Rome Empire. That they are Castus. He takes a character, who on the surface seems like an extraordinarily simple soldier, and builds him into this hero that one cannot help but root for. Ross does an amazing job at connecting the reader to the characters. I found myself feeling the frustration, pity, sadness, and confusion that Castus feels through out the story. The reader does not have greater insight into what is going on than Castus does, so as events unfold you piece things together to see the greater picture as he does. This only draws the reader into the book more, urging them to read one more chapter.

While the story seems to start out slow, Ross is successful in building the tension until it explodes into chaotic action – only to then let the tension build back up. Then when the tension finally does explode into battle, you feel the rush as if you are right there with your Roman shield, in the ranks, in the wedge as the Legion battles the Barbaric people of the North. The bloody details and descriptions of battles really highlight the brutality of war in those days.

As a man who studied and wrote about the later Roman empire for over a decade, Ross provides extraordinarily amounts of detail in the day to day life of a Roman soldier in that time. Be it details of the Roman Britannia countryside or the inner workings of the Roman Legion and government, Ross seems to be able to describe it with ease. Even though I found myself getting a little lost in the different terms, ranks, and titles used throughout the book, it still quickly became a pager turner and I could not put it down. Although prior knowledge of the later Roman Empire may be helpful, it is certainly not required.

War at the Edge of the World is an excellent book for those who are fascinated by the Roman Empire or those who just like a good old fashion war story. Ross wraps mystery, action, myth, and deceit into one pager turner of a book. Definitely a must read!

War at the Edge of the World by Ian James Ross is available now on Amazon.

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