Thursday 3 May 2018

A Discovering Diamonds review of Fire In The Year Of Four Emperors by Rick Deregon

AMAZON UK £2.28 £10.38
AMAZON US $3.18 $12.98
AMAZON CA $3.92 $16.28

Roman AD 68
Central/Northern Europe

Rokus – also known by his Roman name of Gaius Julius Civilus – is a prince of the Betuwe tribe and has just been released from prison following the death of Nero. Reinstated as a legionnaire and given a special mission, and accompanied by his friend Marius, he soon discovers that there is much at stake politically and he has many enemies.

This is an all-action tale and the author paints the scenery of  Central and Northern Europe convincingly. Rokus is a good, tough protagonist though not infallible. A detailed map is helpfully provided at the start of the book.

The Americanisms and anachronisms included may be a slight irritation to British readers, however. Words such as  'cinch' (to tighten, as in a belt), 'blocks' (as in distance between places in a town), 'jerky' (for dried meat - surely not called 'jerky' by German tribesmen in 68 AD?) 'butt' (bottom). I also came across fabric being described as the colour of butternut – a walnut type tree exclusive to the North Americas. So these jarred quite a bit, and stripped away the believability of the story, so possibly  this is one for US readers as the Americanisms will not be noticed, but for me they  do not sound right for Ancient Romans or Germanic tribesmen. Which is a shame, as the story itself is really quite good. 

If you can overcome these turns of phrase, then I'm sure you will enjoy this tale – maybe the author would consider a UK terminology edition for sale in the UK?

© Richard Tearle

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