"When silver from the Emperor’s mines goes missing, Roman Imperial Investigator Quintus Valerius returns to Britannia. The province where his brother died in front of him, and his career in the Praetorian Guard abruptly ended. It is one of the last places in the Empire the investigator wishes to be posted. With his assistant Tiro, a native Briton, Valerius uncovers a conspiracy of fraud and rebellion. The plot involves a resurgence in Druid activity — and potential witnesses are murdered.
Trust is a commodity that’s scarcer than silver. Even the investigator’s former lover, Lady Julia, seems connected to the crimes.
Valerius begins to piece together clues that reveal a shocking truth — and cast a terrible light on his own past.
The two soldiers now have a frantic race across country with a handful of allies, in a final battle to prevent the loss of more than just silver.
The fate of Britannia is at stake."
This is a debut novel, most excellently researched and one which should satisfy readers who enjoy a compelling historical novel with a complex protagonist who has personal obstacles to overcome, along with a task that rapidly spirals into something more than the poor guy bargained for. Maybe Quintus Valerius is not necessarily the stoic, stiff-upper-lipped Roman that we usually tend to think of, but this was why I liked him. He seemed believable and human.
Most of the other characters were also interesting - the women as well as the men, the good guys and the bad guys, although perhaps there were some stereotypical characters, and one or two coincidences included to move the plot along? But isn't that the nature of fiction? And I must be honest, the stereotypes did not bother me at all, nor spoil any of the entertainment that Ms Rogers has created. Had this been a Regency Romance, these inclusions would, in fact, have almost been expected.
There is some chopping about where location and plot is concerned, and the mystery element does drift a little in places, so a more in-depth technical edit would have been of benefit to tidy up those few cliched holes and some of the dialogue - common new-writer errors - but this was an enjoyable read and Ms Rogers shows promise for future books in this series, so worth a read and an author to watch I think.
Reviewed for Discovering Diamonds
© Anne Holt