‘We are the watchmen; the keepers of the flame.’ Britannia in the late fourth century is a wild, dark place and the Pax Romana that has held for three hundred years is crumbling. Justinus Coelius is commander of the Wall and he is facing invasion from Saxons and treachery from within. Leocadius Honorius is consul of Londinium, but his fragile grasp on his lifestyle is brok‘We are the watchmen; the keepers of the flame.’ Britannia in the late fourth century is a wild, dark place and the Pax Romana that has held for three hundred years is crumbling. Justinus Coelius is commander of the Wall and he is facing invasion from Saxons and treachery from within. Leocadius Honorius is consul of Londinium, but his fragile grasp on his lifestyle is broken when he plays dice with the wrong people. Vitalis Celatius just wants a quiet, peaceful life but his sister Conchessa is desperate to find her husband who has fallen foul of the Emperor. And the Emperor is about to face a challenge from Magnus Maximus, the general who takes Britannia’s legions to overthrow him. Celtic legend, Egyptian mysticism and Gaelic battle-fury are all interwoven in this dark tale.The surviving Heroes of the Wall are once again thrown into the melting pot of history. How many of them will still be standing at the end?...
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The Watchmen Reviews
Rousing action/adventure novel, sequel to the authors' The Wall, a nail-biter all the way, with unexpected plot points. This tells of the further lives of the three surviving "Heroes of the Wall": Leocadius, Vitalis, and Justinus, and the rise and fall of the imperial usurper Magnus Maximus. It begins a few years after the Barbarian Conspiracy. The womanizer and gambler Leocadius, now Consul [Mayor] of Londinium, is murdered and thrown into the Thamesis, or is the body his? Vitalis goes with his sister to Gaul--Augusta Treverorum [today's Trier]--to search for her husband, the Decurion Calpurnius, who has mysteriously disappeared. Justinus, the Commander of the Wall, fights bloodthirsty tribes--some from Hibernia [Scotti, Attacotti], and Picts [Painted People] as well as Saxons. He and the queen of the Votadini fight to regain control of her fortress, Din Paladyr, from the tribesman who had engineered a successful coup. Magnus Maximus also fights hostile tribes and then travels to Gaul to face Emperor Gratian in an exciting showdown.I enjoyed the battle and skirmish sequences, of which there were many. The arena sequence in Augusta Treverorum was one of the best I've read. Although gladiatorial games had been outlawed officially by the Christian government, such things were winked at and went on in the provinces. I got a good feeling for the era. At this point, I don't see how there can be another sequel to the novel, but....Highly recommended.
I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.An impressive followup volume to The Wall. True to the first book, Roman Britain is expertly portrayed with historical accuracy and detailed descriptions and characterization. I will await volume 3 eagerly.
The Watchmen is the second book in the Britannia series by Richard Denham and M.J. Trow. I read and reviewed the first book in the series, The Wall. I liked that book; this one was more entertaining.The Wall began in AD 367 in Roman Britannia, modern day England. The Watchmen is set years later and the four so-called ‘Heroes of the Wall’ are living very different lives from their earlier roles in the Roman Army. Leocadius, once a bragging and womanizing pedes or foot soldier, is now a leader in civilian life, the council of Londinium (London), with a cold wife and a warm mistress, Honoria. The beautiful Honoria runs an upper class brothel and has a child, Scipio, with Leocadius. Vitalis, also once a foot soldier, has become a Christian and now lives in a rough house by the Thames, where he weaves baskets for sale from the river grasses. Justinus, once a 30 year old non-commissioned officer of the cavalry, is now Commander of Hadrian’s Wall, tasked with protecting Britannia from invaders from the wild lands north of the Wall. Paternus, a semisallis (a rank above pedes) had lost his family in the earlier book and had made a political marriage with Brenna, female leader of the Voltadini, to tie her people to Rome. They’d fallen in love and had a child together, but Paternus had died five years before the story begins. Justinus is in love with Brenna and committed to overseeing the development and education of her two boys, one from an earlier marriage and the one fathered by Paternus. Around these characters the book swirls, moving swiftly from one to the other, leaving the reader with multiple cliffhangers.The figure tying the separate story lines together is Magnus Maximus, commander of the Roman Army in Britannia. He declares himself Caesar, a challenger to the throne of Gratian, Emperor of the western Roman Empire. Gratian shares the throne with his brother Valentinian II, Emperor of the eastern half of the Roman Empire. At the beginning of the book, Maximus is demanding and winning allegiance from the various native tribes in Britannia, as their Caesar.Leocadius is mired in the politics of Londinium and saddled with a grasping wife. He plays dice for his life. Vitalis wants a peaceful life but has to rejoin the military to help his sister Conchessa find her husband, who defrauded Valentinian and is missing. Justinus is facing a massive incursion of invaders determined to kill everything and everyone in their way and has to work with Maximus and the tribes allied with him to stop them. Each of their stories winds through the book like ribbons on a maypole, detailed with Celtic legend, Egyptian mysticism and tribal battle-fury. How many of the remaining three Heroes of the Wall will survive?I only have two negative comments: first, the story of Maximus’ campaign against Gratian is given short shrift - in itself, it could have been another volume; second, there were places where the characters use very contemporary expressions, which was a little jarring. I appreciated the glossary at the end of the book for Roman terms with which I wasn’t familiar, and the map showing sites from the narrative.I fully admit I am not an historian and perhaps some who are might quibble. But as a general reader, I recommend this book for anyone who enjoys historical fiction and Roman history. Where I felt the first book in the series would appeal mainly to men, this book has a broader appeal. I’m hoping to see a third book soon.
Britannia Part II: The Watchmen is the second book in this historical fiction series set around Roman Britain in the late 4th Century. Magnus Maximus is the Military officer commanding Britain - the Dux Britannorum. Power seeking he is gaining support from the legions and calling himself Caesar of Britannia. He's causing political uproar too by marching on London and demanding the support of the Vicarius, the Governor of the province.The four heroes of The Wall (Hadrian's Wall) from the last book have moved on, one has died, Justinus is now Commander of The Wall, keeping the rebels such as the Picti from advancing. Vitalis turned away from his army roots and is a basket seller in London and Leocadius has slept his way into the political role of Consul in London.This book follows these main characters in the next chapter of their lives. Maximus wants to gain the support of all of Britannia and then head off to over throw the Emperor Gratian. Vitalis's sister comes from Gaul to ask him help her find her husband who has disappeared. Leocadius finds that politics is not his thing and Justinas faces rebels with a strong Saxon backing.There's plenty of action as well as insight into the likely political twists which would have gone on all over the Roman empire in real life. Power hungry men, fighting men and those just trying to survive as best they can. I enjoyed reading how a Roman army wielded itself in battle as well as learning about the local tribes of Britain and their traditions and beliefs. There is a useful glossary of place names and Roman terms, plus a map of Britannia showing many of the main areas from the book. As I read the paperback version this was really useful to be able to flip to these pages.
This is the second in a trilogy of novels set in late Roman Britain. Having got to know the various characters in the first novel , I was immediately engaged by the second book which ranges in location from north of Hadrian’s Wall to Augusta Treverorum (Trier), the then ‘capital’ of the Western Empire. I was pleased to see Magnus Maximus (Macsen Wledig) featuring so prominently, and that he was joined by 'Elen of the armies', a powerful female character. The remaining ‘Heroes’ of the Wall, Justinus, Vitalis and Leocadius, are the main characters however, and in this book we see them develop. But, once again, I found the motivation of Leocadius difficult to grasp. He is clearly a complex individual. I also didn’t entirely take to the other major female character, Conchessa, Vitalis’ sister, who seemed more of a plot device than a real woman. But these criticisms are minor ones and on the whole I really liked this book. As with the first novel, The Watchmen is a real page turner, the tension heightened by the jumping in and out of location and point of view in the middle of the action. This might irritate some but I felt it worked well, although I was a little put off by the frequent within-scene changes of point of view (as in the first book). The novel, unlike the first, is provided with a map (hand-drawn) and a glossary, but this didn’t help me understand the various unfamiliar terms and I would have welcomed some additional background notes. I was left wondering what was going to happen next and so immediately bought the next and final novel in the series.
I won this as a Goodreads Giveaway.thank you so much for the author who given me this book. I'll read and review ASAP!!once again, thank you so much!!
Well researchedAnother excellent read in this series. The characters are vividly portrayed and feel sorry when they die. Can't wait for the next book in this series.