Captain of Rome
The seas are the centre of the ever-increasing battles between the Romans and the Carthaginians, with this novel culminating in the largest naval battle of the ancient world.
Atticus, captain of the Aquila, has sailed into his fleet into a Carthaginian trap, his uneasiness with the situation overborne by the confident young senator he has been made to have on board. On shore, the Nine Legion, which includes in its ranks his friend and colleague, the legionary Septimus, is having an equally difficult time as the Roman force is ambushed by an overwhelming strength of Carthaginian cavalry.
Both of them escape with their lives but this bad reversal for the Roman fortunes has both political and military repercussions. The divisions in Roman are in fact paralleled by those in Carthage, but the battles intensify as both sides attempt to prevent supplies reaching each other and persuade smaller states to join their alliances.
Atticus is in the thick of it, involved in both battle and blockade, with deadly enemies among the politicians in Rome and a worrying breach in the friendship with Septimus.
John Stack is a powerful storyteller. His stirring, epic adventure throws new light on the story of Rome and the sea battles are magnificent.
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The strength of this second book lies in the historical setting of the war with Carthage, the development of the main character, the action scenes and the details of naval warfare during the period. This is somewhat offset by the sidetrack of rivalry of the two consuls, the complexities of the various ranks in Rome which neither add much to the plot or are sufficiently explained and the role of Varrus, the enemy of Atticus aimed at in drawing him in to the wider political context of the era without actually doing so. Perhaps all will become clear in the next book.