This, I think, is one of those not-very-wonderful books that still manages to be rather entertaining. It is in dire need of a thorough edit (there are opaque sentences, repetitious/inelegant phrases and typos to contend with) and, furthermore, the author has a slightly odd command of swearing. It is as if he is unaccustomed to using profanity and employs naughty words in this text with the coy clumsiness of a blushing adolescent. The book is also crucially deficient in sex! Sexual scenes are alluded to, but there is a disappointing lack of detail! This jars when you consider the personality of the main character. And really, in a lightweight historical romp (if I can use the r-word!), occasional steaminess is kind of a requirement!
Those criticisms notwithstanding, there are certainly good points to this book. Whilst some people don’t like a modern mode of speech in historical fiction, I think it always works much better than cod historical dialogue. This book doesn’t bother with any of that faux-archaic stuff. Plus, I very much took to the main character/narrator and enjoyed his company along the way of the story. The other characters too came to life quite well. I enjoyed the lighthearted tone of the book (ponderous historical fiction = a pompous annoyance). And I felt the uncertain, ‘interesting times’ of the setting, and the rough justice of the ancient world, came across tangibly – and without the free ancient history lecture that you often get in historical novels.
So, on balance, I enjoyed reading this book. Great literature it ain’t, and it has plenty of clumsy moments. But it lacks many of the common annoyances of historical fiction and will pass the time admirably if you approach it with an uncomplaining, uncritical eye!
Reviewed on Amazon, 26th February 2012
© 2015, richardblake.
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