Anthony Riches: Onslaught (The second book in the Centurions series) Review.

Anthony Riches

Anthony Riches

began his lifelong interest in war and soldiers when he first heard his father’s stories about World War II. This led to a degree in Military Studies at Manchester University. He began writing the story that would become Wounds of Honour after a visit to Housesteads in 1996. He lives in Hertfordshire with his wife and three children

 

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Onslaught (2017)
(The second book in the Centurions series)

 

book cover of Onslaught

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The Rhine frontier has exploded into all-out war. The Batavi cohorts, so recently proud soldiers of Rome, have returned to their homeland, summoned by their new leader Kivilaz: they will be the spearhead of an audacious assault on Roman power.

Humbled by the rebels in a battle they should have won, the Romans retreat to their northern stronghold, the Old Camp, to lick their wounds. The 5th and 15th Legions grimly prepare to defend an undermanned fortress against both the Batavi and thousands of barbarian warriors intoxicated by a charismatic priestess’s vision of their victory.

Four centurions who once fought in the same army find themselves on opposite sides of a vicious civil war. For the Batavi, the prize could be freedom from Roman rule. For the Romans, the choices are victory or the most humiliating defeat their empire has ever known. And for one Batavi soldier, the greatest prize is simply survival in a battle with a cornered, desperate enemy.

Review:

Onslaught is Anthony Riches second book in his new Centurion series, for fans of his work, this series is a diversion from the insanely entertaining exploits of Marcus Aquila and the Tungrians in the Empire series.

Onslaught, like its predecessor Betrayal follow the hugely unsettled period of the Roman Empire when Emperors were two an penny and changed hands at the drop of a few legions being slaughtered. The latest book taking us to the point where Vitellius is now upon the throne, albeit perched on the edge and in no way feeling comfortable, because Titus Flavius Vespasianus has been acclaimed Emperor in the east, his legions are on the march, and his men are in true Roman fashion, double dealing and scheming across the empire. No one wants to be seen to support the wrong man. leaving the many men of the legions to bear the brunt and pay the bloody price of all the political maneuvering.

Taking advantage of all of this is Prince Kivilaz of the Batavi, under the aegis of insults to the tribe and ensuring the tribes future he has taken the fight to rebellion and attacked Rome via her encampments.

This rich backdrop of politics and battle is prime fodder for a writer of the skill and wit of Anthony Riches and one he exploits to the fullest. As you can expect (if you are a regular reader of his work) his characters explode to life as the story unfolds, keeping the reader fully engaged as the plot switches from Roman to Batavi perspective leaving you unsure who is the good guy and who is the bad, where should your reader loyalties sit?

This book and series explores deeper than just the camaraderie of the soldier and their deep ties to each other and their officers, it looks to the limits that a legion can be pushed or will accept and the limits a man can endure before his will finally breaks and he can fight no more. Interspersed as always with laugh out loud moments and the inevitable gallows humour of the men destined to die a bloody death very soon, and the more reflective moments of family, and friends and their loss, this is a book that spans not only events and people but also emotions. Antony Riches is now the undisputed master at this style of book, giving the reader a tale where no character is safe, no pages should be read unprepared because he can change pace or fully unfold some Machiavellian plot device at any moment. The ending of this book leaves me feeling that he has many such plots up his sleeve… and that the final book, Retribution will be a corker.

Onslaught is another fantastic new book in a series that is as Brutal and uncompromising as an enraged first spear, and should not be missed.

(Parm)

Series
Empire 
1. Wounds of Honour (2009)
2. Arrows of Fury (2010)
3. Fortress of Spears (2011)
4. The Leopard Sword (2012)
5. The Wolf’s Gold (2012)
6. The Eagle’s Vengeance (2013)
7. The Emperor’s Knives (2014)
8.Thunder of the Gods (2015)
9. Altar of Blood (2016)
The Empire Collection Books I-3 (omnibus) (2017)
The Empire Collection Books 4-6 (omnibus) (2017)
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Centurions 
1. Betrayal (2017)
2. Onslaught (2017)
3. Retribution (2018)
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Filed under Anthony Riches, Historical Fiction

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