Scotland (1956 – )
aka James Douglas
Douglas Jackson is the author of the successful historical novels Caligula and Claudius and my next book Hero of Rome, the first of a new trilogy, will be published in July 2010. I was born in Jedburgh on the border between England and Scotland in the summer of 1956. It’s a place full of history and haunted by the ghosts of Border reivers and the victims of centuries of bloody border warfare. I left school three weeks before my 16th birthday with six O levels and no idea what I was going to do with the rest of my life. Luckily, a friend worked in the local employment office and got me a place on a youth work scheme. It turned out to be restoring a Roman marching camp in the Cheviot Hills and I had a wonderful summer turning turf and dreaming of Romans. Later I joined my local paper and for the next 36 years worked in local and national newspapers in Scotland, including the Daily Record and the Scotsman. I left the Scotsman after nine years as assistant editor in the summer of 2009 to become a full-time writer.
Scourge of Rome (2015)
(The sixth book in the Gaius Valerius Verrens series)
70AD: disgraced, dishonored, and banished into exile on pain of execution if he ever returns to Rome, the former military tribune Gaius Valerius Verrens makes his way East through the death and destruction of the savage Judaean rebellion. Valerius knows his only hope of long term survival and a restoration of his family’s fortunes lie with his friend Titus, commander of the Army of Judaea and son of the newly crowned Emperor Vespasian. But when he reaches the ring of legionary camps around the seemingly impregnable city of Jerusalem, he finds Titus a changed man. Gone is the cheerful young officer he knew, replaced by a tough, ruthless soldier under pressure from his father to end the insurrection at any cost. Soon, Valerius finds himself at the center of a web of intrigue spun by Titus’s lover, Queen Berenice of Cilicia, and her sometime ally, the general’s turncoat adviser, Flavius Josephus, who have an ulterior motive for ending the siege quickly. Yet the laurels that will regain his honor cannot be won in the negotiations in the murky tunnels beneath Jerusalem. Only amid the fire and blood of battle will he equal the glory that brought him the title Hero of Rome.
Douglas Jackson is quite simply a writer at the top of his game, his books are the complete package, filled with intrigue, action and adventure.But more than that they are filled with history, with heart and emotion and characters that will make you bleed and cry and love, characters that will involve you deeply in every aspect of their lives and drag you ever deeper into the bloody Roman world.
This series that started so triumphantly, and still holds one of the (IMHO) greatest scenes in historical fiction (the last stand at the temple) has become so much more than just an adventure following the seemingly indestructible Verrens. Integral to the story now is Serpentius, a man who is still as deadly as he ever was, but now more real, flawed, destructible. Both of them now are older, they are scarred beyond measure and yet they survive in a world where so many of their friends and comrades have gone to an early death, they survive as much by luck and brains as they do by brawn and skill.
Douglas Jackson challenges our hero’s to bring all of their luck and skill to the fore in surviving the wrath of Domitian who has grown in power since the taking of Rome, he may not have executed Verren’s but he is not beyond sending men after him, despite his agreement. Freedom, for the hand of Domitia Longina Corbulo, one forced upon him , read enemy of Rome. Its this uncertainty and intrigue that drives much of the early part of the book. Who is after them? some one must be and there are many potential names in the frame, staying alive is a war on its own, surviving to reach his friend Titus, paranoid that death awaits around any corner, hidden under any robe.
Along the way he (Verren’s) will find love, step into greater and greater danger and become embroiled in one of the bloodiest fights in Roman history, (with claims by Josephus that around 1.1 million people died), until ultimatly the great city of Jerusalem is ground to dust.
This has such a huge potential to be a dark dark story, but Douglas Jackson tells it with such passion and skill that while you feel the horror, the terror and the heat of battle, you also feel the passion of new love, and the enduring love of two friends who cling to each other come what may, tossed around like flotsam to the whims of the great and powerful and and the tide of history yet always striving for each other and honour first.
I truly love this series, its one of my all time favourite. Nothing to do with the period, all to do with the skill of the writing and the great characters.
I cannot recommend this highly enough
1. Caligula: The Tyranny of Rome (2008)
2. Claudius (2009)
1. Hero of Rome (2010)
2. Defender of Rome (2011)
3. Avenger of Rome (2012)
4. Sword of Rome (2013)
5. Enemy of rome (2014)
6. Scourge of Rome (2015)
War Games (2014)