Comfortably formulaic saga of Rome’s military might continues with epic characters who tread the breadth of Europe for honor.
Gibbins continues with a return to Carthage 600 years after the events of his first novel in the series (Total War Rome: Destroy Carthage, 2013). Rome is no longer the war machine it was when its famed legions conquered the world. Now it's on the defense, and barbarians are most definitely at the gate. The Vandals have taken Carthage after a futile stand by a handful of Roman soldiers, and the Huns are coming from the north to dismantle the divided empire. Gibbins relies once again on a handful of characters teaching and training at the schola militarum in Rome to anchor the narrative. Arturus, a British warrior-monk, shows up to assist Flavius, one of the elite whose heritage is Roman and Goth, and Macrobius, his faithful centurion. They make their way to Attila’s court north of the Danube, where an unusual proposition is made on behalf of Aetius, the last remaining great Roman general. “I come to you not with offers of concessions, but with an offer of war. It may not be this year, or next year, but it will be soon, at a place of your choosing.” However, this time around there are mythic characters in the mix of intrigue and powerful battle scenes. Arturus is, yes, the Arthur we know in legend, the once and future king, and his love interest turns out to be the daughter of Attila. That is mythmaking on a new level.
Although much of the plot is just too convenient, Gibbins does know his history, and the novel rings true with the sounds of hand-to-hand combat.