Simon Scarrow's brilliant adventure novels about the Roman army appear with stunning new covers.It is 42 AD, and Quintus Licinius Cato has just arrived in Germany as a new recruit to the Second Legion, the toughest in the Roman army. If adjusting to the rigours of military life isn't difficult enough for the bookish young man, he also has to contend with the disgust of his colleagues when, because of his imperial connections, he is appointed a rank above them. As second-in-command to Macro, the fearless, battle-scarred centurion who leads them, Cato will have more to prove than most in the adventures that lie ahead. Then the men discover that the army's next campaign will take them to a land of unparalleled barbarity - Britain. After the long march west, Cato and Macro undertake a special mission that will thrust them headlong into a conspiracy that threatens to topple the Emperor himself...
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Simon Scarrow is a former teacher who now devotes himself to writing full time. He lives outside Norwich with his family.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
Chapter One An icy blast of wind swept into the latrine with the sentry.
‘Wagon’s approaching, sir!’
‘Shut the bloody door! Anything else?’
‘Small column of men.’
‘Hardly.’ The sentry grimaced. ‘Unless there’s been some change in marching drill.’
The duty centurion glanced up sharply. ‘I don’t recall asking for an opinion on policy, soldier.’
‘No, sir!’ The sentry snapped to attention under the glare of his superior. Only a few months earlier Lucius Cornelius Macro had been an optio and was still finding promotion to the centurionate hard to handle. His former comrades in the ranks were still inclined to treat him as an equal. It was hard to register a respectful attitude to one who so recently had been seen emptying his guts of a skinful of cheap wine. But, for some months before the promotion, Macro had been aware that senior officers were considering him for the first available vacancy in the centurionate and had done his best to keep indiscretions to a minimum. For, when all his qualities were placed in the balance, Macro was a good soldier – when good soldiering was required – conscientious in his duties, reliably obedient to orders and he could be counted on to hold firm in a fight and inspire others to do the same.
Macro suddenly realised that he had been gazing at the sentry for a while and that the legionary was shifting uncomfortably under his scrutiny, as one tends to in front of a silently staring superior. And officers could be such unpredictable bastards, the sentry thought nervously, first whiff of power and they either don’t know what to do with it, or they insist on giving bloody-minded and stupid orders.
‘What are your orders, sir?’
‘Orders?’ Macro frowned for a moment. ‘All right then. I’ll come. You get back to the gate.’
‘Yes, sir.’ The sentry turned and hurriedly made his way out of the junior officers’ latrine block, pulling the door to as the half-dozen centurions glared after him. It was an unwritten rule that no-one, but no-one, permitted their men to interrupt proceedings in the latrine. Macro applied the sponge stick, pulled up his breeches and apologised to the other centurions before hurrying outside.
It was a filthy night and a cold northerly wind was blowing the rain down from the German forests. It swept across the Rhine, over the fortress walls and was funnelled into icy blasts between the barrack blocks. Macro suspected that he was keenly disapproved of by his new-found peers and was determined to prove them wrong. Not that this resolution was working out terribly successfully. The administrative duties relating to the command of eighty men were proving to be a nightmare – ration-collection details, latrine rotas, sentry rotas, weapons inspections, barrack inspections, punishment ledgers, equipment procurement chits, arranging fodder for the section mules, taking charge of pay, savings and the funeral club.
The only help available for carrying out these duties came in the form of the century’s clerk, a wizened old cove named Piso, who Macro suspected of being dishonest or simply incompetent. Macro had no way of finding out for himself, because he was all but illiterate. Brought up with only the most rudimentary knowledge of letters and numbers he could recognise most individually, but more than that was impossible. And now he was a centurion, a rank for whom literacy was a prerequisite. Doubtless the legate had naturally assumed Macro could read and write when he approved the appointment. If it came to light that he was no more literate than a Campanian farm boy, Macro knew he would be demoted at once. So far he had managed to get round the problem by delegating the paperwork to Piso and claiming that his other duties were keeping him too busy, but he was sure that the clerk had begun to suspect the truth. He shook his head as he trudged over to the fortress gate, pulling his red cloak tightly about him.
It was a dark night, made darker by the low clouds that completely obscured the sky; a sure sign that snow was on the way. From the gloom about him, Macro could hear a variety of sounds typical of the fortress existence that had been part of his life for over twelve years now. Mules brayed from stables at the far end of each barrack block and the voices of soldiers, talking and shouting, drifted out through the wavering light of candlelit windows. A bellow of laughter peeled out of a barrack block he was passing, followed by a lighter, female laugh. Macro halted mid-stride and listened. Someone had managed to sneak a woman into the base. The woman laughed again and then began speaking in thickly accented Latin and was quickly hushed by her companion. This was a flagrant breach of regulations and Macro abruptly turned towards the block and laid his hand on the latch. Then paused, thinking. By rights he should burst in, loudly bellowing in parade-ground fashion, send the soldier to the guard-house, and have the woman thrown out of the base. But that meant completing an entry in the punishment book – more bloody writing.
Gritting his teeth, Macro released his grip and quietly stepped back into the street, just as the woman let out a shriek of laughter to prick his conscience. A quick glance about to make sure that no-one else was there to witness his failure to act and Macro hurried on towards the south gate. Bloody soldier deserved a good kicking, and if he had been in Macro’s century that’s how he’d have been dealt with; no paperwork needed, just a swift kick in the balls to ensure the punishment fitted the crime. Still, from her voice she could only have been one of those nasty German tarts from the native settlement that sprawled just outside the base. Macro consoled himself with the thought of the legionary concerned coming down with a bad dose of the clap.
Although the streets were dark, Macro moved instinctively in the right direction since no legionary base deviated from the standard design used in all camps and fortresses. In a matter of minutes, he had emerged on to the wider thoroughfare of the Via Praetoria and marched towards the gate where the street passed through the walls to the south of the base. The sentry who had interrupted Macro at the latrine was waiting at the foot of the stairs. He led the way into the gatehouse and up the narrow wooden staircase to the battlement level, where a lit brazier cast a warm red glow around the sentry room. Four legionaries were squatting close to the fire playing dice. As soon as they saw the centurion’s head appear above the stairs they stood to attention.
‘Easy lads,’ Macro said. ‘Carry on.’
The wooden door to the battlements sprang inwards with the wind as Macro lifted the latch and the brazier blazed momentarily as he stepped outside and slammed the door to. Up on the sentry walk the wind was biting and whipped Macro’s cloak behind him, tugging at the clasp on his left shoulder. He shuddered and snatched it back, holding it tightly about his body.
The sentry peered out through the crenellations into the darkness and pointed his javelin at a tiny flickering light swinging from the back of a wagon approaching from the south. Straining his eyes as he stared into the wind, Macro could make out the outline of the wagon and, behind it, a body of men plodding along the track. At the rear of the column came the more orderly progress of the escort whose job was to stop the stragglers slowing the pace. Maybe two hundred men in all.
‘Shall I call out the guard, sir?’
Macro turned towards the sentry. ‘What did you say?’
‘Shall I call out the guard, sir?’
Macro eyed the man wearily. Syrus was one of the youngest men in the century and, although Macro had learned the names of most of his command, he knew little of their characters or histories as yet. ‘Been in the army long?’
‘No, sir. Only a year in December.’
Not long out of training then, Macro thought. A stickler for regulations, which he no doubt applied in every circumstance. He’d learn in time; how to compromise between following strict procedure and doing what was needed to get by.
‘So then, why do we need to call out the guard?’
‘Regulations, sir. If an unidentified body of men is approaching the camp in force the guard century should be called out to man the gate and adjacent walls.’
Macro raised his eyebrows in surprise. The quotation was word perfect. Syrus clearly took his training seriously. ‘And what then?’
‘What happens next?’
‘The duty centurion, after assessing the situation determines whether or not to call a general alarm,’ Syrus continued tonelessly, then hurriedly added, ‘Sir.”
‘Good man.’ Macro smiled and the sentry smiled back in relief, before Macro turned back towards the approaching column. ‘Now then, exactly how threatening do you think that lot is? Do they scare you, soldier? Do you think all two hundred of them are going to charge over here, climb the walls and slaughter every mother’s son of the Second Legion . . . Well, do you?’
The sentry looked at Macro, looked carefully at the flickering lights for a new moments and then turned back sheepishly. ‘I don’t think so.’
‘I don’t think so, sir,’ said Macro gruffly as he punched the lad on the shoulder.
‘Tell me, Syrus. Did you attend the sentry briefing before the watch?’
‘Of course, sir.’
‘Did you pay attention to every detail?’
‘I think so, sir.’
‘Then you would recall me saying that a replacement convoy was due to arrive at the base, wouldn’t you? And then you wouldn’t have had to haul me out of the...
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Descripción 2001-04-05., 2001. Estado de conservación: New. Headline. New Ed. Paperback. Book: GOOD. 448pp. . Nº de ref. de la librería NF-1730581
Descripción Headline 200, London. Pbk. Estado de conservación: New. It is 42 AD, and Quintus Licinius Cato has just arrived in Germany as a new recruit to the Second Legion, the toughest in the Roman army. If adjusting to the rigours of military life isn't difficult enough for the bookish young man, he also has to contend with the disgust of his colleagues when, because of his imperial connections, he is appointed a rank above them. As second-in-command to Macro, the fearless, battle-scarred centurion who leads them, Cato will have more to prove than most in the adventures that lie ahead. Then the men discover that the army's next campaign will take them to a land of unparalleled barbarity - Britain. After the long march west, Cato and Macro undertake a special mission that will thrust them headlong into a conspiracy that threatens to topple the Emperor himself. Nº de ref. de la librería 19872
Descripción Headline Book Publishing. PAPERBACK. Estado de conservación: New. 0747266298 New Condition. Nº de ref. de la librería NEW6.0384422