The book “Beasts Beyond The Wall” by Robert Lee is the first book in the “Brothers Of The Sands” series. The plot tells the story of two former gladiators who are sent far to the north of Britain to find a woman and a child on a mysterious mission. The action takes place during the reign of Septimius Severus. The book was published by the REBIS publishing house.
Robert Lee, it turns out, has various historical novels to his credit, which so far have focused on the Viking world or 14th-century Scotland. This time, however, he decided to take action in the times of ancient Rome; as it turns out, very rightly so.
The main characters of the novel are gladiators and friends of Drust, who is a Thracian; and Kag, originally from Caledonia. The action takes place at the end of the reign of the old emperor Septimius Severus, in 208 CE. goes to Britain with an ambitious plan to conquer Caledonia (present-day Scotland) to strengthen the position of the dynasty. Our heroes are given a mysterious task by their patron Septimius Structus to find a kidnapped woman and her child; and their main opponent is supposed to be a certain “Dog”. They are accompanied in the expedition by their companions, also former gladiators, e.g. Sib, Quintus, Manius or Ugo.
The pluses include a very interesting presentation of dialogues and actions; and above all, a very pleasant way of passing on knowledge and interesting facts about gladiators or chariot races. After the first sentences, you can see the skill of the writer in creating an intriguing plot and substantive preparation. Robert Lee tries at all costs to show the brutal (there are plenty of bloody and realistic descriptions here) and mysterious world of the Roman Empire: from Rome to Tripolitania and Britain.
At the end of the publication, the author placed a glossary with the Latin phrases used, which he tried to neatly include and translate in the plot; and a concise historical background.
To the minuses – certainly, the lack of an overview map of the active site, marking the lands of the Caledonians; scratching where the walls of Antoninus and Hadrian ran or where the main Roman city was located during the invasion of Severus – Eboracum (present York).
Overall, the book is highly recommended. There are many historical novels and authors dealing with the world of the Romans on the market; as it turns out, however, there is still room for more historical novels on Roman topics. Certainly, Robert Lee will be mentioned alongside such names as Ben Kane, Geraint Jones, Robert Fabbri and Harry Sidebottom.