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Review: Vespasian. Rome’s Executioner

Robert Fabbri

This post is also available in: Polish (polski)

Vespasian. Rome's Executioner

The book “Vespasian. Rome’s Executioner” is the second part of the series dedicated to Vespasian, the founder of the Flavian dynasty and the initiator of the construction of the magnificent amphitheater – the Colosseum. The second volume tells the story of a young knight who, while serving in the legions, also takes part in a deadly and dangerous political game. Vespasian must not only face hordes of barbarians but also conspirators and traitors who are only waiting to kill the opponents of Sejanus, the all-powerful praetorian prefect.

The next part of the series of novels is in no way inferior to its brilliant predecessor. The plot is extremely fast, logical, and at the same time mysterious enough that the reader has no right to be bored. Naturally, Robert Fabbri is forced to fantasize or guess at certain situations and events, as it was in the previous volume. However, he does it mostly out of compulsion (no data available) or out of a pure need to add color to the plot.

Certainly, the very motive of kidnapping a barbarian priest, Rotex, from a fortress in Thrace besieged by Roman troops is fiction. However, the author had to tie the plot together somehow, especially since this period of Vespasian’s life was not marked by many events. His service was actually very peaceful.

The plot of the book is clearly divided into three parts. In the first, Vespasian has to carry out the aforementioned mysterious mission. However, the operation is full of adversity, which this time Vespasian overcomes together with his brother, Sabinus. They are accompanied by their faithful servant Magnus, who is to ensure the safety of the future emperor in this dangerous mission.

The second stage is the journey of the heroes by sea to Rome with the prisoner. The author treats us to an interesting battle at sea with pirates and a meeting with the oracle, which indirectly reveals Vespasian’s future.
In the last part of the volume, Vespasian pursues his political career as a minor official, fulfills Antonia’s political goals, and goes with his companions to the island of Capri, where the old and eccentric ruler of Rome, Tiberius, settled. The task is to prove the betrayal of Sejanus and save Rome from a possible coup. Antonia gives the young Flavians tasks that only prove how important people they are in her game with Sejanus.

As I mentioned before, the book is written in a really interesting way, the maps placed at the beginning of the chapters facilitate orientation in space, and the author’s afterword allows you to better understand the described world. The ending of the volume, in my opinion, is extremely dramatic and makes it clear that sometimes you have to go against your principles to achieve your destiny.

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