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Summer, AD 69. Rome and its empire are in turmoil, caught in the coils of a desperate and destructive civil war.
The emperor Otho is dead by his own hand and his rival, Aulus Vitellius, occupies the imperial throne. However, a new challenge has arisen in the East – the legions of Titus Flavius Vespasian have declared him their Emperor.
In the dry heat of an August morning, Gaius Valerius Verrens prepares for his last day on earth. Wrongly accused of deserting his legion on the field of Bedriacum, it seems he is destined to die a coward’s death.
Then the executioner’s hand is stayed. Vitellius' enemies will spare the life of the man who was once Hero of Rome if he pledges allegiance to Vespasian and his cause. Valerius – tired of the endless slaughter and hoping that he might be reunited with his lost love – agrees. And so he must battle his way south to Rome in order to persuade his friend Vitellius to stand down for the greater good of the city, its people and the Empire.
But this is civil war and this is Rome, and Valerius – his loyalties divided and branded an enemy of the people – is trapped in a maze of distrust, corruption, betrayal and blood-letting . . .
Gaius Valerius Verrens returns to Rome from the successful campaign against Boudicca in Britain. Now hailed a 'Hero of Rome', Valerius is not the man he once was - scarred both physically and emotionally by the battles he has fought, his sister is mortally ill, his father in self-imposed exile. And neither is Rome the same city as the one he left.
The Emperor Nero grows increasingly paranoid. Those who seek power for themselves whisper darkly in the emperor's ears. They speak of a new threat, one found within the walls of Rome itself. A new religious sect, the followers of Christus, deny Nero's divinity and are rumoured to be spreading sedition.
Nero calls on his 'Hero of Rome' to become a 'Defender of Rome', to seek out this rebel sect, to capture their leader, a man known as Petrus. Failure would be to forfeit his life, and the lives of twenty thousands Judaeans living in Rome. But as Valerius begins his search, a quest which will take him to the edge of the empire, he will discover that success may cost him nearly as much as failure.
The first book in an action-packed and rigorously researched new Roman historical series by the acclaimed author of Caligula and Claudius
The Roman grip on Britain is weakening. Emperor Nero has turned his face away from this far-flung outpost. The Druids are on the rise, spreading seeds of rebellion among the British tribes. Roman cruelty and exploitation has angered their British subjects. The warrior queen Boudicca will lead the tribes to war.
Standing against the rising tide of Boudicca's rebellion is Roman Tribune, Gaius Valerius Verrens, Commander of the veteran legions at Colonia. Valerius leads the veterans in a last stand against the unstoppable horde of Boudicca's rebel army. Step by step, the bloodied survivors are forced back into the Temple of Claudius. It is here that Valerius wins lifelong fame and the accolade Hero of Rome.
Douglas Jackson turned a lifelong fascination for Rome and the Romans into his first two novels, Caligula and Claudius. He was born in Jedburgh, in the Scottish Borders and now lives in Bridge of Allan. Hero of Rome is the first novel in a major new Roman historical action series.
‘The story I now commence is rich in vicissitudes, grim with warfare, torn by civil strife, a tale of horror even during times of peace.’ Tacitus, The Histories
AD 68. The Emperor Nero’s erratic and bloody reign is in its death throes when Gaius Valerius Verrens is dispatched to Rome on a mission that will bring it to a close. With Nero dead, the city holds its breath and awaits the arrival his successor, Servius Sulpicius Galba, governor of Hispania. The Empire prays for peace, but it prays in vain. Galba promises stability and prosperity, but his rule begins with a massacre and ends only months later in chaos and carnage. This will become known as the Year of the Four Emperors, a time of civil war which will tear Rome apart and test Valerius’s skills and loyalties to their very limit. Fortunate to survive Galba’s fall, Valerius is sent on a mission by Rome’s new Emperor, Otho, to his old friend Vitellius, commander of the armies of the north. Vitellius’s legions are on the march, and only Valerius can persuade him to halt them before the inevitable confrontation. In an epic adventure that will take him the length and breadth of a divided land, the one-armed Roman fights to stay alive and stave off a bloodbath as he is stalked by the most implacable enemy he has ever faced.
70AD. Disgraced, dishonoured 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 centre 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 honour 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 confirms his reputation as 'one of the best historical novelists writing today' (Daily Express) with the third action-packed adventure featuring his on-time gladiator hero, Gaius Valerius Verrens...
Emperor Nero’s grip on power is weakening. In every shadow he sees an enemy and like a cornered animal he lashes out at every perceived threat. His paranoia settles on the figure of Gnaeus Domitius Corbulo, Rome’s greatest General who leads the imperial legions in the East.
So popular is Corbulo with his men that he effective presides over an Empire within an Empire. Is Corbulo preparing to march against Rome and take the purple?
Gaius Valerius Verrens, Hero of Rome, is ordered to Antioch with the power of life and death over Corbulo, a soldier he worships. There he finds word of his mission has preceded him and every man’s hand is turned against him. But Corbulo’s eyes are not on Rome, but on a new threat to the Empire’s border. The Parthian King of Kings, Vologases, is marching to war and with such an army that if not stopped he might overwhelm the entire Roman east.
Valerius marches at Corbulo’s side. Outnumbered they make a stand in the barren wastes beyond the Tigris to meet Vologases in an epic contest of military might and ingenuity that will decide the fate of the Empire. And while he fights for the Empire, and for his own survival on the battlefield, Valerius must decide whether to complete his mission, or risk incurring his Emperor’s dangerous wrath.
A newspaper journalist by profession, Douglas Jackson's lifelong fascination for Rome and the Romans inspired him to pick up the pen and write his first novel, Caligula, and a sequel Claudius. He has gone on to become one of the best writers of Roman historical fiction at work today. Avenger of Rome is the third title in his series featuring Gaius Valerius Verrens; the first two, Hero of Rome and Defender of Rome, are available in paperback and ebook editions.
AD 72. Titus Flavius Vespasianus, known as Vespasian, is Emperor of Rome – but his grip on power is weakening. Economic disaster threatens the city – and when Rome is threatened, so too is the Empire.
Recently married and building a new home, Gaius Valerius Verrens thought he’d at last found a life away from the battlefield. But he is summoned by the Emperor to do one last favour for Rome: he must journey to the remote, mountainous region of Asturica Augusta and investigate claims that a bandit called ‘The Ghost’ is raiding the Empire’s gold convoys.
When Valerius arrives, he finds a tortured, gods-forsaken land whose native tribes, exploited for so long, are a growing threat. But treachery lurks in the shadows, and it seems the real danger comes from those closer to him.
Valerius must put an end to a conspiracy that would plunge the Empire into a devastating new conflict – but first he must establish who is a friend, and who a foe . . .
77AD. Gaius Valerius Verrens is an honoured member of Emperor Vespasian’s inner circle, but the enmity between him and Vespasian’s son Domitian means that, even in Rome, danger is never far away. Meanwhile, in the outer reaches of the Empire, in Britannia, trouble is brewing.
The governor, Gnaeus Julius Agricola is preparing to march his legions north and Valerius is Agricola’s chief legal adviser and deputy governor. It's the opportunity he seeks to move his wife and son out of reach of Domitian’s wrath. But Britannia is where Valerius cut his military teeth and whetted his sword - and he will soon discover that the ghosts of his past are never far away and are more dangerous perhaps than Domitian.
The massacre of a Roman garrison and suspicious death of the legate of the Ninth Legion throw Agricola’s preparations into confusion. Now his eyes turn west to Mona, the Druids Isle, where the Celtic priesthood still harbours hopes of ridding Britannia of Roman rule. But to deal with the druids and their savage Ordovice protectors Agricola needs a soldier he can trust at the head of the ‘unlucky’ Ninth. Only one man in the province has the experience and the ability . . .
So a reluctant Valerius must put aside his scrolls and pick up his sword once more and march beside the eagle of the Ninth. It’s only as he stands on the shoreline opposite Mona that he understands any glory his new legion wins is likely to be fleeting and tainted - and that he has placed his family in deadly peril.