Wednesday, 11 September 2013

SPARTACUS - Talons of an Empire by Robert Southworth - Reviewed by Steven A. McKay



Talons of an Empire           

by Robert Southworth

Reviewed by Steven A. McKay

Please note that the giveaway is no longer valid

This, Robert Southworth's debut novel, is billed as an “alternative history” tale. That's not really a genre I've read much of, other than the odd Philip K. Dick or Harry Turtledove novel. However, Spartacus, Talons of an Empire can quite easily be read as a “straight” historical novel so don't be put off by the “alternative” tag.
 The idea here is that Spartacus survived his famous rebellion, and is then put to bloody work for the hateful Roman overlords in return for his freedom. It's a fine premise to base a story on, but to be honest, you can imagine the protagonist as any gladiator and it'll make no difference to your enjoyment of what is a fine book.
 What we have is a group of men – almost a “Dirty Dozen” of the Roman-era – taking on a dangerous mission through hostile lands and, ultimately, fighting to the brutal end in the arena.
 The author sets the scenes well, drawing vivid pictures of each place in the reader's mind so it's easy to become drawn into the action as if we were right there.
 The characters are fairly varied and there are some poignant, gentler moments scattered throughout which serve as an interesting and welcome diversion from the brutal action and let us see the human side of these hard fighting men.
 There were a few places, though, where I felt the action jumped a little too quickly – it might have been nice for certain scenes to have lasted a bit longer, building the tension before cutting to another part of the story – but in general the pacing is very good. 
 I also struggled somewhat with a couple of characters' (Cassian and Spartacus) reactions – both at the time and subsequently – to certain deaths. I can't go into more detail or it would spoil the plot a bit, but I thought, if it had been me witnessing those events I would have felt rather different to Cassian or Spartacus. But that's down to the individual's outlook so can't really be classed as a criticism, just an observation.
 I picked this up for under a pound on Amazon and I have to say it was well worth the admission price, and, with the next in the series, Spartacus, The Gods Demand Sacrifice just released, I would recommend you take a look at this fine new author.



Robert is giving away a paperback copy of his book so for your chance to win, join us on Facebook

Steven A. McKay is the author of the Kindle War chart number 1, Wolf's Head. 
Find out more at his website:


  1. Brilliant review Steven, this book looks like a must read for Roman and Spartacus fans

  2. Wonderful review! Adding this book to my to-read pile! Thanks, Steven!