I love historical fiction, how a writer can whisk you away to another time and place, exploring everything from the food and life to the society that characters experienced. I jumped at the chance to devour B.K. Greenwood’s The Last Roman.
“Gaul, 37 AD
Seasoned imperial officer Marcus Sempronius Gracchus leads the 9th Roman Legion into bloody battle against a fierce barbarian rival. It’s a battle he won’t survive.
When he awakens three days later, clawing his way from a hastily dug grave, Marcus realizes he cannot be killed—but that won’t stop him from dying time and again over the next 2,000 years. Burdened with a debt he cannot pay, is he cursed to walk this world without end?
But others like Marcus plan to bring the world crashing to its knees. Can he prevent the inevitable and find redemption?
The Last Roman lies somewhere between fantasy, historical drama, and a techno-thriller. Don’t miss the debut novel from B.K. Greenwood, and part one of an exciting new trilogy that will have fans of historical fiction and modern-day thrillers on the edge of their seats.”
I was initially drawn to the cover for this book, and I do love beautiful covers. Marcus is a Roman, a tank of a bloke and a skilled warrior. One chapter, interestingly, is in the past, with every other chapter is in the present. At first I thought it was reincarnation, but we’re told that after killing Christ, Marcus and several people he knew were “cursed” with immortality, where he is forced to relive his memories before coming back to life three days after he is killed. This made this book sort of half historical fiction, half thriller.
Marcus is a badass soldier in ancient Rome and a badass kind-of cop (so a modern-day “warrior,” arguably) in the present day. We see a variety of locations, from the seas of the Mediterranean to Egypt to modern-day Paris. There is plenty of action, keeping the pages turning, and some heart-wrenching moments that made me truly pity Marcus.
There were some good twists; some people you’d assume would survive didn’t, showing the sad fragility of life, contrary to Marcus’s immortality. The prose was nice, too, though I felt the first half of the book read more strongly than the rest.
Some characters I had trouble growing attached to. Marcus was well fleshed out, and I liked how tough he was, but other characters I didn’t care as much about. I found some of the more memorable characters were the ones who were only in the story briefly, such as the young Frenchman on the train.
The descriptions of the places were excellent; many scenes I felt like I was there, smelling jasmine and spices, feeling the waves crash against the side of the ship, or tasting the bitterness of cheap wine. Some parts I wasn’t sure about, such as the fact that Marcus struggles with technology despite him being alive all the way through its development. However, these were fairly forgivable as there was much more about this book I liked than disliked.
If you love action-packed stories with well researched locations and twists that’ll make you gasp, I recommend The Last Roman, which I give four stars!