Reviews

The Encircling Sea by Adrian Goldsworthy

sleepyboi2988's review against another edition

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5.0

Favorites Ferox and Vindex triumphantly return in this follow-up to Goldsworthy's most excellent Vindolanda.

The plot has opened up a bit more; old friends and enemies return but aren't as much a focal point as the first novel.

As with the first, Goldsworthy has an excellent knack for writing both fiction and nonfiction of getting you excited and wanting to know/learn more. I noticed that this isn't spoiler-related, but this book's climax begins with a siege. I realized that the Roman talent for siegecraft was absent in the first book, that book's climax being a significant set-piece battle. I realized last night Mr. Goldsworthy is educating us on how the Romans in each novel did things in their history.

Overall, I enjoyed this one as much as the first, though I enjoyed the plotline of the first with Ferox playing the "detective" a smidge more.

hastati1989's review against another edition

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adventurous mysterious tense fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? No
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? No

4.25

vagueillusion's review against another edition

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fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Plot

3.5

lisaebetz's review against another edition

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5.0

I liked this second installment as much as the first. Interesting characters and plenty of action in a very authentic setting. There aren’t many Roman action series as well written as this one

dd40's review against another edition

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4.0

Much like the first book in the series, this one starts quite slowly. After an opening scene of an ambush/rescue, there is a vague threat to investigate but it takes until about the halfway mark for the enemy to be defined and the action to pick up pace.

The second half of the novel focuses on a couple of days of siege and battle on a remote island, interspersed with Ferox's romantic interludes. It became a page turner as the tension heightened (it took me 5 days to read the first half but only 2 days to close the book from there).

Overall, an entertaining read helped by the level of detail from the author's academic background. There are better series out there at in the world of ancient Rome but this is work a look, especially if you get it through Kindle Unlimited.

trowellingbadger's review against another edition

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4.0

Definitely one of the better Roman fiction series so far (although I'm a bit biased towards Roman Britain given it's what I research!). Goldsworthy is an eminent historian of the Roman army and has used his considerable expertise to create an authentic and believable setting for the book, with good characterisation and an enjoyable plot.

The series is set in time period less often explored in similar books: namely the late 1st/early 2nd Century in northern Britain. This places it over half a century after Claudius' invasion but a couple of decades before the construction of Hadrian's Wall. This is fairly early in the occupation of northern Britain when there was no clear barrier demarcating the limits of Roman conquest (although it is arguable to what extent the Wall performed such a function) and where complex relationships existed in a flexible, permeable border region. Goldsworthy explores the dynamics of the region well, and avoids slipping into the trap of imposing modern ideas of Roman v non-Roman, or of social castes onto the characters in the story. For instance, the main character is a Silurian Briton, fostered by Romans and brought up to serve in the Roman army, and most of the supporting 'Roman' characters are other Britons or Germans (as was historically the case in this region at the time).

The plot is good, if perhaps a little more rushed than in book 1, although it's an interesting one, again different from many books' focus on linear borders or the invasion. As the title would suggest, the sea is central to the plot. Many of the interactions throughout the book, both diplomatic and warlike, occur as a result of connections across the sea, between Britannia and Hibernia, as well as the islands to the south west of modern Scotland. Again there are variations within these relationships, and the world is not divided into Romans and enemies.

The plot does suffer a little occasionally with an overabundance of detail, some of which could have been sacrificed for the sake of narrative. As I said earlier, I think aspects of the plot are a little thin and perhaps the book could have been given more space to breathe: some parts of it do get a little predictable and I wonder if that was because plot threads needed to be wrapped up quickly. Regardless, I enjoyed it a great deal and if you have an interest in historical fiction, particularly of Rome, there are many worse books you could read!

strath's review

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4.0

Adventure in Roman Britain

Adrian Goldworthy's second novel continues to enchant with his fine adventure set in Roman Britain. Vivid, rich settings. Fully drawn characters. Carefully drawn historical accuracy.

I have it 4 Stars because this episode of his series might narrowly appeal to readers interested in in this period of British history or of historical fiction .

kiwimrsmac's review

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5.0

Another superb historical fiction book by [a:Adrian Goldsworthy|6429037|Adrian Goldsworthy|https://images.gr-assets.com/authors/1404619702p2/6429037.jpg]. A violent military romp filled with humour, love, revenge and beheadings. Set around Roman Vindolanda and the coast of the United Kingdom.
The historical notes at the back of the book were just as interesting and entertaining as the story itself.
A worthy sequel to the first book in the series.
As I have personally found a couple of the writing tablets whilst volunteering at Vindolanda, knowing that the author incorporates the information from the Vindolanda Writing Tablets into his novels makes it even more special.
If you enjoy historical fiction/Roman history/military novels, then this is the book for you. You don't necessarily need to read [bc:Vindolanda|34525793|Vindolanda (Vindolanda #1)|Adrian Goldsworthy|https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1489156041l/34525793._SY75_.jpg|55659980] before reading [bc:The Encircling Sea|36350564|The Encircling Sea (Vindolanda #2)|Adrian Goldsworthy|https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1507092966l/36350564._SY75_.jpg|58032877], but I recommend it.
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