2.75 stars: The book was entertaining but couldn’t get me excited.Copy provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.
A stolen treasure that hides a secret more valuable than gold itself, a recreated Roman Empire full of political intrigue where magic has been forbidden and almost forgotten, and a hero that will slowly unravel all the secrecy and mysteries.
From the very start of the book, our protagonist, Senior Centurion of the Roman Legion Tullus, will be riding into battle, what is nothing but promising. The particular turning of events will give him an unrefusable opportunity which will lead him to Rome and the possibility of a better life.
This is probably a good moment to insert a warning: if you haven’t read the synopsis of this book, please DON’T. Let’s say that it is a little bit too informative.
So, unfortunately, after that very well written first battle the plot soothes and left me reading a quasi-predictable story (at least until half the book), spiced up with gore and sex scenes, and with a bunch of characters I couldn’t really relate to:
- Tullus is a hero who is honest and does not so honest things to achieve the goals that he thinks are honest.
- The women, Ana and Eliana, are both portrayed as strong characters, but they both have a slightly neurotic side.
- Norbanus, the tribune, is the best developed character in my opinion. He lets us see his past and what exactly fuels his actions and his greed for power.
- Scorpio is that bad man that does bad thing. It would have been cooler if there was some development or a little more information about his past.
- Celestra, the incantra leopardess, that is as intelligent as any human being and posses the power of summoning thought provoked spells. She’s pretty awesome, I can’t deny.
In general, there is a palpable sense of drama that, for my personal liking, goes a little over the top drenching everything: the plot, dialogues, characters and the actions they take, making it all seem a little absurd at times (example: the whole leopard king disguise and act). But, of course, that’s a pretty subjective opinion.
Regarding the historical settings, I’m no Roman history expert, but it does feel really good. We set off from the prologue with the Tacfarinas rebellion, through the ascension of Emperor Caligula and until the actual change of mind during his rule which inspired lots and very interesting rumors that the author uses fully. It’s pretty clear that the author did a good share of investigation for this book.
As for the plot, there seems to be a separation between the trilogy plot and the actual plot of this book. This book establishes a well conformed, good paced story with a begining, middle and ending, but the trilogy plot seems to barely advance reveling very little about, for example, what happened to magic and air paladins or what is exactly the value of the stolen treasure.
Concluding, I would say The Leopard Vanguard has everything needed for a light, entertaining read: adventure, action, gore, sex and romance, with a strong point on historical setting. I wouldn’t jump into this looking for fantasy and lots of magic, complex plot or political intrigue (as it’s quite transparent to the reader).
A final thanks to T.A Uner for allowing me to read his books and being so very attentive during the whole process.