Agents of Rome, by Alistair Forrest

Tom Marsh

A three book series set in the aftermath of Caesar's assassination and the murky world of Roman espionage.
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Alistair Forrest’s Agents of Rome series is set in the wake of the infamous assassination of Julius Caesar in 44BC.

Following the lives of the cunning and honourable centurion, Titus, and his humorous, brave, if somewhat audacious, right hand man, Crispus, the three books narrate a fascinating, fast-paced story of battles, betrayal, espionage, and romance, all set in the context of that monumental event.

In the first book, Nest of Vipers, the steadfast and banterous relationship of Titus and Crispus, as leaders of Octavian’s legions, brings to life significant events of the first century BC, such as Brutus and Cassius’ defeat at the Battle of Philippi, and presents the reader with a gripping new perspective. The narrative explores the piratical exploits of the son of Pompey the Great, Sextus, set out to uphold the cause of his father against the triumvirate. Forrest creatively imagines a network of spies – the Vipers – led by Octavian’s spymaster Agrippa, of which Titus is forced to be a part of, with the aim of defeating Sextus.

Forrest is excellent at developing characters quickly yet deeply, and alongside thrilling tales of espionage and sea battles, we also read of a protagonist with a deep affection for his wife and children in Sicily. Viper Pit continues where Nest of Vipers left of, with Titus struggling to separate his violent, Roman and secret life with his peaceful, Sicilian, farmer existence at home. Pathos is generated for the hero, as we read of both his physical and psychological battles as trouble presents itself at every corner. On the other hand, new hatred for Sextus is created as the character emerges into a cruel, tortured soul, no doubt caused by the executions of both his father and brother.

The defeat of Octavian’s forces at the hands of Sextus Pompey’s superior naval ability leads the reader hungrily anticipating the next book – What role will Titus, Crispus, and the extended family play in the momentous climax of the Sicilian Revolt? Viper’s Revenge preserves all the themes that made the previous books so enjoyable, as we are taken on another fast-paced, action filled story where Titus must race against time to save his family from the vengeful Sextus.

Forrest has done his research well, entwining fascinating events and people in history and detailed descriptions of Roman battles, weapons, food and so on, with an exciting narrative and a plethora of intriguing fictional, yet believable characters. This all serves to contribute to a thrilling and authentic read.

Agents of Rome by Alistair Forrest is out now, published Sharpe Books.