Review of WOLF’s GOLD by Anthony Riches, published by Hodder & Stoughton

ISBN 978 1 444 71186 8

For the last few weeks I’ve not had a chance to read anything that wasn’t non-fiction, nor to write anything other than the final version of the first draft of my next book, which is the reason for the lateness of this review.

This is the first book of Anthony’s I’ve read. He is one of those fortunate types who writes for his own pleasure, because he has a real day job, and the enjoyment of writing comes out in his books, as does his delight in history, military especially. He has a knack of bringing soldiers to life, with all their coarseness and brutality, loyalty and affection.

His series is a brilliant concept: it follows the life of one guy who’s lost his inheritance, relations, everything, because of betrayal back in Rome. His dreams are haunted by his father demanding revenge, or his younger brother staring at him. An awful survival guilt drives the main character through the books, initially because he has no idea who or what led to his fall from grace, and latterly (in this book) because he finds out and starts to seek vengeance. The next book, I think, will take readers back to Rome. That’s a book I’m looking forward to!

Anyway, Wolf’s Gold, the fifth in the Empire series, begins with the Tungrian auxiliary cohorts arriving in Dacia, far beyond the Danube, to guard a complex of gold mines. The Sarmatians are keen to take the gold, and have little fear of the Romans. They know that Rome prefers to pay protection-money than get involved in unnecessary campaigns, but in this area there are some complicating factors: devious Sarmatians who want power over their own people, more Sarmatians who detest Rome and all she stands for, and will fight to the last to destroy any Roman soldiers they find, and when Roman politics are also thrown into the mix, the result is a complicated but immensely satisfying plot to torture the mind!

This is a book which really grabs you. It’s the story of one little campaign, in effect, but that is like saying Rorke’s Drift was an insignificant sideshow in the Zulu War. Wolf’s Gold has stayed with me (with jealousy while I was finishing my own next title) and it’s one that I will go back and read again for pleasure. It’s a story full of treachery, deceit, honesty, integrity and very well-written battle scenes that will have readers on the edge of their seats!

Read it. You won’t be disappointed!

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