Review: Invader by Simon Turney

Posted March 14, 2024 by Stephanie in 4 Stars, Historical Fiction, Review / 3 Comments

Title: Invader
Author: Simon Turney
Series: Agricola #1
Publication: March 14, 2024 by Head of Zeus
Genre: Historical Fiction
Find it on: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Blackwell’s | Google Play | Kobo | Waterstones
Rating: 4/5★

The first volume in a thrilling new historical adventure series by Simon Turney, critically acclaimed author of Legion XXII and Sons of Rome.

58 AD, Rome. Agricola, teenage son of an impoverished yet distinguished noble family, has staked all his resources and reputation on a military career. His reward? A posting as tribune in the far-off northern province of Britannia.

Serving under renowned general Suetonius Paulinus, Agricola soon learns the brutality of life on the very edges of the empire, for the Celtic tribes of Britannia are far from vanquished.

To take control of the province, the Romans must defeat the ancient might of the druids – and the fury of the Iceni, warriors in their thousands led by a redoubtable queen named Boudicca…

 

 

I’ve read short stories by this author before, mostly in anthology style books but I’ve been meaning to read a full length book by him for so long. When I saw this newest book of his about Agricola up on NetGalley I didn’t hesitate and requested a copy for review. I ended up really liking the story and I’m already excited for the next part in the series. It was a pretty quick book, a real pageturner full of action and memorable characters.

With Invader, Simon Turney gave us a historical fiction about Gnaeus Julius Agricola, a roman general and politician who ends up being one of the Roman conqueror’s of Britain. Starting in 58 AD, we meet a teenage Agricola from a noble family but despite that they have become quite destitute. His family used their most of their resources to get Agricola a posting as a tribune in Britannia to start his career and hopefully turn things around for the family.

The setting of this book is really interesting to me. I’ve always been fascinated by the early decades to the first century of the Roman Empire, whether in nonfiction or as it’s the case with this book in historical fiction. Caligula and Claudius have just been emperor, and their reigns were chaotic to say the least, especially Caligula. Now Nero is the emperor, which we know will also be a pretty eventful reign. We aren’t in Rome, though, this book takes place in a partially conquered Brittannia and Agricola got his very first posting. There are tribes that work along with Rome, not wanting to fight against them but there are also tribes that are full on defiant. Agricola is one of the officers who is supposed to help with that and he sure takes this opportunity to rise in the ranks.

Agricola himself was very well-written. I really liked how the author has portrayed him, at least in these early years of his career. There were also many secondary characters that I ended up loving. Luci, a slave originally from Brittannia that Agricola purchased to get to know the lay of the land better, was probably my favorite character. I liked that they didn’t have a typical master/slave relationship and that Luci was pretty defiant despite being a slave. They did understand each other and I can’t wait to see where it all will go next.

I’m definitely not an expert with the conquering of Brittannia which took place over many many many decades so I can’t say how historically accurate this book was. But I am sure that Simon Turney did the best as he could. He clearly is very well versed in the Roman world as he has written fiction as well as nonfiction about it. There are events in this book that did happen that I have read about before like the slaying of the druids on Mona. And of course the uprising of the Iceni tribe led by the incredible queen Boudicca. I kinda wished the author had spend more time on the uprising but I do get that this book isn’t a story on Boudicca, it’s about Agricola.

As I already said at the start of my review, I already can’t wait to read more about Agricola because we are only at the start with Invader. I’m sure there’s so much more to come and I can’t wait. Invader was a solid read that was well-written, with a lot of battles but also some humor here and there sprinkled about, which made me chuckle more than once. Bring on the next book!

 

 

About the author:

Simon lives with his wife, children and dog in rural North Yorkshire. Having spent much of his childhood visiting historic sites with his grandfather, a local photographer, Simon fell in love with the Roman heritage of the region, beginning with the world famous Hadrian’s Wall. His fascination with the ancient world snowballed from there with great interest in Egypt, Greece and Byzantium, though his focus has always been Rome. A born and bred Yorkshireman with a love of country, history and architecture, Simon spends most of his rare free time travelling the world visiting historic sites, writing, researching the ancient world and reading voraciously.

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