Book Review: Bandits of Rome by Alex Gough

Bandits of Rome is a sequel to Alex Gough’s novel Watchmen of Rome. Both novels deal with the seamy side of Rome during the reign of the Emperor Tiberius. Gough’s flawed hero is a man named Carbo, a veteran of twenty years in the legions and one of the few survivors of the devastating battle of the Teutoberg Forest.
After their harrowing experiences in Rome, Carbo decides to take his intended bride Rufa, her daughter Fabilla, his best friend Vespillo and his wife Severa and his German born slave Marsia to his farm on the outskirts of the ancient Greek-founded city of Nola. There he hopes to make his farm prosper and live a life of peace, contentment and tranquility. Alas, it is not to be.
Nola is in the grip of bandits who have established a reign of terror. In particular there is a pair of ruthless thugs who dress in the masques of the old Greek theater-Tragedy and Comedy. They rob and kill the unwary and sell their captives into slavery. The bandits have taken on the personae of the cursed Greek house of Atreus. Tragedy is Atreus and Comedy is his brother Thyestes. Carbo and his party have an unfortunate encounter with the pair as they approach Carbo’s farm and Carbo kills Comedy, thus incurring the undying wrath of Tragedy. They report the matter to the tribune who heads the Stationeri in Nola and find that the authorities are unwilling to get involved in any efforts to curb the lawlessness. Corruption runs deep.
There are fates worse than death, as Carbo will discover when he is sent to work in the lead mines of Sicily. Fortunately for Carbo, his friends have not forgotten him.
Bandits of Rome is an awesome combination of historical fiction, murder mystery and exciting adventure. Alex Gough is a masterful storyteller.

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