The Imperial Banner

The Imperial BannerI wrote about The Siege in glowing terms after I read it last year, so be prepared for a similar paean for The Imperial Banner, the second in the Agent of Rome series by Nick Brown.

The year is 272AD, two years after the events of The Siege during the Palmyran rebellion, and the young Cassius Quintius Corbulo is again in Syria as an agent of the Imperial Security Service.

The Grain Men (or frumentarii) took the name from their organisation’s original purpose of supplying legions with grain, but went on to become the emperor’s eyes and ears across the empire.

Unlike The Siege, the latest title is much more of a detective story. The Imperial Banner of the title is not Roman as you might imagine, but a priceless Persian artefact.

Derafsh Kaviani

Derafsh Kaviani

Faridan’s Banner (or the Derafsh Kaviani) was and is one of the important symbol of Persian and Iranian culture and essential to the forthcoming peace treaty, but it has disappeared en route to Antioch, along with a large amount of treasure.

Cassius has nineteen days to recover the banner’s safe return to preserve the peace or face a punishment posting to Thessalonica.

In the company of his Christian servant, Sumo, who we met in the first book, and Indavara, an ex-gladiator bodyguard, Cassius sets of on an adventure that takes him across half of Syria and lands him in the middle of the political intrigue of Antioch.

Nick Brown has woven together an intricate tale of who and why dunnit and demonstrates his knowledge of the Syria of the period without the detail getting in the way of the story. He also draws his character with a dry humour.

The Imperial Banner does not disappoint and is well worthy of my five stars – I just can’t wait for the next in the series.

Nobody’s prefect. If you find any spelling mistakes or other errors in this post, please let me know by highlighting the text and pressing Ctrl+Enter.

5 comments… Add yours
  • Arctic Fox 28th June 2012

    This is the second book review that I’ve read in two blogs consecutively….. both sorts of “whodunnit?” that turn out to be a “who/what/whydunnit?” – Interesting and unfortunately there don’t seem to be enough hours in the day for me to read blogs, never mind the interesting books they suggest to me – the other one in case you were interested was Iain Banks’ – Stonemouth…. I know you’re not interested, butI tell you anyway.

    Nearest I’ll get to The Imperial Banner is watching a few episodes of Spartacus Blood and Sand! (sorry)

    Reply
  • rhymeswithplague 28th June 2012

    Good post, Ian! I like to learn something new every day, and in your link to Derafsh Kaviani I encountered the word “vexilloid” for the first time.

    Thanks, awfully.

    To say nothing of “Derafsh Kaviani”….

    Nick’s book sounds fascinating.

    Reply
  • Mr Parrot 28th June 2012

    Thanks Mr Fox. I wish I had more time to read too!

    Mr Plague: I have written about matters vexillogical before.

    Reply
  • rhymeswithplague 28th June 2012

    So have I. I understand vexillology and vexillological. But I never before encountered the word vexilloid.

    Reply
  • rhymeswithplague 28th June 2012

    And neither has my dictionary.

    Reply

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