Left absolutely breathless. A profound work in scope, scale and detail. Manda Scott never disappoints.
Nero is dead and the battle for Emperor begins. Vitellius is in Rome claiming the throne for himself and Vespasian exiled on the East but really the Emperor everyone wishes for. It falls to Pantera to oversee the fall of Vitellius and pave the way for the rise of Vespasian by using his spy network to protect Vespasian's family in Rome while gathering support for his cause at the same time.
This is a book of spies. A book full of twists, turns and surprises. The Art of War is a very apt title, not so much about epic battle scenes but more about the strategies, plans and subterfuge that takes place before and behind the fighting. The dialogues are delightful, words carefully spoken with a lot of information but subtle in their hidden meanings which only a spy can defer its true meaning by reading between the lines. The book builds in suspense and intrigue until the final battle for Rome and Vespasian is put on the throne.
I loved the way how the author continues her break in style from the previous book by continuing to use 1st person singular expanding on the idea by using the views of many different characters "spies"'letting you really read their thoughts and intrigues. Each character gets their own chance to tell the tale from their perspective. However, the main character, Pantera, is never given such a chapter or chance therefore still remaining aloof and distant, adding to his overall mystery. I found this a great idea to make a complicated spy network involving so many characters easy to keep track of.
All in all another superb work from the master of historical novels.