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Empire III: Fortress of Spears Paperback – Jun 28 2011

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton (June 28 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0340920378
  • ISBN-13: 978-0340920374
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 3.3 x 22.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 458 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #378,665 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


This is fast-paced and gripping "read-through-the-night" fiction, with marvellous characters and occasional moments of dark humour. Some authors are better historians than they are storytellers. Anthony Riches is brilliant at both.—Conn Iggulden

'An unputdownable read.'—Good Reading Magazine on Wounds of Honour

Stands head and shoulders above a crowded field . . . . real, live characters act out their battles on the northern borders with an accuracy of detail and depth of raw emotion that is a rare combination.—Manda Scott

Riches has captured how soldiers speak and act to a tee and he is very descriptive when it comes to the fighting. It is a novel full of power, lust, envy, violence and vanity. The very things that made Rome great and the very things that would lead to its downfall. If you like historical novels, read this book.—NavyNet on ARROWS OF FURY

Cornwell, Iggulden, Smith - Beware. There is a new power on the rise.— on Wounds of Honour

Ancient adventure at its pulsating best! . . . A military expert, Riches brings top-notch drama, vivid storytelling and historical realism to his tales set in a turbulent time.—Lancashire Evening Post on Arrows of Fury

A damn fine read . . . fast-paced, action-packed.—Ben Kane

'With Wounds of Honour Anthony Riches has produced a terrific first novel that focuses on the soldiers of the Roman Empire in great detail. He vibrantly portrays the life in an auxiliary unit.'—Canberra Times on Wound of Honour

About the Author

Anthony Riches began his lifelong interest in war and soldiers when he first heard his father`s stories about World War II. This led to a degree in Military Studies at Manchester University. He began writing the story that would become Wounds of Honour after a visit to Housesteads in 1996. He lives in Hertfordshire with his wife and three children.

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Format: Paperback
An excellent series epitomising the era. Bloody, violent, and fierce, but fascinating. A few minor grammatical solecisms were confusing (i.e. one character "had an ugly face called Otho", so I wondered what the other parts of his body were called!) but, overall, a good read.
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By Raven TOP 1000 REVIEWER on July 8 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
Read through this quite quickly. Riches continues to paint a believable and enthralling ancient Roman frontier world, with enticing and compelling main characters as well as well fleshed out secondary characters. This book sees our main characters traipsing through the lands beyond Hadrian's wall, battling "Barbarians", fighting with "barbarians", strategizing with them and earning their loyalty. Another book about loyalty and brotherhood, and while it might not be wholly believable that such loyalty can be found amongst so many people, it is something we all wish could be real and is an enjoyable read. After all, it is loyalty and honour that makes us love our heroes, and tragedy that keeps them interesting. Well written action and battle scenes. My only complaint would be when the main character enters into lone battle, which seems to happen frequently in this particular book, the fight scenes are rather repetitive and his extreme awesomeness a little much to take. :). Still, very enjoyable read.
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By Walt Penner on July 4 2014
Format: Paperback
I was not able to put the book down till I finished it! That doesn't happen to often.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 26 reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Excellent May 11 2011
By Nick Brett - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This is the third book to feature Roman troops in the vicinity of Hadrian's Wall close to the borders between England and Scotland.. An added complication to this series is Centurion Corvus who is hiding amongst them under a false name as he is under a death sentence as a result of politics back in Rome. Sent to Britain to be out of the way, his exploits keep bringing him back to the attention of those who want him dead.

So here we have a rather nasty team sent from Rome to capture him amongst the running battles with the local barbarians.

I enjoyed this as much as I enjoyed the previous two books, the author writes with an easy but compelling style and handles action and character very well. The `brotherhood' of the Roman troops, the banter, loyalty and affection is perfectly blended with the action and a sense of loss when characters we have grown fond of do not make it.

I think Anthony Riches is the equal at least of the other famous names in this genre and I incline towards the view that he is probably better, but that is down to personal taste. At the end of this book it looks like the troops might be heading for Germany and that's probably a good move, not many Brits actually left to crush! Were I to offer the author some gentle advice, it might be to park the fugitive aspect of his hero as the formula has been repeated (although very effectively) through three books and Mr Riches obviously has the talent to refresh the series with some new elements for us to enjoy.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Right up there with the best... March 16 2012
By JPS - Published on
Format: Paperback
Review first posted on on 29 May 2011

I'll not paraphrase the praise that has been heaped on A. Riches for Fortress of Spears but will only make a few comments.

First, it is relatively rare for the third installement in a series to be as good as the first two. For me at least, only Scarrow, Cornwell and Cameron have managed to do this.

Second, one of the author's forte - which he almost overdoes at times - is his very realistic descriptions of the horrors of war. Somebody has compared him to the lamented Pressfield and there is something to it, although Gates of Fire - for me at least - is still a notch above. Nevertheless, it is superbly written. There are a few cliches (the blue-eyed hero fighting gladiator-style with the two swords etc...), although these may be difficult to avoid.

As another commentator mentioned, the frumentarii (a mix of secret service and imperial assassins) are depicted as having little choice than to carry out their orders and do their job. However, this is not entirely true since they also seem to take great pleasure in it...
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Still fantastic July 26 2013
By william jenkins jr - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is the third series of Centurion Corvus and is still going strong and full of action. Great story line.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Excellent story line focused on Roman Britain Nov. 17 2011
By J. Groen - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book appears to be the last one in the line of three books in the Empire series by Anthony Riches. And, in my opinion, it is by far the best of the three books. The author ends the series with an excellently written story line with twists in plot that kept me on the edge of my seat. It will be interesting if he continues with these characters, because the character development is a lot better in this book, making me interested in what happens to Marcus, Felicia, Dubnus, and the rest.

This book starts off a little slow, and to some level confusing (unless you read the other two books right before this), but stay with it. The story picks about one third of the way through and then continues. At the end, I couldn't put it down because the story line drew me in with interest in what was going to happen next.

Like the other books, this one has plenty of action with battle scenes that are exciting, but to some level confusing. Further, as one of my criticisms of the book, the graphic dwelling on blood and gore and torture can be concerning at times.

One other area of confusion, was the spy from Rome - he was called a "corn officer". Just what is that, the author never really spends the time describing that, and as some of us know, the food, corn, was really not developed until later in the new world, purportedly initially by the Aztecs (I believe, but am not 100% sure).

In spite of these two small criticisms, I still highly recommend this book and give it the highest rating possibly especially for any reader interested in Roman history and Britain. I highly recommend that you read the two starter books in the Empire series by this author first.
Third in a Terrific Series June 5 2014
By Charles F. Kartman - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Apologies for a late review; I don't know how this one slipped between the cracks, but it did and my recollections are a bit blurred by the passage of time. Forewarned and all that.

Mr. Riches is rightly praised for his story-telling and historical research and it seems well deserved to me. Each of the three books has much to recommend it. I should warn, however, that this is a series that is best read in order.

The main character is Marcus Aquila, aka "Corvus" and "Two Blades", who attracts devoted followers and unwanted fame for his martial skills. In fact, the number of continuing minor characters is already one or two more than I would wish. The three books thus far take place in northern Britain, near the Wall, and involve Rome's efforts to put down various tribal uprisings. This is by its very nature complicated, just as Caesar's campaigns Gaul were complicated due to the different tribes, and it requires the reader to pay attention.

This time Marcus and the auxiliary Tungrians are up against a leader named Drust, who is accompanied by Calgus. They are not allies, and their relationship was fascinating. There is more brutal, bloody combat, and Mr. Riches continues to do these scenes superbly. In fact, the realistic "feel" for the life of a soldier in the legions -- well, the auxiliaries -- is a sufficient reason to read all these books.

Marcus is still pursued by the "corn officer" and a Praetorian from Rome. The functions of the frumentarii are perhaps the least described in all the literature about the period, and I had no idea whether this was realistic or not. I have not thought this plot line added much to the series, but Mr. Riches appears to be committed to keeping Marcus tied to the politics that forced him to flee Rome in the first place, so we can expect to see more of his problems with the agents who pursue him.

For my money, Mr. Riches' is the best Roman series on the market.