I am someone very interested in the setting of these books. I'm interested in the roman empire, and it's fall. I'm interested in the dark ages. I'm interested in the Romano British. I'm interested in the ancient Celts of Britain, Hibernia, Wales, and Brittany who come before during and after the Roman conquests. I'm interested in the Saxons and Angles and other Germanic tribes. I'm also interested in the legends of king Arthur as well as historical tie ins to those legends. This series should have been just for me!
I'll throw in that though I'm a fan of these topics, I'm not a historian on these times or peoples. I've never done a history degree, and though I touched on many historical readings of the dark ages, I have never done any thorough or academic research of the period. I don't claim to be an expert. I'll still state my observations and opinions.
There were some things about this book that I liked. I liked learning a few things about roman Britain, where the cities were, and how the military was organized and such. However one thing the author wrote into this story made me doubt the historical accuracy of the rest of the book. There is an important character who comes from the Roman aristocracy, old blue blood of Rome if you will. He's not only born of old respected ancestry but also born into great wealth. He is introduced as a general. At one point in the book he says that his son is joining the Legions as a rank and file soldier, just like he did. Not as an officer, not with special privileges... a common foot soldier. I can not swallow that both he and his son joined the Roman legions as common legionnaires. From what little I know of late Roman society, aristocrats did not join the legions as common soldiers nor did common soldiers get promoted up to being generals. In this story I am asked to believe that this character of very high birth joined as a common foot soldier and worked his way up to commanding a legion through honest hard work and personal excellence. I'm also asked to believe that his son is embarking on the same path. I could be totally wrong but I feel the author is imposing modern western middle class values of hard work into a society where those values do not belong. In my mind it destroyed all credibility that the author possessed.
Aside from making certain characters buy into modern values, and making me question the authenticity of the story, I do have other critical comments. I found the pacing odd. sometimes it glossed over long periods while at other times it was detailed. I suppose this is what happens when you tell a tale that goes over lifetimes and even generations. Personally I like tales of action and high adventure and at times I was disappointed when the narrator would summarize periods of great trial and conflict with very brief descriptions.
This first books can be read as the life story of a man, a Roman veteran. but the focus of the story is more towards the end of his life as he starts to build a new community. This will be important in the later books. Afterwards it follows the stories of others who follow the ground work he helps to set. With the passing of one hero we begin to focus on another. i have not finished the series but I would not be surprised if the second hero who is focused on is eventually overshadowed by a third. But I can not say as I have not read that far.
Overall I enjoyed the beginning, but lost interest as the books progressed until I just stopped reading them. I would not recommend it to anyone whole heartedly. I might reservedly recommend it to those who, like me, are interested in the historical setting that it takes place within. i may eventually pick it up again and continue reading. It wasn't horrible.