Title: Nova Praetorian
Author: N.R. Walker
Publisher: BlueHeart Press
Release Date: October 26, 2018
Genre(s): MM Historical
Page Count: 394
Reviewed by: Kirstin
Heat Level: 4 flames out of 5
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Quintus Furius Varus is one of the best lanistas in Rome. Tall and strong in build, fearsome in manner, and sharp of wit, he trains the best gladiators bound for the arenas of Rome. When Senator Servius Augendus seeks personal guards, he attends the Ludus Varus for purchase of the very best. He puts to Quintus an offer he cannot refuse, and Quintus finds himself in Neapolis, contracted as a trainer of guards instead of gladiators.
Kaeso Agorix was taken from his homelands of Iberia and delivered to Rome as a slave. Bought by a senator to be trained as a guard, his fate is handed to the man who would train him. Absent free will, Kaeso knows his life is no longer his own, though he soon realises the gods have favoured him when he learns his new master has a kind heart.
Quintus and Kaeso forge a bond that far exceeds the collar at Kaeso’s neck, and together they discover the senator’s move for promotion has an ulterior motive. Thrown into a world of politics and conspiracy, of keeping enemies close, they move against time to save Rome before traitors and the gods themselves see to their end.
And in doing so, see the dawn of the nova praetorian—the new guard—rise.
While I’m not a huge fan of Roman Empire tales, N.R. Walker giving it a go was enough for me to beg for an opportunity to read this. And I’m so glad that I did.
The tale begins with Quintus Furius Varus, a Roman gladiator trainer extraordinaire. He’s asked by Senator Servius Augendus to accompany him back to Rome, basically as security detail and guard trainer, for an unknown amount of time. While he’s there, Servius has a new team of slaves brought in, including Kaeso Agorix, who was taken from his home in Iberia to become a slave. When his pride gets in the way, Quintus asks to make him his personal slave for the time he’s in Neapolis.
This is where it gets good… where N.R. Walker does the finest work. The slow burn between the two men, both gauging each other’s plays, the looks of desire when no one is watching, the stolen moments… all an intrinsic Walker tale. And she does not leave us wanting.
There is a lot of action, a lot of Roman gladiator pride, fighting, tales of slavery and unequal footing. There is also a lot of hope and love and fearlessness and honor above all.
Yes, this was set during an era of slavery and riches beyond measure, hatred and evil, but this is a tale of finding the good and letting it be the hope for a bright future. This was an awesome story that I’ll remember as one of the best from this author.
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