Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Two From Two - THE COMING OF THE KING - M.C. Scott

The Coming of the King by M.C. Scott
This is Book Two in the fantastic historical fiction series Rome by M.C. Scott (aka Manda Scott).
The first book in the series, Rome: The Emperor's Spy, went down as the best historical fiction I read in 2012 and I think this one may challenge for my favourite historical fiction of 2013. It certainly will be hard to beat.

The series really started way back with the name Manda Scott (not M.C. Scott) and the book Boudica: Dreaming the Eagle.
This was a series that could be classed as historical fantasy more than historical fiction for all the dreaming and predictions and prophesying. I always tried to palm these dreaming sequences off as 'coincidence'. I wanted so badly to believe that the book was straight, non fantasy, historical fiction that I came up with all manner of rational explanation for the dreaming predictions and their supernatural climaxes. But it is hard to palm it all off. Try as I might.
The author is a disciple of Shamanic Dreaming and you must wade through it, thick as honey, if you plan on reading her Boudica series.

There were four books in that series. Boudica: Dreaming the EagleBoudica: Dreaming the Bull, Boudica: Dreaming the Hound and Boudica: Dreaming the Serpeant Spear and it is in these books that you will first meet Sebastos Pantera and his back story.
However, in my opinion, which is the opinion of someone who started the Boudica series but never finished it (it was the dreaming, I am too much of a cynic on that kind of thing), you do not have to read the Boudica series to follow and enjoy the authors new Rome series.

Both books, The Emperor's Spy and this one The Coming of the King, involve the charismatic character Sebastos Pantera 'The Leopard'. His history entrenched heavily within the Dreamers of Britain (the Boudica background I mentioned), he is haunted by a past that makes him both a ruthless, methodical killer and an emotionally wounded survivor. He balances them well and there is no doubt that his past has made him better at what he does.

In The Coming of the King we find Pantera, Mergus and Hypatia travelling to the far Reaches of the Roman Empire in the First Century AD. During the Reign of Emperor Nero.
They will find themselves following their elusive enemy to Judaea where the Hebrew Wars are brewing and some small catalyst, any small catalyst, will explode and engulf the towns of Jerusalem and Caesarea and possibly take our heroes with it. This time it will not only be by fire, this time it will be by the sword and the volatile politics that surround the sacred sites of Judaea.
There is no shortage of battles and exciting street fighting in The Coming of the King and, as with The Emperor's Spy, the characters are memorable and multifaceted.
She does good characters, Manda Scott, she is one of the best at that.

I must confess, The Emperor's Spy and The Coming of the King are perhaps an alternate history for some people. I do not know enough about the bible stories to know when the author is rewriting biblical history, so to me it just makes good historical fiction. But there will be readers who will be challenged negatively by the author having rewritten some of the story from the bible.
 Of course there will be devout followers of the bible stories who will enjoy the challenge too.
I will not go into it too much or it will ruin plot lines for you if you plan on starting this series.
It is also worth noting while dreaming and predictions are found in this series, they are mild enough that my penchant for rationalising is satisfied. I never felt these first two Rome books were fantasy.
I could explain the dreaming and predictions away on coincidence quite easily. Which makes me a happy cynic.

Just as I did with book one, I raced through this book. They are highly readable, highly addictive books and I cannot wait to read the third instalment, Rome: Eagle of the Twelfth and then the fourth book in the series Rome: The Art of War which is released March 28.
She has gone two from two so far. Fingers crossed the next book will make it three from three.

I am not sure what to expect from these two books (#3 & #4) as they seem to have left Pantera and gone down a different path.
I would hope Pantera is still in them as his story is far from wrapped up. If he is in them, I suspect it is not as a main character.  It does not truly matter to me though. I find that Scott is such a good writer that it does not put me off the series if the character is wholly a new one.
 I am sure she will entertain me no matter who he is.

- MM


  1. I will definitely pick up this book. I like that there's a female author currently writing in the Roman military genre, to compliment the Scarrows and Sidebottoms out there. And, as a side note, I'm very pleased that the horseman on the cover isn't equipped with stirrups.

  2. I like that she's out there in the Roman military genre too. I don't know who else does it like this, with virtually zero love story or romance. There was a wee bit of romance in book one (Rome: The Emperors Spy) and it was the reason I loved the book but gave it 4 stars. That and the excessive amount of chariot racing in book one.
    This book two was pretty perfect for my taste.
    I hope she keeps writing in this era!