Friday, June 24, 2011

Review: Master of Rome by John Stack

The glamor surrounding Hannibal and his amazing trek through the Alps with a cadre of elephants during the Second Punic War has captivated history buffs for so long that the First Punic War has been virtually overlooked by many historical novelists.  Likewise, although many authors have written thousands of pages about Rome's fierce legions, Rome's first tentative efforts to build a navy and develop seamanship that would eventually rival Carthaginian mariners who had ruled the Mediterranean for centuries have been largely ignored as well.   But Irish author John Stack has redressed  both of these oversights in his "Masters of the Sea" series of novels.

I was unaware of Stack's efforts until the third book in his series, "Master of Rome", popped up in the available titles on  As I am always on the lookout for stories set in the ancient world, I immediately selected it as one of my choices and was pleased to discover that its story focussed on the naval battles of the last years of the First Punic War.
The story's protagonist, a Greek born Roman prefect named Atticus Perennis, has honed his seamanship fighting pirates (which I learned later is covered by the first book in the series, Ship of Rome) and has learned to use the corvus, a boarding ramp introduced by the Romans to allow them to take advantage of land-type assault maneuvers at sea, to deadly effect.

More at Roman times