#BookReview : #RivalsOfTheRepublic by @afreisenbruch : @Duckbooks



Rivals of the Republic” by Annelise Freisenbruch was published by Duckworth Overlook  on 20th October 2016.


The body of a Vestal Virgin is dragged out of the River Tiber. A senator bleeds to death in his bath. As the authorities turn a blind eye, Hortensia, daughter of the capital s most celebrated orator, feels compelled to investigate a trail of murders that lead to the dark heart of Rome. Flying in the face of her husband’s and father s attempts to protect her, rebelling against the constraints imposed upon her sex, she is drawn ever deeper into the corrupt underworld that lurks in the shadows cast by the city s all-powerful elite. When fires begin to rage in the slums and other key witnesses are silenced, only one man can save Hortensia from becoming the next victim of a conspiracy to destroy the Republic: Lucrio, the damaged ex-gladiator to whom she already owes her life. But will the secrets of his own tragic past threaten to subsume them both…

My Thoughts:

This is set in Rome, 70BC, its main protagonist is Hortensia, daughter of a notable and renowned lawyer Hortentsius.  She has her fathers tenacity, skills and understanding of law and the Roman legal system.  She discovers a devious plan that if successful will send shock waves throughout Rome, she will call on the help of an ex gladiator to delve into this murky world of back stabbing, underhandedness that is called politics.  It soon becomes obvious that Hortensia is not your average Roman, but a strong-willed individual with strong moral ideals.

This book took a couple of chapters to get into before I really got the feel for it.  There are quite a few characters, with some similar sounding names, as well as getting into the story, but as I started to get a handle on this I was then able to really enjoy it. Once in full flow, it became obvious that the author really knows and loves her subject, her knowledge of law, society, status and history.  I really liked the characters of Hortensia and Lucrio, as well as the dodgy Petro.  As mentioned previously there are a lot of characters, and they have a varied range of traits and characteristics that make them memorable as the story progresses.  Also in this book is a handy lists at the beginning of who’s who, and what their role is.

The author mentions at the end of the book that she has used many actual historical figures and accounts of events, she has then woven her story around this.  The story revolves around a murder / mystery, but it much more than that.  What made it more enjoyable for me was the historical content such as people, places, habits, customs, social class and structure and the differences between people.  I would recommend this book to people who like historical fiction and murder mystery genres.


About the Author:

61vS1gZArgL._UX250_Annelise Freisenbruch was born in Bermuda in 1977. After moving to the UK with her family, she studied Classics at Newnham College, Cambridge, and was awarded a PhD in 2004. She is the author of The First Ladies of Rome (Jonathan Cape), a highly-acclaimed history of Rome’s empresses, which was published in the US as Caesars’ Wives: Sex, Power and Politics in the Roman Empire (Free Press) and has been translated into eight languages. Her first novel Rivals of the Republic – which previously appeared Amazon e-book Blood in the Tiber – was published by The Overlook Press (US) and Duckworth (UK) in 2016. She lives with her partner in Dorset where she teaches Latin.

Book Details:

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Gerald Duckworth & Co Ltd (10 Aug. 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0715652206
  • ISBN-13: 978-0715652206


Follow Annelise on Twitter  | Visit her Website

Follow Duckworth on Twitter | Visit the Website

Buy the book from Duckworth | Amazon UK

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#BookReview : The Risen by @TarnRichardson : @DuckBooks


Before I review this book and then give an overview of this Trilogy, I would like to say i have loved these books immensely. I have been amazed and blown away by this incredible trilogy, is a huge story, well researched and executed.


The Risen is the final book in “The Darkest Hand” trilogy.  It is set in during The First World War, when war is ravaging Europe and its implications are felt across the world.  The Vatican is dealing with its own internal war, the implications of this will affect the populations across the world.  The Apocalypse is almost here.  Those loyal to the Church will have to draw heavily on their reserves and resources as they battle the hordes.  They will discover the truth behind a prophecy. That all is not as it appears and old foes will again play their part. The story takes you on a journey around the globe, showing how far evil and war can travel, but comes back full circle as the battle against the Antichrist reaches its climax.

With this book being the final in the trilogy, it pulls together all the subplots, previously unanswered questions from the earlier books.  A small detail or conversation mentioned in those books, suddenly carries a great weight.  A seemingly insignificant detail becomes a bombshell of realisation.  Nothing has been missed out in this gory, brutal, bloody and truthful conclusion.  The story has come full circle into an epic finale.


I fell in love with a little e-book called “The Hunted”. It had so many things going on its 45 pages, I couldn’t help but wonder how it would transfer into a longer book, nevermind a trilogy of them.  Tarn Richardson has brilliantly put together a huge story with a vast array of memorable and unique characters.  I have loved some, loathed some and have been very wrong in my opinion of some.  For me this shows what a great author he is, he has managed to bring his characters and his books alive for me in the words he has written.  It is like reading a film.  There has been a huge amount of research gone into this book and it shows, through the way he has intertwined his world into our own world history.  For me he has pulled off one of the most amazing trilogies i have come across.  I agree with Cal Moriarty’s comment on the front cover, “Evokes the fantasy of Tolkien and the darkness of King” very deserving of this recommendation.  For me these books are second only to The Lord of The Rings books, and they are my favourite.

You will not be disappointed when you read these books.  Be warned however;  you will become addicted, you will not want to miss a single word or sentence, if you skim over any passage (I don’t think you will) you will miss a crucial detail. You will be immersed in a magnificently twisted and deep-rooted plot, that will be intertwined with treachery, conspiracy, immorality and also faith, loyalty, friendship and so much more.

I would recommend these books for readers of fantasy, dark fiction, horror, thriller and historical fiction.


The final, thrilling instalment of Tarn Richardson’s Darkest Hand trilogy (‘a remarkably original premise [with] damn fine characters’ David Moody), The Risen serves up a fittingly visceral, relentlessly gripping and action-packed climax to this epic series of dark fantasy.

1917. War and revolution are consuming the world, and the apocalypse is imminent. The world is desperate for a hero who can push back the relentless tide of darkness, and save humanity from the return of the Antichrist. But where is Poldek Tacit, the only man capable of defeating these terrifying forces? As old allies unite in a frantic race to unmask the Antichrist and thwart his plan to bring everything into his power, the Darkest Hand continues to terrorise the innocent – while in the Vatican’s vaults long-buried secrets are about to be unveiled, and humanity’s chance of redemption from the forces of evil hangs by a single thread…


Paperback, 352 pages
Published May 18th 2017 by Duckworth Overlook
ISBN13 9780715651704
Edition Language English
Many thanks for reading my post, if you liked it, please give it a share.  Better still, go and buy these great books.  You will not be disappointed.