Tribune of Rome, Hardback

Tribune of Rome Hardback

Part of the Vespasian series

4 out of 5 (3 ratings)


ONE MAN: ONE DESTINY 26 AD: Sixteen-year-old Vespasian leaves his family farm for Rome, his sights set on finding a patron and following his brother into the army.

But he discovers a city in turmoil and an Empire on the brink.

The aging emperor Tiberius is in seclusion on Capri, leaving Rome in the iron grip of Sejanus, commander of the Praetorian Guard.

Sejanus is ruler of the Empire in all but name, but many fear that isn't enough for him.

Sejanus' spies are everywhere - careless words at a dinner party can be as dangerous as a barbarian arrow.

Vespasian is totally out of his depth, making dangerous enemies (and even more dangerous friends - like the young Caligula) and soon finds himself ensnared in a conspiracy against Tiberius. With the situation in Rome deteriorating, Vespasian flees the city to take up his position as tribune in an unfashionable legion on the Balkan frontier.

Unblooded and inexperienced, he must lead his men in savage battle with hostile mountain tribes - dangerous enough without renegade Praetorians and Imperial agents trying to kill him too.

Somehow, he must survive long enough to uncover the identity of the traitors behind the growing revolt


  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Atlantic Books
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Historical fiction
  • ISBN: 9781848879096



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Showing 1 - 3 of 3 reviews.

Review by

A very good read this. The author clearly has a genuine love of the historical setting and this shone through in some of the detail. The narrative was smooth and the characters likeable and I found the chemistry between Vespasian and Magnus humorous and memorable. There were some issues with flat dialogue early on, where a lot of backstory seemed to be conveyed through unrealistic sounding conversations, but overall this was a tiny blip on an enjoyable journey. Well worth a read for hist fic fans

Review by

Generously, I gave this novel four stars. It is good, but not great, but it was good, and I am feeling generous, so 4 stars. The story covers the life of the young Vespasian, as, at age 16, he enters public life in Rome, in the latter reign of the ageing Tiberius, amidst the machinations of Sejanus and others. <br/><br/>Immediately upon his arrival Vespasian, finds himself in a faction, opposed to the nefarious Sejanus, with the Lady Antonia as one of the ring-leaders. Vespasian also finds love, or at least lust, with a beautiful slave girl, a relationship that saves his life later in the novel. His first taste of imperial politics is a daring, night raid to save his beloved slave girl, which results in him having to leave Rome post haste, which carries him to Thrace, and one more conspiracy. <br/><br/>Our hero arrives in Thrace, with the rank of junior tribune, just as a rebellion is being crushed. Vespasian proves himself to be an able and brave soldier. He also proves himself to be an equally capable political insider. Evidence of the treason of Sejanus is uncovered. The novel ends with Vespasian stationed for four more years on the frontier.

Review by

I think I must have read most of the current 'big guns' (or should that be 'big ballistae'?) of modern Roman Historical Fiction. I usually try and read one or two of other genres, or at least periods, inbetween, just because I'm afraid of them all blurring into one if I don’t. Until this book, Robert Fabbri was a new, sometimes difficult to spell correctly, name to me. Afterwards, and I’m really glad I made the effort to get hold of 'Vespasian', as I found it a thoroughly enjoyable, well-written and rewarding read.<br/><br/>We’re back in the first Century AD. This time, in the area of countryside around Rome. Vespasian is 16 and is living on the family farm with his mother and father. His ambitious mother and father. They mean well, I suppose, his mum and dad...though they are mainly ambitious that Vespasian and his brother do well, for the sake of the family and the family name. Vespasian’s elder brother Sabinus, has just returned home from his first period away with the army. Vespasian has been running the family estates, and is actually quite good at it. However, Mum and Dad have other plans for Vespasian. He must do his bit for the advancement of the family fortunes and so his next rung on the Roman social ladder, is that he too must join the army. So, the 16-year old Vespasian journeys with his brother to the big city (not many bigger at the time, of course), to the centre of the world, to Rome. Here, Vespasian and his brother are to seek help with their advancement from their uncle. They also get valuable lessons in how to (hopefully) avoid the many pitfalls involved with said advancement in Roman social society. Luckily for me - as endless backstabbing and double-dealing Roman-style talking usually sends me walking…not everything goes according to plan. Vespasian soon finds himself, mostly unknowingly, caught up in someone called Sejanus’ machinations in trying to depose the ageing Emperor Tiberius. Vespasian has to get the hell out of Dodge and past the Praetorian Guards, in something of a hurry. He finds an escape route, by taking up a relatively (hopefully) obscure position as Tribune somewhere out on Rome’s Balkan frontier. But troubles find him even out there. Though they are at least troubles of the sort - attacks from local tribesmen, presumably not too keen on being another Roman frontier province - that can be solved more easily with a sword and a shield. A kind of problem solving Vespasian, (still only 16, I checked) is showing he has both the aptitude - and sometimes surprising for a 16-year old - the strength, for. In the meantime, he has of course, being 16 and a riot of Roman hormones - some things don’t change - has fallen in love. With the ‘wrong’ girl. With a slave girl. Fortunately later on, she might actually be the right girl, when…well, you’ll have to buy the book(s) to find out.<br/><br/>‘Vespasian’ (the book) I found inviting, informative and thrilling. Often all at the same time. Vespasian (the character) I thought was sympathetic, understandable and therefore believable. I also found Robert Fabbris style of writing very accessible, with the relevant nuggets of Roman information needed for full appreciation of the background to Vespasian’s situation, Roman society of the time on the whole, really well handled. Presented in a much more natural, and lighter, way than some writers. Prof H. Sidebottom, is an example that springs naturally to mind. Not as in your face, as H. Sidebottom can often be. Reading his last one, I felt like I hadn’t done my homework properly. Robert Fabbri’s way of writing seems a more flowing, natural style and lets the story work without it stopping and starting and where were we now before I had to try and pronounce/try and understand that/yet another difficult Latin word? I actually found myself enjoying how Robert Fabbri writes about the Roman social scene and the myriad of potential pitfalls they seem to have had waiting for them on their way to the top. I didn’t think I liked that sort of thing, but in Robert Fabbri’s hands, it feels fresh and interesting. As a whole, I thought ‘Vespasian’ was well planned and executed, a nuanced picture of a Roman going places, interestingly informative without ever being over powering and above all, very readable.<br/><br/>‘Vespasian' looks like the start of an engaging, convincing and well worth following all the way, Roman saga.

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