Review: The Noise of War: A Tale of Ancient Rome by Vincent B. Davis II


The only survivor of a brutal battle, driven by a desperate need to see his family again…Rome, 105 BC. Quintus Sertorius fought while the enemy slaughtered 90,000 of his brethren in the city’s bloodiest defeat. Battling night terrors and survivor’s guilt, he vows to preserve his beloved Rome and embarks on a covert mission deep into enemy territory.

Sertorius grows his beard and disguises himself in the garb of a Gaul, all the while his stomach churns with fear of discovery. But in order to gain vital information about the invaders, he must sink deeper into their ranks. As he uncovers the depths of the barbarian’s depravity he alone will have to rise to Rome’s aid.

Will Sertorius avenge his comrades and reunite with loved ones, or will the next massacre mark the end of the Republic?

The Noise of War is the second book in the best-selling Sertorius Scrolls historical fiction series. If you like vivid backdrops, the courage of conviction, and a fight for survival, then you’ll love Vincent B. Davis II’s compelling saga.

My Review

This is book two in the series; I had not read book one but had no trouble picking up the story. Told in first person, our protagonist Quintus Sertorius was one of the few ragged, beat-up survivors of the battle of Arausio. Rome suffered a terrible defeat and Quintus felt shamed that he lived when so many others, including his brother, died heroically. I would say that the whole book is devoted to his attempt to redeem himself. No one—except perhaps Quintus—would deny that he succeeded. Put into situations that would deter many a lesser man, Quintus not only succeeded in his missions, he went beyond all expectations. Perhaps he had a death wish; if so, he was denied that atonement.

Once General (and Counsul) Marius returned to the area, Quintus and his little band of companions rejoined the legion. Quintus was known to Marius and was reestablished in the great man’s favor. My knowledge of Marius and Sulla comes from Colleen McCullough (First Man in Rome), and these characters are written in the same mode; they felt very familiar. A New Man (in other words, not a noble), Marius was heroic, unbeaten, and fearless, but he still had to prove himself every step of the way. Sulla, on the other hand, was an aristocrat down on his luck. But he believed in his destiny and used Marius as a stepping-stone, hating him all the time. Both of them had a use for Quintus, who was sent to spy on the Tectosages, allies of the formidable Cimbri; they needed to be stopped before all the tribes joined forces. Naturally, Quintus was terrified; this had never been done before. How was he going to prove himself before they killed him? He obviously didn’t belong:

“It’s best you leave before you get yourself hurt,” the father said, his drunk sons cackling behind him. It was clear that they weren’t concerned for my safety.

“I’ll fight any man here to prove I’m able,” I said, spitting out the words before I could stop myself. As they turned around and sized me up, I immediately regretted my words. The Gallic prisoner had told me I must do this, but I wondered if I could have avoided it, if only for a bit longer. Too late now, though.

“Is that right?” the father said.

“Any man among you,” I said again, doubling down on my stupidity.

All eyes turned to one of the younger men, and it made sense why. As tall as all the other barbarians, this man was larger than the rest. His calves were thicker than my thighs, and the muscles of his back extended so that his arms hung out like wings.

Needless to say, since he lived to tell the tale Quintus did well, even if he did take a couple of knocks. His information helped the Romans win the battle against the Tectosages, and then they had to take on the real enemy, two hundred thousand strong. This was to be Marius’s finest hour, and the battle against the Cimbri literally saved Rome. Quintus was there every step of the way, and his story gave us a good piece of history. I came away with a significant understanding of life in the Roman legions, good and bad, and how formidable they were even against impossible odds. Well recommended.

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