First off is the latest Macro and Cato, Gladiator from Simon Scarrow. On their return from service in the Middle East the intrepid duo are forced ashore on an earthquake ravaged Crete, where a slave rebellion is underway led by a mysterious gladiator...
Whilst very readable this is probably the first Scarrow I've not 100% enjoyed. The Spartacus inspired plot is obvious and some potential big set piece battles missed, such as an assault on Gortyna by the slave army. Not bad, but Scarrow has done better.
Second on the list is Harry Sidebottom's Warrior of Rome (Part Two): King of Kings. Set in the 3rd century AD, the book falls into three main sections, with the key military action in the last third (the first two parts are interesting insights into political, religious and civilian life).
Although set over 300 years after Ben Kane's Forgotten Legion, the story and fate of Valerian's expedition against the Persians is very similar to that of Crassus, to the extent I did wonder if I'd already read the Sidebottom book!
Despite the similarities caused by the Roman's repeating the mistakes of history I am really looking forward to the third and final book in this trilogy.
Finally the third book was an impulse purchase of a book I was going to ignore (just how many Roman army books can a man read?!), but am glad I didn't.
Empire: Wounds of Honour by Anthony Riches is set on Hadrian's Wall in the late 2nd century and, despite its cover, concerns itself with an auxiliary unit and its new centurion, hiding from the 'justice' of a crazed Emperor. Despite potentially ticking every cliche box (old grizzled vet befriends young inexperienced noble), Riches neatly side steps any obvious (Macro/Cato, Sharpe/Harper) comparisons and in many respects the book reminded me of Rosemary Sutcliff's excellent Frontier Wolf. Of the three books this was the one that got me thinking about buying miniatures!