Friday, February 23, 2024

Book Review - The Silk Road Centurion

Review of Silk Road Centurion by Scott Forbes Crawford. Manchester, U.K, Camphor Press, 2023, 432 pages. ISBN 978-1-78869-279-3. 5 Stars

If you're interested in a piece of history embedded in a novel with a heavy dose of drama, suspense, and the pursuit of honor, I highly recommend Scott Forbes Crawford's Silk Road Centurion. This story is an amalgamation of Roman and Chinese cultures fused by threats against the principal characters that force them to fight if they are to survive. The author is a highly skilled storyteller who unveils shocking plot developments as the novel ends, compelling the reader to invest his emotions with every twist and turn.

The author tells the powerful story of the Roman Centurion Manius, who survives the total defeat of his army, only to have his life changed forever as he fights to survive and return home. Manius and some of his fellow soldiers are sold into slavery and transported to the Far East by a barbarian tribe. When his companions are sold, Manius remains behind because he is crippled. A group of Chinese prisoners join him, prompting Manius to befriend them and learn their language. An opportunity for escape presents itself, driving Manius to fight for freedom, and he takes refuge in a Chinese farming village.

The farmers realize that Manius has put them under threat of attack, so they work with him to fortify the village. When the inevitable happens, the town withstands the attack, but Manius' friend, Ox, sees his daughter kidnapped. Manius and Ox set off to pursue the girl, battling the elements and their enemies in a quest for love and honor.

The strengths of this book include strong character development and the personal relationships that tie the characters together. The noncombative farmers add their strength of will to the warrior skills of Manius to become a formidable team. The reader takes a tense ride along as the hero improvises his way toward survival. The cultural fusion is engaging, and the Roman learns much from his colleagues.

A weakness in the book is the vocabulary. The author used his strong vocabulary skills to create elegant word pictures, but I had a problem with the result. Some of the vocabulary is too advanced for a story set in 52 BCE. The spoken words are acceptable, but I would like to see the descriptive words simplified. I stopped noticing the words once I acclimated to the author's style.

The book weaves together a plot that is easy to follow and suspenseful. Anyone reader looking for that next "can't put it down book" should pick this one up.

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