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The Sign Of The Eagle (Britannia Romanus Book 1)
by Jess Steven Hughes
For love and for country, one woman must act and think swiftly. “The Sign of the Eagle” is a novel set in ancient Rome. Macha, daughter of a Celtic king, delves into the intrigue of Roman life as her husband is accused of murder and the very nature of the empire may be at stake. With many fascinating characters, “The Sign of the Eagle” is a strong addition to any collection looking for more historical fiction. — Midwest Book Review
This breathtaking historical novel of action and suspense is set in the year 71 A.D. amid the exotic and vibrant streets of Ancient Rome. Macha, the strong-willed daughter of a legendary Celtic British king and wife of the Roman tribune, Titus, is the only one who can prove her husband innocent of treason, solve the murders of two slaves who possessed information that could have exonerated Titus, and ultimately save the life of the Roman Emperor Vespasian.
Vivacious and iron-willed, Macha undertakes a dangerous journey and fight for her life to evade assassins through the city’s treacherous back alleys, notorious bathhouses, and the awe-inspiring palaces of the Roman elite. With time running out to save her husband and the emperor from certain death, Macha can count on only two allies, the esteemed Senator Bassus-a family friend-and her faithful slave, a resolute and clever Moorish woman, Shafer.
Arrayed against Macha and Titus are the wealthy and wicked Pollia, once scorned as a bride by Titus, and Falco, a military tribune and womanizer, who offers to be Macha’s protector once Titus is condemned and executed.
Join Macha in her quest to exonerate her husband…and discover the real threat against the Emperor…
Review By Convoke “lokhos”: The Sign of the Eagle Will leave you breathless.
This review is from The Sign of the Eagle (Paperback).
Spend some time in Ancient Rome, solving mystery upon mystery as a British Celtic woman raised a Roman tries to clear the name of Titus, the Roman tribune who is her husband. Got that? “Sign of the Eagle” is a crime thriller, a police procedural, and a correct historical with all the vocabulary and scholarship necessary rolled into one delicious package. Threats and plots reach all the way up from the garden villa of our heroine, Macha, to the court of the Roman Emperor Vespasian.
Macha’s husband Titus is a professional cavalry soldier. When Titus is accused of treason, Macha’s adventure goes into high gear, with everything she loves at stake.
Rather than ruin the story for you, I’ll not dwell on the plot beyond saying it has turns and twists enough for any modern reader. This book also has the feel of its period: every detail is correct, from swords and cavalry tack to combs and pins for our Celtic heroine’s red hair.
Don’t mistake me: this novel is neither bodice ripper nor dissertation, but a full-blown novel of ancient Rome that at times reminded me of Eco’s “Name of the Rose.” Want to let that sink in? Yes, this is a real historical novel, not a romance in ancient clothing nor a gamers how-to book. Good novels are rare, good historical novels even rarer.
Buy this book and read it. Buy a couple to give your more literate friends for Christmas. I bought the trade paper and its production values are excellent; the print is easy to read, the prose crisp and as sharp and clear as you’d expect from an author such as Jess Hughes, who has been a police detective and Marine Corps, veteran. Hughes knows war and intrigue and human failings firsthand. What Hughes has learned in life informs this novel with his expertise in treachery, in war, and in crime, lending this story great substance without ever being wordy or awkward. Men will be as diverted as women by this novel, part action-adventure, part suspenseful thriller, and part a ticket to another place and time.
“Sign of the Eagle” is satisfyingly complete in itself, yet also forms the first novel of Hughes’ trilogy set in the 1st century AD. The next two books, “The Wolf of Britannia, Part I & II,” by Jess Steven Hughes, are now available.
Series: Britanna Romanus (Book 1)
Global Library: Fiction (Historical)
The Sign Of The Eagle Book Trailer – Jess Steven Hughes
The Wolf of Britannia Part I (Britannia Romanus Book 2)
by Jess Steven Hughes
First Century AD Britain is a fragmented land of warring Celtic tribes, ripe for invasion by the juggernaut of imperial Rome. Knowing this, a young warrior, soon-to-be-legendary, Prince Caratacus, must unite the southern tribes if they are to survive. This is an enemy more cunning and powerful then either he or Britain has ever faced.
Standing by him is his wife, Rhian, a warrior princess who takes no prisoners. She is the first woman he has truly loved. With her support and that of other allies, Caratacus must outsmart a traitorous brother who is determined to take the throne, aided by a conniving Roman diplomat and a tribal king in the pockets of the Romans.
Caratacus must save his country not only from the pending Roman onslaught but from his own peoples treachery. Or else die trying.
Review By Janet Morris: The Wolf of Britannia, Part I (Paperback).
I, The Sun; The Sacred Band.
First, I should say that I previously read Jess Steven Hughes’ “Sign of the Eagle,” and loved it — for me, it was a story told by a modern Umberto Eco, without the academic conceit that made that book slow and creaky.
So, I approached The World of Britannia somewhat hesitantly:
I’d loved that one; would I like this as well? Or was Sign of the Eagle a fluke? I am here to testify that Sign of the Eagle was no fluke.
The author is a natural storyteller. His domain is the Celts at the dusk of Roman rule. His stories are humanistic, full of mystery, suspense –yes, and violence where needed. There are so few good historical novels written today that are not bodice rippers meant only for women that this book is a breath of fresh air. I dare say women will like this story as much as men. And although it is a “Part I, ” Wolf a complete, satisfying story — another thing rare in a time of endless sagas with no beginnings or endings.
Story about what, you ask? Wolf of Britannia, Part I, is a novel of action and suspense, panoramic and thrilling, set in First Century AD Britain where soon-to-be-legendary Prince Caratacus, a young Celtic warrior struggles to unite disparate interests against an enemy that has brought the world to its knees: Imperial Rome.
The prince and his warrior wife Rhian face not only Roman enemies but the treacherous brother who’ll do anything to take the throne. This writer, Jess Steven Hughes, has a deep and learned understanding of human failings and human heroism; in this story’s dramatic depths, both are crafted by a master hand.
Young and noble Prince Caratacus risks life and limb to save his country and the world he knows and loves — it never occurs to him not to try, even against the most fearsome odds. Your pulse will race as this wonderful story brings you eye to eye with enemies born of internal strife and home-grown treachery, and those who represent the tyranny of Rome.
Despite the demands of research, the difficulty of writing about the last days of Celtic Britain with a fresh eye, Hughes succeeds in bringing us something new in his story of these misty times: an understanding of the best and worst of humanity that feels as if it were gained firsthand.
This story is a great adventure, and those are few and far between.
Series: Britanna Romanus (Book 2)
Global Library: Fiction (Historical)
The Wolf of Britannia Part II (Britannia Romanus Book 3)
by Jess Steven Hughes
Britannia Romanus series: Volume 3
After winning the southern British throne, Caratacus and his tribe of Celtic warriors must face down the invading Roman army. He leads his people as they fight for freedom from the iron-fisted Roman rule that is in the process of obliterating their culture and lifestyle.
As the king strives to keep his people free, he must also battle his beautiful, conniving and lascivious cousin-a queen who wants Caratacus for herself.
Set in the years between 43 and 60 AD, in the mysterious land of ancient Britain and the majestic palaces of Rome, The Wolf of Britannia, Part II, is a painstakingly researched tale of one daring man, willing to risk his life to destroy the entire Roman army and to save his people.
Review By Convoke “lokhos”: The Wolf of Britannia, Part II
A brilliant historical novel of Ancient Britain and Rome.
Jess Steven Hughes is a real talent floating in a sea of wannabees. Books of vivid and evocative historical fiction about ancient Britain clashing with Rome come few and far between these days, requiring as they do deep research and a sensibility that will put you in the minds and souls of characters long buried. Jess Steven Hughes has these skills and more. This is the third Hughes book I have read, and I hope for many more. His prose is always crisp, his scholarship fine-honed but never obtrusive. But these qualities alone don’t make a book exceptional or unforgettable: a story must have the ability to grab you by the throat and not let you go until the last line on the very last page. Hughes has the gift of breathing life into his characters, which is a skill that a true historical writer must have, or fail in the task of transporting the reader into a vanished world.
Read The World of Britannia II and you will be transported into the mind of a great Celtic warrior, Caratacus, as he fights for freedom against the whole of Rome. Wolf of Britannia II has war and death, mystery and betrayal, love and glory, and an intrepid band of men and women fighting a battle that may be hopeless — but then, perhaps not…
Here’s a sample from Hughes’ brilliant Wolf II: “Caratacus watched as wave after wave of his and Fergus ap Roycal’s charioteers hurtled through the roiling dust, working opposite sides of the Roman column and hurling spears at the Roman shield-wall. Several penetrated and a few soldiers went down screaming. But the wall instantly closed around the dead men.”
Read this prequel to The Sign of the Eagle slowly if you can. Take your time. Savor it. Delight in Hughes’ deft plotting, his ability to breathe life into his characters. If you love historical fiction, I can nearly guarantee you will devour these books and its sequels and hope for more.
Series: Britanna Romanus (Book 3)
Global Library: Fiction (Historical)
The Broken Lance (Britannia Romanus Book 4) by Jess Steven Hughes
Britannia Romanus series: Volume 4
In Rome, when shaking hands with a stranger, you’d best count your fingers to see if they are still attached.
In 44 AD ancient Britannia is wild, unpredictable, and merciless. The dusty streets of Rome are chaotic and dangerous, home to incredible opulence, deplorable poverty, and a political web that catches anyone who dares to question the empire. Both places call to young Roman cavalry sergeant Marcellus Reburrus, who must survive a world of political treachery, in which one’s life can be taken in an instant–by friend or enemy.
After enduring a ravaging storm, Marcellus’s boots hit the shore of Britannia under the orders of Roman Emperor Claudius only to face deplorable conditions and a commander who would rather see Marcellus dead than reporting for duty. Despite the circumstances, Marcellus quickly makes a name for himself, earning awards for bravery, promotion to centurion, and further alienating himself from the evil commander.
Marcellus’s arrival in Rome brings a whole new set of problems, the least of which are dodging assassination attempts, unraveling conspiracies, and falling in love. From the underground caves of beggars beneath the city to the magnificent homes of the Roman elite, Marcellus uncovers an elaborate plot of betrayal―one that can bring down the entire city. Can he find the conspirators before they find him . . . and destroy everything he holds dear?
This beautifully descriptive novel brings to life the remarkable worlds of ancient Britannia and Rome–while following the brilliant Marcellus, whose entire life is turned upside down as he must solve a complex mystery and stay alive amongst backstabbing senators, murderous traitors, and an extraordinary city whose legacy is both inspiring and duplicitous.
Review by Michael Connery: The Broken Lance (Kindle Edition).
5.0 out of 5 stars Review by Michael Connery, The Written Word
Jess Steven Hughes’s The Broken Lance is a fascinating glimpse into the Roman military, politics, and culture of the mid-first century. >From the wilderness and outposts of Britannia to the dangerous streets of Rome, Hughes’s latest venture into the ancient world is a gripping read.
The tale centers around a young Iberian cavalry sergeant, Marcellus Reburrus, who is swiftly rising through the ranks. In turns battle-hardened and compassionate, clever and foolish, Marcellus is dedicated to the men he leads and the empire he serves, even as he faces racial prejudices and a commanding officer with a family vendetta. Marcellus is an engaging protagonist, swift-thinking, relentless in battle, and driven to uphold his family’s honor. Fallible and passionate, he is a hero who is fully human, and all the more so relatable for it.
The amount of thorough research Hughes undertook for the story is evident on the page as the reader is drawn into the ancient world. The streets of Rome are as dangerous as the wilds of Britannia, and the culture of the era and the varying people groups are described in vivid detail. Hughes excels at creating memorable, rounded characters and at lacing the pages with subtle humor. While there are some anachronisms, the author manages to convey a sense of the era while still making it accessible to a modern audience.
Filled with murder, politics, and danger, the tale is a gripping, compelling read that breathes new life into an intriguing era. The Broken Lance is a tale of adventure and intrigue with an end that will leave the reader anticipating the next installment in Marcellus’s story.
Series: Britanna Romanus (Book 4)
Global Library: Fiction (Historical)
The Peacekeeper (Britannia Romanus Book 5) by Jess Steven Hughes
Marcellus, a Spanish Centurion in the Roman Army, is unsafely ensconced in tumultuous and murderous Rome, a city that can claim its victims in an instant and give its chosen one’s glory at a moment’s notice. After confronting his nemesis and former commander, Anicius Pedius Gallus, in the boisterous Roman forum, Marcellus escapes yet another close call with a “Roman ally,” and races home to the object of his desire—Eleyne, a feisty, British-Celtic princess. And one that is none too happy about being a royal hostage. But love counters betrayal in this harsh city, and the two are married against a backdrop of mysterious treacheries and secrecies. Even as the two start a family and Marcellus advances through the ranks, the evil Gallus seems to lurk in the shadows around every corner.
As a resident of Rome, Marcellus is no stranger to chaos, but when he’s thrust into the role of commander of the Watch’s Seventh Cohort and must lead a ragtag group of men to quell a bloody riot numbering in the hundreds of thousands, can he do the job? And when a new emperor takes hold of the reins, siding with scoundrels and slaughterers, can Marcellus save everyone he holds dear or will he be left alone with blood on his hands?
From the birth of Christianity to the backstabbing in the Senate, to lives of the slaves and commoners, to the behind-the-scenes of the worlds of the Roman emperors, “The Peacekeeper” will bring the duplicitous, colorful, and raw streets of Rome to brilliant life, and will leave you breathless until the final page.
Review by Author Julia Walters: The Peacekeeper – Historical Fiction’s Latest Addition – A
It’s hard to imagine what life might have been like way back when around 50 AD or so, but if we were to try, it might look a little something like Marcellus’s life in The Peacekeeper, the latest novel by author Jess Steven Hughes. Though his life would have been on the more dramatic side, for sure, Hughes’s latest addition to his Brittania Romanus series showcases ancient Romans in a dramatic and captivating way.
Rome during the extremely early years of around 40 AD – 70 AD, Rome is being ruled by a vast array of emperors who were known for their vicious governing styles. The empire had a large army, the Roman army that was one of the largest and most effective killing machines at the time. Deeply organized, trained, and properly equipped, no other military stood any sort of chance against the Romans.
This is where our protagonist, Marcellus, comes into play. He is hidden away in the thick of the Roman army as a Spanish centurion. His thrilling adventures against his main nemesis, Anicius Pedius Gallus, only add to the story. Marcellus even falls in love with Eleyne, a British/Celtic princess. His tales do not end there, however, as Marcellus’s story is truly only just beginning. This story contains everything needed for a riveting adventure but set in Ancient Rome so as to add a bit of historical education to the mix as well.
Historical fiction is so intriguing because it shows its readers that drama, mystery, and even other daily, relatable events can happen at any point in time, to anyone. People can get so caught up in their own lives and get the idea that history is simply in the past and irrelevant. However, books such as The Peacekeeper, as well as other historical fiction works, remind us that life hit people just as fast back during the days of the Roman Empire just as much as it hits us now. It connects us to a time that is thought of as long gone and insignificant. True readers, though, know that this is not true, of course. We are all human and all connected, no matter where in the world or what time period you live in.
Series: Britanna Romanus (Book 5)
Global Library: Fiction (Historical)
About The Author: Jess Steven Hughes brought his lifetime’s fascination with ancient Roman history into his debut novel, The Sign of the Eagle. The fascination continues as this has become part of a chain of books called the Britannia Romanus series. This includes The Wolf of Britannia, Part I and Part II. Another historical novel, The Broken Lance, set in Roman Britain and Imperial Rome is the first book of a duo-logy that includes The Peace Keeper.
Jess is a retired a police detective sergeant, Long Beach Police Dept, Long Beach, CA. He holds a Master’s Degree from the University of Southern California in Public Administration with a minor (my first academic love) in Ancient Mediterranean Civilizations. He also served four years United States Marine Corps (1962/66).
As a retired person, Jess believes in keeping very busy. You must stay active mentally, physically and socially. These are a few of the keys to a long and healthy retirement. Writing novels has contributed greatly to my quality of life. He lives with his wife, Liz, on a four-acre mini-farm in Eastern Washington. His hobby is outdoor model railroading. He has an outdoor model railroad that was featured in the June/July 2010 issue of the regional magazine PRIME NORTHWEST (www.primenw.com).
Check their website for the article. He was also featured in the Today segment of the Spokane Spokesman-Review, August 18, 2012, ‘The Longest Chapter’, in which he discussed his quest to become a published author. Check the following link for the article. https://www.spokesman.com/stories/2012/aug/18/the-longest-chapter/
Jess is a member of the Pacific Northwest Writers Association (PNWA) and is active in the Red Ink Fictioneers writers support group in the Spokane, WA area.
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