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"Are You a Simon Scarrow Fan?" Topic

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08 Jun 2015 12:00 p.m. PST
by Editor in Chief Bill

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Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian10 May 2011 9:53 a.m. PST

Are you a fan of this novelist?

kyoteblue10 May 2011 9:57 a.m. PST


dbander12310 May 2011 9:59 a.m. PST

Read the first four of his Rome series. Enjoyed them! On my list for the future

mad monkey 110 May 2011 10:00 a.m. PST

They're fun reads, so yes I am. His Roman series that is.

aecurtis Fezian10 May 2011 10:05 a.m. PST

No. He doesn't even match the limited skill of Cornwell.


Mapleleaf10 May 2011 10:08 a.m. PST

Love his Roman series

Have mixed feelings over his Napoleonic series "The Wellington and Napoleon quartette"

I thought The first two books on Napoleon's and Wellington's early lives and careers were well written and gave a lot of details. However the last two covering their later careers seemed rushed and skipped a lot of history.

It felt like he had spent too much time of the early lives and then was either bored or rushed when he wrote the later lives. I guess if he had gone into the same level of details in the last two that he did in the first two there would have been more than 4 books.

Stronty Girl Fezian10 May 2011 10:21 a.m. PST

Yes. have read and enjoyed the first 5 or 6 Rome ones. Must get some more out of the library.

Fat Wally10 May 2011 10:33 a.m. PST

He's OK but not in the same league as Harry Sidebottom or Conn Iggulden.

Irish Marine Supporting Member of TMP10 May 2011 10:36 a.m. PST

I really like his Rome series.

Huscarle10 May 2011 10:41 a.m. PST

Quite enjoyed his Roman series, what I call an easy read, ideal for reading while travelling.


I happen to be with kyoteblue on this one.

Timbo W10 May 2011 10:45 a.m. PST

I liked the Cato/Macro books for what they are, action-adventure in a Roman setting. Relaxing reading on international flights.

Big Red Supporting Member of TMP10 May 2011 11:08 a.m. PST

He's OK.

Personal logo Florida Tory Supporting Member of TMP10 May 2011 11:12 a.m. PST

Yes – his Roman series.


Lee Brilleaux Fezian10 May 2011 11:29 a.m. PST

There are a lot of people writing Roman fiction right now. Scarrow might be the worst. His battle scenes, like many of Cornwell's, are full of cunning tricks and bizarre turns of event rather than actual, er, plans and tactics.

Conn Iggulden's complete refusal to follow any actual historical events sets him in the same group. Really, you can't just take some names out of Wikipedia and create your own characters without any reference to established facts. That's Historical Fiction 101. It's basic to the genre, and he ignores it.

I've liked Sidebottom's series very much, and I'm about to give Ben Kane's second book a chance.

For big, sprawling epic books, read Colleen McCullough. Now there's research used in the service of a good story. The anti-Iggulden.

Much of the best Roman historical fiction around at the present is found in the mystery shelves; Lindsey Davis, David Wishart, Steven Saylor and Ruth Downie. Downie's recent books set in Hadrian-era Britain are jewels.

Frankss10 May 2011 11:51 a.m. PST

Read all the Cato and Macro, nice light read.

aecurtis Fezian10 May 2011 12:19 p.m. PST

"Scarrow might be the worst."

Don't waffle.

"For big, sprawling epic books, read Colleen McCullough. Now there's research used in the service of a good story."

Just so. But:

"The anti-Iggulden."

It taints Ms. McCullough to use his name even in that context.

"Much of the best Roman historical fiction around at the present is found in the mystery shelves; Lindsey Davis, David Wishart, Steven Saylor and Ruth Downie."

Yep. They are the sweet cream on the top of the jug of slightly soured milk. Saylor approaches McCullough in appropriate use of sources, if not yet in sheer volume.


kyoteblue10 May 2011 12:36 p.m. PST


mad monkey 110 May 2011 1:12 p.m. PST

Love the SPQR series by John Maddox Roberts. Haven't tried Ruth Downie's books yet.

Personal logo 20thmaine Supporting Member of TMP10 May 2011 1:14 p.m. PST


I read, hmm, the first 4 books of the Roman series – I enjoyed them, been meaning to pick up the newer ones. Thanks for the memory jog.

He's branched out into Napoleonics – and I'm not in the slightest intrested in reading them, I think Sharpe ruined napoleonic fiction for me…so so so boring and repetative.

CooperSteveOnTheLaptop10 May 2011 1:26 p.m. PST

I read the first Iggulden & didn't bother with more. Manfredi's SPARTAN was pretty awful & a gather film version of his LAST EMPEROR or whatever it was called was dire. Never got round to Scarrow, not from any prejudice but read very few novels, only got onto Sidebottom because of hot tip in WS&S mag article.

I notice books on Romans sell & books on vampires sell. Am planning Roman Vampire novel to make my fortune.

Never made it through a SHARPE book (Tho' liked much of the TV series) but I enjoyed STONEHENGE & Cornwell's mediaeval novels.

Toy Soldier Green10 May 2011 1:42 p.m. PST


Frothers Did It And Ran Away10 May 2011 2:17 p.m. PST

Am planning Roman Vampire novel to make my fortune.

In all seriousness I think you probably would.

Sparker10 May 2011 3:04 p.m. PST

Nothing but nothing comes close to 'Eagle in the Snow' by Wallace Breem, a writer who both knew his history and had doen his service tough, out on the NW Frontier with the Guides and in WW2 deep in the deserts and then in the French maquis.

I would recommend it to anybody with an interest in Roman military fiction, once read, never forgotten…

Harry Sidebottom comes within hailing distance, I grant you…

Pat Ripley Fezian10 May 2011 4:37 p.m. PST

fan would be too strong. its entertaining fiction. like cornwells books dont read them too close together or they get a bit samey

Warjack10 May 2011 6:34 p.m. PST


Grand Duke Natokina10 May 2011 6:35 p.m. PST

I don't read much fiction anymore.

kreoseus211 May 2011 1:57 a.m. PST

I am with Mapleleaf on this one. For Roman fiction I enjoy John Stacks work, mainly set on a Roman ship during thje first Punic war,



TMPISNAFF Supporting Member of TMP11 May 2011 2:10 a.m. PST

I've been enjoying the Empire series by Anthony Riches,
'Wounds of Honour', 'Arrows of Fury', all set on Hadrians Wall and vicinity. 3rd book 'Fortress of Spears' is just out in Hardback. Much better than Scarrow, (not just 'Sharpe' for ancients). Liked John Stack too.

Beowulf Supporting Member of TMP Fezian11 May 2011 4:33 a.m. PST


Sane Max11 May 2011 4:39 a.m. PST

When you throw a book over your shoulder and pick up a Bernard Cornwell instead so you can get some depth of character and a decent plot, you know you are in the hands of an idiot.

Half way into the first one I began to suspect someone had invented the Cornwellomatic, a computer into which you feed a Sharpe and receive in return a 'Crappicus will March Again' Novel.

After Gladiator was a hit, I decided to knock off a series of Pulp Faction books about a Roman Soldier rising through the ranks, to cash in, but gave it up when I realised I lacked any discernable talent or the ability to create believable character or plot. I have been kicking myself ever since.

No, I am not what you would call a fan


andyfb11 May 2011 5:25 a.m. PST

I've read all the Cato/Macro books and enjoyed every one.

Historical? Slightly. Action/ Adventure/ light reading/ fiction? Absolutly…can't wait for the next one.

Andy :-)

piglet11 May 2011 5:29 a.m. PST

light fluffly read, good stuff when bored in airports

Lee Brilleaux Fezian11 May 2011 8:47 a.m. PST

I am reminded of those threads on TMP where people discuss book series they don't much like, but keep reading each one as it comes out. Then they complain that it's not very good. Well, of course it's not.

Since most of us aren't restricted to buying books at the airport, why don't people seek out better writers?

Or even equally bad writers whose stuff they might actually like?

basileus6611 May 2011 9:13 a.m. PST

His early novels in the Rome series were OK. Not great, but entertaining nonetheless. However I quit when he sent his characters to Middle East. I think the last one I tried to read was The Eagle in the Sand, but quit after half book. Just bored of the same old cliches.

Now I am reading Chris Cameron's Tyrant series. I just finished Funeral Games, which ends with the battle of Gaza. I am enjoying them a lot. The author really knows his stuff and is familiar with the sources, but at the same time they don't bog down the story with unnecessary detail (that is one of the most common sins that historians make when trying to write a novel… they put so much detail that the novel reads like a scholar paper!).

CooperSteveOnTheLaptop11 May 2011 12:42 p.m. PST

I look at the entire shelf unit of Roman novels… then glance down the aisle at the entire stand of adult vampire novels… then a bit further along to the stack of adolescent vampire fiction.
And think, 'I reckon its a fair bet a good proportion of these are churned out schlock.'

CooperSteveOnTheLaptop11 May 2011 12:44 p.m. PST

alix kulic… are you in publishing? :)

Nichts20 May 2011 3:09 a.m. PST

I find them good fun, and actually I think they are getting better and better. Particularly enjoyed the latest one in Egypt, and the use of the old "Cannae" ploy! But I also agree with Saylor and Davis.


Andrew Beasley20 May 2011 11:55 a.m. PST

Read the first of the Roman set – shop (and Amazon) did not have the second. Been distracted by at least 60 other books (and a Kindle) since then – so yes / no would be my answer

Books are like figures – oh look new shiny stuff and its hard to keep on track unless I buy the whole series in one or am really hooked.

Ban Chao16 Jul 2011 2:30 p.m. PST

yeah they are are a great read

ochoin deach16 Jul 2011 8:14 p.m. PST

Bit like the Sharpe series: a good idea carried on w-a-y too long.

GurKhan21 Jul 2011 9:25 a.m. PST

I echo the praise for Sidebottom and Christian Cameron, IMHO the two best ancient historical novelists around at the moment. I thought Stack's "Ship of Rome" was absolutely dire, with no feeling for the period at all and riddled with inaccuracies (a bit like Iggulden, then). If you want something Republican Roman with ships that's a bit better written, I'd try Paul Waters' "Of Merchants & Heroes" (Second Macedonian War).

As to Scarrow, well, somewhere in the middle: competent but a bit forumlaic, neither great nor dire. I'll buy them from charity shops, but not spend the full price.


Willtij21 Jul 2011 7:16 p.m. PST

I have read several of the Cato/Macro series and have enjoyed them. On a scale of 1-10 a 5.5 or so.

Gary Flack22 Jul 2011 4:56 a.m. PST

Read the first one – not my cup of tea – declined the rest.

There are far too many good books out there to waste what precious little of my life remains reading anything that doesn't even make a 9 on the scale

Mick A22 Jul 2011 1:06 p.m. PST

I like the Roman books. No they aren't historically accurate but I don't read them for that, I read them for entertainment…


Prince Lupus24 Jul 2011 2:35 p.m. PST

No, quite like Sidebottom and Leckie tho'.

stenicplus25 Jul 2011 3:52 a.m. PST

Read the first few and enjoyed them, summer holiday reading on the beach. I then did the classic and continued to read the read all the time slightly finding each one worse then the previous one. I'll not buy another.

Have just picked up the Rosemary Sutcliffe Roman Britain novels after recommendations here, enjoying them so far, thanks Allen et al.

Valator25 Jul 2011 9:17 p.m. PST

I tried to get through a Scarrow book but topped and reread a Gotrek novel instead. I don't even really like the Gotrek novels…

sumerandakkad18 Nov 2011 2:44 p.m. PST

Agrre with Anthony Riches and Scarrow, both good reads. Also like Sam Barone for the Akkadian series.
Harry Sidebottom for Rome.
Robert Low for his Viking.

keleustes19 Nov 2011 9:16 a.m. PST

I have read a few of the Macro/Cato novel I enjoyed them but don't pretend they are more historical than fiction. Good summer time reading. I have just finished John Stack's trilogy on the 1st Punic War -- Ship of Rome, Captain of Rome and Master of Rome -- Enjoyable but in the same vein

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