Book Review – The Exiled by David Barbaree – Historical Fiction

Here’s the blurb:

“A.D. 79. Parthia is gripped by civil war. One king vying for the throne, desperate for help, welcomes an alliance from an unlikely source: a man claiming to be Nero, the dethroned Roman emperor.

Meanwhile, young Gaius wishes he could spend his summer on the Bay of Naples amongst his books. Instead Pliny, the famous admiral, has sent him to befriend the nephew of Ulpius, the mysterious blind senator from Spain. A man Pliny does not trust.

But when a Parthian hostage is nearly killed, days before Parthian emissaries are expected, and as rumours of the False Nero entering the land reaches Rome, Gaius and Pliny race to learn how these events are connected.

As the political intrigue comes to a head, something happens that only the mysterious clairvoyant Sibyl could have foreseen: Mount Vesuvius erupts, and black ash fills the sky . . .”

It was always going to be a big task to produce a novel quite as good as Deposed (which was excellent and fully worthy of five stars.)

The Exiled does a good job of trying to be as good as the first book, but somehow, and despite, or perhaps because of, the sheer amount of political intrigue going on, it does not match up to the sheer audacity of Deposed. Indeed, for quite a large swathe of the book, I was wondering if it was a standalone novel and not at all related to Deposed. But, I pressed on, hopeful that it would improve.
And it did. From about 50% the book picks up and the seemingly disparate events begin to fall into place, and the careful plotting and planning of the book begin to reveal themselves.
While some of the characters remain underdeveloped, and some of the chapters feel ‘too thin,’ it can’t be denied that the story is both clever and solidly told, and the ending is unexpected.
I hope that this series continues.
Thank you for my review copy Netgalley.

The Exiled was released on 27th June 2019 and is available from here;

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