Book Review: Rubicon – A HWA Short Story Collection

Author(s): Various
Publisher: Sharpe Books (2019)
ISBN: 978-1080897018

Looking for your next favourite Roman novel? New to the genre and don’t know where to start? Look no further. Sharpe Books just released a collection in collaboration with the Historical Writers’ Association - Rubicon, a taster of ten Roman short stories set in various periods throughout the empire. It is a quick read at just under 200 pages. In addition to this colourful array of Roman fiction, each story concludes with an author interview. An informal ‘meet and greet’ with the person behind the pen. Readers get to find out a little more about each author, what inspired them to write about this period, what makes Roman fiction interesting, and of course, how they found their way to writing about ancient Rome. 

All the stories are riveting but, naturally, I had a few personal favourites. Gordon Doherty’s fast paced, gory battle tale centred around fathers and sons in, Eagles in the Desert was intense and ominous. Ruth Downie’s introduction of the reluctant doctor, Gaius Petreius Ruso, who gets to the bottom of a crime in Alter Ego was also immensely enjoyable; and I liked the dry humour peppered throughout the story. Richard Foreman brings us the daring Rufus Varro, a spy who narrowly escapes a close call in the service of Marcus Agrippa in A Brief Affair. Peter Tonkin’s, The Roman, was one of my absolute favourites, a standout tale where we get a slave’s perspective on the capture of Julius Caesar by Cilician pirates.

You will be hard pressed to come away from this collection without a favourite; Rubicon has something for everyone, military prowess, spies, sex, adventure, and comedy. It’s a great series for finding your next favourite author and a fantastic introduction to historical fiction set in the Roman period.

For more information, please visit: Sharpe Books

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