Saturday 2 February 2019

#BookReview — Victus: The Civilis Saga #1 by Peter Baggott #Historical Fiction #AncientRome @baggott_scot

The Civilis Saga #1
By Peter Baggott


Victus Antonius Claudian, sadist and rake seeks fame and fortune from his new mentor the Praetorian Commander and Ruler of Rome, Sejanus. With his only sister Porcia, he plans to elevate himself in Rome’s society through a well-placed marriage.

The Civilis menfolk consist of a Senator, Lictus, his only son Artorius, Primus Pila of the 1st Century 1st Cohort of the 2nd Augusta Legion, and two grandsons Cassius and Marcus.

Fate or fortune brings Cassius and Porcia together with an inevitable consequence. On the same day as Victus is sent north by his mentor Sejanus to raise support amongst the Northern Legions for his cause, to become Caesar, he finds his sister is pregnant. In his search for the father of his sister’s child he takes revenge on him and is protected by his mentor.

The Civilis’ turn to Tiberius for justice, as does the senate against Sejanus’ rule. Sejanus is denounced by Tiberius, who demands that the Senate sentence Sejanus.

Victus’ world implodes. He has his fortune, but now he is a hunted man and the only way back out of his exile is to remove the Civilis family and friends.

Commanding, compulsive and utterly captivating.

Lucius Aelius Sejanus — commander of the Praetorian Guard and confidant of Emperor Tiberius — needs a new Camp Prefect of the Guard. Sejanus is looking for a man who is ruthless and a stickler for discipline. He also needs this man to act as his senior speculator.

Sejanus is secure in his position of power. There is only one other in the Empire that is more powerful than he is and that is the Emperor himself. Ambition drives Sejanus, and now he wants what Tiberius has.

Victus Antonius Claudian could very well be the man that Sejanus has been looking for. Victus’ reputation proceeds him. He is a ruthless, and cruel man. He is also very ambitious, much like his sponsor. With his new position as Camp Prefect of the Guard, he is determined to see his family rise to greatness. His younger sister, Porcia, could help him achieve such greatness. All he has to do is marry her to a wealthy, influential Roman.

Unlike her brother, Porcia is a gentle soul who has fallen in love with Senator Lictus’ grandson. Unfortunately, such a romance is doomed from the beginning, but Porcia does not care for she is devoted to Cassius and she is expecting his baby.

With his new position, Victus feels invincible. No one can touch him. No one can stop him. Nothing, not even his sister, will get in his way. Power and wealth are his for the taking.

From a forest clearing in the south of Mogontiacum in Germania to the Temple of Concord in the ancient city of Rome, Victus: The Civilis Saga #1 by Peter Baggott is an example of historical fiction at its very best.

Baggott has tread with scrupulous care when portraying the history of this time. Baggott does not present us with a Hollywood gilded Rome, but instead, he offers his interpretation of a very real one. Baggott has a great novelist eye for human fragility, and nothing is beyond his telling. Reading this book was like going back in time with a very competent tour guide. The streets of Rome came alive under Baggott’s masterful scholarship. One could almost smell the stench coming off the River Tiber, as well as the more appetising smell of freshly baked pies sold in the market. Nothing is left to the imagination either, Baggott takes us to brothels, barracks, and the steep steps of the Temple of Concord. We run alongside street urchins, thugs, soldiers, spies, and of course, the endearing Civilis’ family. When historical fiction is written in this way, there is no such thing as too much! This is a story that threatens to mesmerise.

There are some very memorable characters in this book, and all have their own stories to tell. I was fascinated by Corvus, who lost his sight while in the service of Rome. He may be blind, but he sees more than most.

In particular, I enjoyed reading about Marcus, the youngest grandson of Senator Lictus. His journey to manhood is an interesting one. His relationship with Tia was beautiful to behold. Theirs is also a forbidden love, but Marcus is determined to keep Tia safe at all costs. I could not help but like Marcus. He is such a wonderfully compassionate young man.

Another character worthy of mention is Artorius Primus Pila, Senator Lictus’ son and Marcus’ father. Artorius’ story really comes into its own in the latter half of this book. Like his father and son, Artorius was a character I adored. He is honourable, brave and above all fiercely loyal to his Emperor and to his family.

Baggott’s portrayal of his antagonist was masterfully done. Victus is a powerfully sadistic character which drove this story forward. What makes Victus so interesting is that he is very intelligent, and his actions, for the most part, are coldly calculated, which make for a very chilling read.

The narrative is incredibly fast-paced with non-stop action. One thing is for sure, Baggott’s writing can never be accused of being dull! The historical backdrop has been painstakingly researched, and the story was absolutely riveting. Victus: The Civilis Saga #1 is not only a very bold book, but it is also immensely successful — it is entertaining, gripping, and very hard to put down. If you are looking for a great adventure with unforgettable characters, then look no further, this is the book for you.

I Highly Recommend.

Review by Mary Anne Yarde.
The Coffee Pot Book Club.

Peter Baggott

Peter Baggott is a debut author with a deep interest in Roman history. He has served in three uniformed employments and is very familiar with Roman tactics which are still used in everyday life: shield tactics and skills – testudo being much used in the Police and Prison Service.

Peter chose for his writing this historical genre because of his innate interest in the subject and having been born in the Roman city of Lindvm, modern day Lincoln.

In his teens, on a daily basis, while delivering newspapers, Peter traversed the exposed Roman remains from The Steep to the Newport Arch, the only full Roman archway in Great Britain.

While working in a local hotel close to the ruins he utilised this knowledge to become a self-appointed guide to visitors from far and wide and has continued to keep up to date with local finds. There are many stories surrounding the infamous Legio IX Hispana, who were based in Lindvm, their disappearance has inspired his continuing interest in all things Roman.

Peter has also visited numerous Roman sites, both in the UK and in Europe and has used original Roman historical sources of Tacitus, Suetonius and Dio, Google Maps for distancing and location, Wikipedia and several archaeological online sources. Thus, he tries to keep abreast with new finds upgrading his work accordingly.

Connect with Peter: WebsiteTwitter


  1. Congratulations on your award! Your book sounds very intriguing.

  2. Congratulations, Peter!


See you on your next coffee break!
Take Care,
Mary Anne xxx