THE EMPEROR'S AXE, by Alex Gough

Book #3 in a wide-ranging, action-packed series: The fate of Rome, and thousands of lives, rests on the shoulders of one man, an agent of a murderous Emperor who knows no boundaries. Bloodthirsty and paranoid, Emperor Caracalla orders Silus and his sidekick, members of an elite imperial guard, to track down a man rumored to be the Emperor’s child. Destined to be the puppet ruler of a new Eastern Empire, the supposed ruler will be a mortal threat to Caracalla. Silus knows his duty even though he often hates what he must do, especially when it involves his faithful but errant sidekick. At times violent but never gratuitous. A fine look at an era through the eyes of an ordinary man who is given life-and-death authority he doesn't want and who manages to retain his humanity in a milieu of inhumanity. This is an entertaining series showcasing what our present era rarely offers in an Imperial Roman-era tale: an ordinary man tasked with extraordinary duties. Thanks to NetGalley for an advance copy.