(Cover picture courtesy of Goodreads.)
Soldiers from varying eras and vastly different backgrounds, including the IX Legion of Rome, are snatched away from Earth at the moment of their passing, and transported to the far side of the galaxy. Thinking they have been granted a reprieve, their relief turns to horror when they discover they face a stark ultimatum:
Fight or die.
[Full disclosure: I received a free ebook copy in conjunction with the blog tour in exchange for an honest review.]
One of the things that Roman historians and various scholars debate is what happened to the Ninth Legion. One day they were flushing out rebellious tribes in Caledonia and the next they’ve vanished into thin air. Logic would point to their disappearance being caused by a total massacre of the legion and yet no bones have been found. So what happened to them? Well, Andrew P. Weston attempts his own little explanation for their disappearance as well as other mysterious warrior disappearances throughout the history of warfare.
While Marcus from the Ninth Legion is one of the characters and the book is called The IX, he’s not the main character. Instead, Weston chose to follow around 3 distinct voices. Their stories start when they were all ambushed and things get really interesting when they think they’ve been killed in action only to wake up and be told by extremely tall people that they now have to save an entire ancient civilization. That really threw me for a loop because the stark ultimatum they find, ‘fight or die’, made me think that we’d be in for a gladiator show. And that’s really the opposite of what happens. Marcus and the others, including some of the tribesmen that killed him and his compatriots have to work together to protect the remnants of an ancient civilization from the mysterious Horde. I can’t go into too much detail or I’ll spoil all of your fun, but needless to say that the Horde is not what it seems.
One of the greatest strengths of Weston’s writing is how much he thought out his world. He has created an amazing scientific world where science and history combine to great effect. The only real problem with this world is how we see it. We see it through the eyes of various peoples, including the people that brought Marcus and the others there but at the same time much of the language is very technical. You see, in order to fully appreciate Weston’s world I think you have to be a fan of hardcore science fiction. That’s fine, but I’m generally not a fan of that so I found a lot of the technical explanations either confusing or boring. But at the same time I think even fans of hardcore science fiction would get bored by some of the monologue explanations for how this or that works. If Weston had cut down a little on the explanations I also think the narrative would have flowed better. It was okay as it was, but it still could have been improved.
Overall, The IX is something I’d recommend to hardcore science fiction lovers who happen to know a little history. Even if you don’t know a little Roman history, you’ll still appreciate and enjoy all of the effort Weston put into creating his world. Because of that, although this book is quite long by most standards, it will quickly be a page-turner you don’t want to put down.
I give this book 4/5 stars.