Book Review: The Leopard Vanguard by T.A. Uner

Tome OneTitle: The Leopard Vanguard

Author: T.A. Uner

Genre: Historical Fantasy

Age Group: Adult

Rating: 4 stars

Purchase: Amazon

Review copy provided by Enchanted Book Promotions in exchange for an honest review.

Set during the early years of the reign of the Mad Emperor Caligula,this first installment of the Leopard King Saga introduces us to Tullus, a gifted Roman Centurion who resigns his elite position in the Praetorian Guard to join a troupe of circus performers and learn more about his hidden magical talents. Along with his new partner, a magical Leopardess named Celestra, he re-invents himself as The Leopard King, the most famous entertainer in all the Roman Empire. But when Tullus’ friend and Circus Ringmaster, Paullus Gabinius, is killed, Tullus and Celestra find themselves immersed in political intrigue and up against Paullus’ killers. Their struggle to avenge Paullus will also cause them to cross paths with corrupt Roman politicians, who know Paullus’ deadly secret-which has the power to destroy the Roman Empire.

The moment the synopsis of The Leopard Vanguard mentioned the Roman Empire and Caligula, I knew I had to read this one. And it even has tons of Latin! I took Latin classes at college, and I’m a huge fan of the Roman Empire and the matching era, so of course I wanted to dive into the world of the Leopard King Saga. It certainly didn’t dissapoint.

We’re introduced to Tullus, a Roman Centurion has only recently been promoted to be a member of the Praetorian Guard, but just a few months later, he already wants to resign, and start a new life with a woman he fell in love with. Things don’t go as planned though, and Tullus ends up setting out ofr his new life all on his own. He decides to join the circus and learn more about his magical talents. He befriends a man named Paullus, the circus ringmaster, and a magical leopardess Celestra who becomes his new partner in the circus. Tullus re-invents himself as the Leopard King, a famous entertainer.

But then, Paullus is killed, and the other members of the circus swear they’ll figure out who was behind the murder. Before he very well realizes it, Tullus and Celestra are immersed in layers of polictical intrigue, and have to face Paulllus’ killers, while they search for a deadly secret with the power to destroy the Empire.

I pride myself on my knowledge about the Roman Empire thanks to hours and hours of classes on the subject, but the knowledge T.A. Uner possesses about that era, is truly astonishing. Everything works: from the corruption, the political intrigue, to the day-to-day tasks. The portrayal is so accurate it’s almost scary, and I could certainly imagine living in that era along with Tullus, Celestra and everyone else.

It’s the little details that make this book shine, like the historical accuracy, the Latin, the names. It all works well – so bonus points for excellent world building.

The plot and characters are solid too, and some of them turned out to be quite surprising, showing more depth than I’d thought at first, or showing their hidden colors as the book progressed. The writing was good too, slightly wordy at the start but that seems to match the genre (with it being fantasy), so no real complaints there either.

I look forward to reading the sequel. Highly recommended to anyone who’s a fan of the Roman Empire.

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