Short Fiction Friday: The Flames of Cyzicus

The Flames of Cyzicus by Nick Brown, Agent of Rome #1.5

Set between the events of 'The Siege' and 'The Imperial Banner', this compelling short story follows imperial agent Cassius Corbulo as he investigates a mysterious series of fires. 

Ever since having had the pleasure of reading The Siege, the first book in Nick's Brown Historical Fantasy series Agent of Rome, I have been hooked. Over the time with The Black Stone and The Far Shore I have only come to like this series more. When it comes to Historical Roman Fiction Nick Brown is definitely the author to follow. 

The two short stories so far that featured in this universe all focused on different characters, with The Flames of Cyzicus, Nick Brown puts the focus on Cassius Corbulo and how he became the man that we see in his books. Which is a big plus for me as the protagonist Cassius Corbulo is just spot and definitely one of my favorites.

The story of The Flames of Cyzicus picks up in between the events of The Siege and The Imperial Banner. In The Siege Cassius got a promotion, he has gained a lot of responsibilities. One day Cassius finds himself in the city of Cyzicus located in Anatolia (currently better known as Turkey). Here Cassius is charged with making sure everything is in tip top shape for when a Legion of Rome comes for a visit. Well just as when Cassius thought this would be an easy task, trouble comes knocking on his door. In the middle of the night several granaries go up in smoke, the losses though minor at the start become much more significant at the long run. If Cassius wants to have anything left he has to get into action as soon as possible. Luckily Cassius has been trained to be a frumentarii, Rome's secret service so he knows his way around such things. Cassius starts to ask the locals questions and with their cooperation he is able to get a lead, a lead linking to Vulcan the Roman god of fire. Now here the story takes a turn, up until now it was a lot of investigation and talk, but when Cassius meet the person who is responsible. WOW. I think this is how an such a person think about fires like: ‘They think the water will save them,’ hissed Lykourgos. ‘But the flames will always return, they will cover everything, they will-’. It's only great to see Cassius response, ending with mad bastard. 

Once again Nick Brown has delivered a great story, he clearly proves that you dont need 300+ pages to write a story but that he can deliver one with the same impact with only 30ish pages. Just in the first few paragraphs of the story I felt at home the city of Cyzicus, it felt authentic. I know the fifth book in the Agent of Rome series is published this summer but how I wished I had it waiting to be read at this moment. Nick Brown is definitely one of my favorite historical authors out there. If you haven't read one of his stories so far, be ashamed/  


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