I generally enjoy Gillian Bradshaw a lot, her novels of classical antiquity are historically accurate but still extremely readable. In this book as in several others she chooses a protagonist that is a bit of an outsider, in this case a Sarmatian who has ended up as an auxiliary to the Roman legions in Britain. The outsider perspective is a great choice, because in his struggle to understand and come to terms with unfamliar Roman ways, the protagonist explains things that a modern reader might not understand while still remaining entirely in character.
I often like Bradshaw's protagonists but for some reason Ariantes pretty quickly became one of my favorites. He was smart and honorable without being annoyingly or unrealistically perfect and yet just a little bit of an ox in ways that I found endearing. All the people in this novel felt real to me, and I liked very much that many of them changed during the course of the novel, it wasn't just the protagonist that was learning and changing but the people he was in relationships with were doing the same, so that alliances kept shifting as the people in them altered.