The Iron Hand of Mars

Falco, Book 4
Narrated by: Gordon Griffin
Series: Marcus Didius Falco, Book 4
Length: 12 hrs and 10 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (12 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

"I’ve always wanted to see something of the Empire outside Rome."

AD 71. Germania Libera: dark, dripping forests inhabited by bloodthirsty barbarians and legendary wild beasts, a furious prophetess who terrorises Rome, and the ghostly spirits of slaughtered Roman legionaries.

Enter Falco, an Imperial agent on a special mission: to find the absconding commander of a legion whose loyalty is suspect. Easier said than done, thinks Falco as he makes his uneasy way down the Rhenus, trying to forget that back in sunny Rome his girlfriend, Helena Justina, is being hotly pursued by Titus Caesar. His mood is not improved when he discovers his only allies are a woefully inadequate bunch of recruits, their embittered centurion, a rogue dog, and its innocent young master - just the right kind of support for an agent unwillingly trying to tame the Celtic hordes.

©1992 Lindsey Davis (P)2015 Audible, Ltd.

What listeners say about The Iron Hand of Mars

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    5 out of 5 stars
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These are growing on me more and more

I don’t know if this episode - which I rated 5 stars for everything - is better than the earlier ones that did not get 5 starts from me across the board is really better, but I am definitely totally hooked and enjoyed every minute. I do speed up the narration to 1.25, as I find it a bit slow at the regular speed. The slightly sped up gives everything Falco says a certain urgency, and I think it fits the narrative totally. Why is there no TV series for these stories? It would be fun!

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The female eye

This is an early Falco novell which I missed reading when it arrived. As as novell it is well written, well researched and as a story well crafted, but this novell has two major drawbacks:
The story is not a detective story in Roman clothing. Interesting at it was to read, the story did not deliver what I have come to expect and appreciate from Lindsey Davis.
The second drawback is the odd perspective, which I seen in many of Davis' books but which has vanished with the Alba subseries. Davis is writing in first person with Didius Falco doing all the interaction. But it is a modern, female, middle aged English woman doing the writting and it does not really work here. Didius Falco is some idealized contemporary man without any believable inner machinery. Had he been a true Roman he would have been the unchallanged and unrivalled master of his houselhold. His woman could hope for a respecful treatment, but the sexual mores was completely differentat during that time. Marcus can sexually use and abuse all his householders, slaves, freemen as well as animals. Without any missgivings about this from anyone. He legally could kill his own offspring or slaves (no need to hide a dead slave under the bedroom floor there, as it happens in the story. Nor would his teenage girls behave in such a modern manner) In this book, the distance to the Rome of antiquity is too large and the story suffers. In later books these things have become less obvious, but the sickening smell of a Roman man whipped by his woman remains all over the series in a blatantly gendered and ahistoric missconception of what a man is. A female Eye so to say has written this.

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  • Roberta
  • 09-29-15

Shame about the narrator!

Love the books...Bring back Christian Rodska! Please! He has a much more sympathetic voice for the character and he shifts back into pompous mode after every break in the narration. If I didn't love Falco so much I would not have bought the books and I don't enjoy listening with gritted teeth.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Claire Kendall-Price
  • 06-15-15

Cold, wet and dull

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

Christian Rodska narrating, and a some sun, warmth and joviality. Too full of long historical tracts about various legions of the Roman Army. Set n Germany inthe weather is always wet, cold, raining, drizzly, dank and depressing.

What will your next listen be?

A Falco set back in Rome.

What didn’t you like about Gordon Griffin’s performance?

He does not sound lke Falco, as he is not a cheeky chap who uses his charm and wit to get results.

If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from The Iron Hand of Mars?

I would cut down the length of the historical descriptions from the start

Any additional comments?

I miss Christian Rodska!

1 person found this helpful

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  • Prudence Magee
  • 04-12-15

Definitely worth getting if you are a Falco fan

Any additional comments?

It may not be read by Christian Rodska but is really well read and I will be getting the others read by Gordan Griffin.

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  • KH
  • 07-12-20

Great story.

the story is as you would expect, very engaging. However the narrator is not right for the story.

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  • Janet
  • 06-28-20

Another good Roman yarn

I love this series. I am transported immediately back into Roman civilisation, and have the added bonus of criminal investigation. Although at times I feel that real Roman soldiers might have been more hard bitten and less cosy, I think some of this tone is down to the narrator. As this episode involves significant travel to Germania, this sparked quite a lot of research into roman maps and towns, which added to the interest.
Perhaps, if Falco did not have such a soft human centre I might not feel as much sympathy for him and his family and friends, and it is this human interest which keeps me hooked; something I found deplorably lacking in school history lessons.

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  • Sarah
  • 05-12-20

Fun story but annoying narrator

I listened to the first of this series with a very different narrator. For me, his Falco was spot on - a working class lad with wit and charm. And he brought the other characters, drama and comedy to life so vividly I was dying to listen to the next one. Unfortunately I found myself at a loss with the new choice of narrator. His Falco sounds like an upper middle class gent in his 70s. And sadly so does everyone else. Even the women and children. Stranger still is his odd intonations and inflections. Terrible comic timing and choices of breath. His performance feels weird - almost dated. As though it’s how he believes the Romans might have sounded.
I was so sorry to discover he is the same narrator for the rest of the books. I tenaciously ploughed through more (I love the stories so much), got irritated so took a long break and came back to them again. But I confess myself beaten. As this narrator has been doing it for a while now I can only surmise that it’s just me. Fair enough - but I’m afraid I can’t be doing that again. I actually got quite cross listening to this one. May have to just read them the old fashioned way!

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  • Miss
  • 04-16-19

Great characters and plot

The historical references are very good, embedded as they are in a multi-stranded plot with the wonderful characters from the Falco series. Prefer Christian Rodska to read these books as he gives a more authentic impression of Falco.

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  • cause-way
  • 06-27-18

The usual quality recording

I've listened to all the Falco novels several times and love the plots, the characters and the wit. This one is of the usual quality - excellent.

I find I enjoy Gordon Griffin just as much as Christian Rodska. I don't know what the criticism is about. They are both brilliant!

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  • David Holt
  • 11-08-17

Great Read

The early Falco books are, in my opinion, the best. Once you have got your head round the characters this must rate as the best of the best. The "rescue scene" in the forest is just breath taking, I listened to it several times

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  • Mary Carnegie
  • 12-18-15

Narrator not well cast.

Strange pronunciation of Latin words and names and has great difficulty in varying voices from bland Estuary English.
Story is good, though, and important to continuing Falco saga.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 04-02-19

Engrossing

Wonderfully plotted and had me gripped to the last word. Very good characterisation by the narrator. Loving this series