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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon May 10, 2008
This, the 8th novel in the series, begins with the destruction of a Roman cohort by the Parthians, sworn enemies of Rome and a threat to its eastern province Syria. Centurions Macro and Cato are sent by the scheming "real power behind the throne of Emperor Claudius" Narcissus to spy on one of Rome's more ambitious generals, Cassius Longinus, Governor of Syria.

The other reviewers here have written enough about this novel to give anyone curious about it an idea of its plot. I won't add to what has already been said. Suffice it to say, this is another good read about the adventures, battles, and friendship of Roman soldiers Macro and Cato. I admit that I gave this book in the series only 4 stars instead of 5 because I think it wasn't as exciting or as full of the riveting " will they be saved in the nick of time" desperation that was so well-written by Simon Scarrow in the other books...but that's just my opinion. If you are looking for a fast paced book to take along with you to the beach on a summer's day, you can't go wrong with this. I recommend it highly. Newcomers to the "Eagle" series should first read UNDER THE EAGLE...the book that started it all. Enjoy!
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34 of 37 people found the following review helpful
on December 27, 2007
Simon Scarrow is a teacher at a Sixth Form College. He has run a Roman History programme that takes parties of students to a number of sites and museums across Britain and I assume that while doing this he gleans lots of useful information for his books on the Roman Centurions Macro and Cato.

This is the eighth book in a series started seven years ago and Cato the young boy who left the confines of the Palace in Rome and entered the army as an Optio (second in command to a Centurion) has now matured into a man, moulded in the image of his friend and mentor Macro. Both men are battle hardened Centurions, though Macro has a dozen years on Cato. The have fought together in Britain and other parts of the Roman Empire.

Macro and Cato become embroiled in the fight to stabilise what is to all intents and purposes a neutral
Kingdom, Palmyra. As usual wherever the pair go trouble follows close behind and it is not long before the pair of them are engaged in trying to stop the forces of one of Rome's long standing enemies, Parthia, who having heard of Rome's presence in Palmyra decide it will be in their own best interest if they also send a force into the kingdom.

Macro and Cato are old friends to the readers of Simon Scarrow's books and their adventures are interesting and exciting, particularly for those interested in all things Roman and in particular the workings and make-up of the Roman Legions.
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20 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on December 22, 2007
{review contains spoilers}

Fresh after their involvement with the Jews in the previous book, Roman soldiers Macro and Cato were involved in a brand new military adventure, this time in the kingdom of Palmyra, a desert state between Roman occupied Syria and the Parthian empire. The Roman Emperor wanted Palmyra as a buffer between them and the Parthians. Thus when a civil war erupted in Palmyra with the king besieged in his oasis fortress, the Roman governor of Syria were obligated to send soldiers to help. An advance detachment of the Tenth Legion led by Macro, and auxiliaries Second Illyrian cohort led by Cato, who was acting Prefect, were despatched to help the besieged king while the main army were to follow later.

In true, Scallow style, the story is fast moving with enough details about Roman military life to be interesting. The heavily armoured legionnaires and the lighter armoured auxiliaries were involved with fast marches, being besieged in a fortress and desert warfare against the Parthians. It is interesting to note that the Roman's technique of phalanx was not so effective against the Parthians who rode horses and were expert archers. The slower moving Romans were like sitting ducks. Apparently this unequal warfare led to the historical military loss of armies of General Crassus and later of Mark Anthony when they fought against the Parthians, many years before the time of this novel. The Roman legions have not learnt from their defeat.

In terms of character development, Cato fell in love with the ambassador's daughter and was pledged to marry when they return to Rome. Another good book for easy reading on military warfare and fighting men.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on April 5, 2008
This was a thoroughly enjoyable novel that was hard to put down. After reading the whole series, I kind of know what's going to happen. For one thing, the leadership is always lousy, and the heroes have to survive in spite of it all. But you know what? I like the stories anyway because the main characters are so interesting and lovable. I wish the stories were twice as long.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on July 3, 2008
Centurion is the eighth book of the Cato/Marco series about two centurions serving in the Roman Army during the time of Emperor Claudius. Anyone who have read any book of this series will immediately get into this book. (If you haven't read any book of this series, read Under the Eagle, the first of the series and work your way up to this book.) Once more, our two heroes faced enemies on both fronts, Roman side as well as from the Parthian Empire who was dueling Rome for control of the Middle East as we know it today. Caught in the middle is the buffer trading Kingdom of Palmyra where civil war reigned between elements friendly to Rome and those of the Parthian Empire. Once more our heroes were asked to resolve this nasty situation.

I have often regarded Simon Scarrow as "Bernard Cornwall light" type of author since many of his books are fast moving, superficial and lightweight. Once you read one Scarrow book, rest follow into the familiar pattern. Scarrow writes good enough but never has the substance that make Cornwall books superior. However, this book proves to be one of Scarrow's better efforts. While the book still moves pretty fast, there were more character development written in, a better and interesting story as well as a romance angle for Cato. For these reasons, the book proves to be a page burner and anyone who are into this series will find this book bit hard to put down.

Book come highly recommended for any one who is into this series and seeking lightweight reading material. Its an eighth book in this series so author will presumed that you know Cato and Marco as well as he does.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on August 12, 2014
Having read all of Scarrow's books as they have been released, I felt this one was a major uptick from his past 2-3. Perhaps I am not a big fan of Middle Eastern action, I miss Britannia or both, but this was actually very good compared to the Parthian novels and the rebellion on Crete.

Still worried that Cato's marriage will get in the way of plot lines. I guess we shall see.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on June 16, 2009
Again, I LOVE Simon Scarrow... in the manly way of course :-)
Extremely well written and very well paced.
I read his work before bed, and enjoy the carry-over into dreamtime!

Highly recommend his work to anyone who is interested in the ROman EMpire.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon May 14, 2011
Because I started with this book and while starting in the middle of a series have never and never will bother me I do wish I had some context as to who these characters were. My impressions generally were favorable I read a lot of historical fiction and while Mr. Scarrow isn't as established as John Maddox Roberts or Stephen Saylor I wasn't disappointed either. The style reminds me of Bernard Cornwell before he went Hollywood nothing groundbreaking but a book that doesn't pretend to be anything other then what it is a legionary story told from the point of view of the soldiers.
Overall-While there are a few things that can grate on the nerves for example who knew that Roman Legionaries spoke in 20th century British profanity I liked this installment enough to buy the others that the bookstore had on the shelves. I don't think anyone who is willing to cut an author a little slack will be disappointed
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on February 22, 2009
Scarrow is a first-rate historical novelist. Buy all of the books in this series if you like historical fiction and Roman era stuff. It's great fun reading Roman rankers use contemporary British vernacular like "We're in the s*** now!", "You old tosser!", etc. Good fun.
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on August 17, 2011
After a short break it's time to return to Macro and Cato. Still in the desert, the 2nd Illyrian has moved closer to Damascus when the Governor of Syria receives word that a Parthian forces is headed to to Palmyra, a protectorate of Rome's. The governor sends two centuries, the 2nd Illyrian and a century from the 10th Legion to help the Palmyrians hold their city until the might of Rome can be mustered to fight the Parthians. Oh, did I mention that Macro has been promoted to command the century from the 10th Legion after that century had a fight with the 2nd Illyrian. Looks like Cassius Longinus can get rid of Cato and Macro (you have to read The Eagle in the Sand to understand that one) and further his political career.

Mr. Scarrow continues to amaze me with how he breathes life into the Macro and Cato series. The books are wonderful because they follow a nice simple formula but rather than staying with the simple, cute and predictable, Mr. Scarrow has been continually evolving Cato and more slowly Macro (after all, Macro's a man in his 30's). For Cato the continuing change is his advancement in rank and his development as a leader; in Macro's case his development has been more in becoming less of a soldier all the time and more human, especially when it comes to Cato. Merging this with the excitement of two units who have bad blood between them, to break a siege and possibly endure one, and then possibly face the Parthian army, something that chills the bones of old Roman soldiers after Rome's defeat by Parthia in 53BC. With all these factors this one is a very solid 4 star book. I might have considered it a candidate for 5 but for the sappy part and the fact that Mr. Scarrow pushed it a little far with the governor and his foolishness. Nice that Macro and Cato can twist it into the governor a little more but not really needed I think.
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