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Under the Eagle: A Tale of Military Adventure and Reckless Heroism with the Roman Legions Paperback – December 6, 2002
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Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
“...spectacular tale of intrigue, adventure, and glory in the Roman legions ... This enthralling historical drama is distinguished by its meticulously detailed portrayal of life in the mighty Roman army.” ―Booklist
“A warmly welcome sequel looks assured.” ―Kirkus Reviews
Top Customer Reviews
If you are looking for a fast read with good action when it happens combined with an overlay of mystery and political intrigue, you can enjoy this book. If you are looking for the depth of a "Tides of War," you won't find it here.
One particular aspect that I found impressive, was Scarrow's grasp of the position of the army on the political scene. They were not just there to fight the enemy, the legions decided who would be emperor, and the emperors knew it. Thus the intrigue of the sub-plot fleshes out the representation of life in the Roman army and made this a first rate page-turner.
I'm already reading the second book, The Eagle's Conquest, and I have so say it is even better than this novel; and that, my friends is no small achievement. I have to wonder about the complaints by other reviewers. Scarrow is not out to win a Pulitzer (or whatever they have in the UK). He is writing action adventure, and he does it 'bloody' well. Frankly I'd rather read this kind of book than any of the posturing 'literary' garbage that imposes itself on you from the shelves of bookstores. So ignore the gripes of some of the other reviewers and treat yourself to the huge pleasure of a wonderful new series of novels.
Simon Scarrow does a wonderful job bringing history to life through the exploits of new recruit and optio Quintus Licinius Cato--and his centurion, Lucius Cornelius Macro. These two fictional characters weave a credible story by their interaction with fictionalized versions of Vitellius, Vespasian and his wife Flavia, and Narcissus--freedman, secretary and confidant of the Emperor Claudius.
I look forward to reading further novels by this author as they make their way into American publication, and highly recommend this work of fiction for anyone with interest in this part of history. You might also enjoy the "Roma Sub Rosa" series by Steven Saylor and the "SPQR" series by John Maddox Roberts.
"Under the Eagle" does not quite reach the height of its potential, mostly because it is obviously the first in a series of novels. Its action is rather episodic and this detracts from the over-all story Scarrow is trying to set up. It would have been better to have begun the series with a story that could be writ large as the novels appear. Instead, what we have is a stuttering start that has one action set piece that dominates the first two thirds of the novel and a political sub-plot that sits a little awkwardly. The aim of the major set piece is apparent, drawing out the personalities and abilities of the main characters, Cato and Macro. However, it simply takes too long and the story begins to lose impetus.
Despite these criticisms, I did actually enjoy this novel. It was a good exciting read, and Scarrow has a tremendous talent at describing classical battle with grit and genuine excitement. The workings of a Roman Legion are nicely done, as the reader is not overwhelmed with information and the characters are well presented.
Another advantage to this novel is the fact that it has been written in modern vernacular. This makes it feel contemporary, but also more real. The Roman soldiers speak as soldiers, and not having them speak in quasi-Latin is a good move by the author.
Obviously Scarrow hopes Macro and Cato will march alongside Sharpe and Harper, Aubrey and Maturin et al in the ranks of literary military duos, but at this stage it is too early to say if these two will reach such lofty company.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
remided me way too much of my days in bootcamp. drill instructors…? really? this is supposed to be 2000 years ago. instead the author bases legions off modern military. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Jarrod T.
Fun and interesting story. Plenty of historical detail to make it believable. I'm looking forward to continuing the series. The end.Published 6 months ago by John Hoffmann
It was a fast and good read. Macro and Cato were good and interesting character, however, after reading Douglas Jackson series, nothing is really interesting.Published 7 months ago by Edyta Brzeczkowska