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on June 3, 2017
Enjoyable read, but dialogue is a bit lightweight. Seems a tad sophomoric. Found myself skimming paragraphs just to get to the point. I would NEVER have done that with a Cornwell novel. Read for fun. But don't expect the engrossed experience of "falling into the book".

I'm on vacation and downloaded the first three books in anticipation of finding another Bernard Cornwell. These are "okay" but I can easily put them down and not pick them back up for days. They are not painful to read, but I often think to myself , "This is kinda silly!"

Hope these get better. I've got 2 more of these novels to read before I decide to purchase the 4th installment. I really WANT to like them. I hungry for a great series.
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VINE VOICEon April 29, 2012

Imagine working as a house servant in the Roman Emperors's Mansion for most of your life and suddenly finding yourself enrolled in the Roman Legion. You have no training or experience, yet due to a political maneuver, you begin as second in command to a Centurion who leads 80 men into battle.

Quintus Licinius Cato, a new recruit who was conscripted into the Second Legion (the toughest Legion in the Roman army), learned upon arrival that the Emperor had ordered he be a Centurion. Titus Flavius Sabinus Vespasian, Commander or Legate of the Second Legion, decided to appoint Cato as Optio, the second in command to a Centurion. Cato pleaded with his Centurion, Lucius Cornelius Macro, to be a regular foot soldier, but Macro was unwilling to change an imperial directive.

Under the Eagle is a historical novel about the Roman Legions in the first century A.D. The Second Legion is stationed in Gaul where they guard the Rhine river (Rome's northeastern border). Several months after Cato arrives the Second Legion is ordered to deploy to the shore of the Atlantic Ocean to join an army preparing to invade Britain.

Most of the events in this novel occur while Cato is training to be a legionnaire, and during the preparations for the invasion. The book details the training program endured by all new recruits, and exposes the conditions of life with the legions. Under The Eagle explains the ranks, equipment, and discipline, expected in a legion. The book even details the process of equipment maintenance and supply. The paper work expected of all Centurions is burdensome.

Under The Eagle highlights clothing and equipment issue, which reminds me of the beginning of my military duty. There is the same tossing of general sizes - "you will grow into them, one size fits all, no complaints, no exchanges." bellows the supply officer. Thinking of my own military experience, I noticed similar rough treatment by training officers - the same impatience. Similarities abound in training - while learning tasks, they give a short demonstration and enforce multiple practice sessions until all is perfect.

The novel details battle strategy. In one skirmish, the first battle in the book, the officer in charge messes up and the cohort has to adjust to an enemy of overwhelming numbers. The officer's battle strategy served as a negative example for all the legionaries involved.

My one disappointment with this novel is some of the language that does not fit the time in history: "look bloody harder then", "having said that", "at the end of the day" are used as conjunctions, explicatives, and transitions.

I recommend this book to lovers of historical novels. This is especially good for those who enjoy studying the Roman military.
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"Under the Eagle" is the first novel in a series of novels dealing with Centurion Macro and Optio ("Second in Command") Cato. The novel opens with Cato, a gangling teenager, inducted into the Roman Army in Germany with a letter of introduction from Rome insisting that he immediately be made a Centurion. General Vespasian balks at this notion but compromises by making Cata an "Optio" which is essentially a Centurion's second in command and assistant. Macro and Cato's skills compliment one another since Macro is illiterate, which he takes pains to conceal, while Cato is a bookworm. Most of the novel deals with Cato's coming of age as a competent Roman soldier and fighting-man.

The writing in this novel is quite good, the plot is linear without becoming too passe, and the characterizations are very good. The author does a good job giving the reader a flavor for what it must have been like to be a Roman soldier in post-Republican Rome. I liked this novel well enough to pick up the second installment in the series. RJB.
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on March 21, 2018
Don't waste your time. I bought the first Under the Eagle book in the Kindle format one month ago. When I went to buy the second book I found the price had more than tripled. If you have any interest in reading the whole series, the Kindle format ends at book 6 of 16 books. Very disappointing when you take the time to read an entire book and find yourself in some kind of scam between the author and Amazon.
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on December 6, 2009
Ok, I've been a long time fan of Bernard Cornwell's Sharpe series. Anyway, while talking with a friend about historical fiction a friend of mine (Nick Brett) suggest that since I enjoyed Sharpe's Rifles so much I should give Mr. Scarrow's Under the Eagle series a try.

Under the Eagle is historical fiction dealing with an Imperial Legion (the 2nd) around 42CE near the Rhine (as the story opens) with the 2nd Legion being assigned and preparing for the invasion of Briton. Focus is on Centurion Macro (he's served 14 years to date) and Optio Cato (a former slave who's a new recruit in the legion; btw, for those not familiar with legion ranks, an optio was usually a legionary who'd served for awhile and knew the centurion. Call him like a senior NCO) and their adventures as they become acquainted and prepare for the invasion of Briton. Key focuses include the training of Optio Cato, the blending between Macro and Cato, and there's a nice little bit of political intrigue that's so Roman. The plot is nicely done with good interactions between characters and nice story telling by Mr. Scarrow. The only fault I noted was that while Mr. Scarrow went into Optio Cato's training as a legionary, he failed to complete it (sorry, there's some confrontations that needed to occur and I thought the training environment was ideal for this. With a completion to the Cato's training, it comes across as a little abrupt). Because of this "weakness" this one falls to 4.5 stars. Since Amazon will only let me rate them by whole stars I'll call this one 4 stars but state it's a very solid 4 star book that captures the reader nicely and has you looking forward to the next event. A very enjoyable read that captures the era almost as well as anything from the Sharpe's series (yes, Mr. Cornwell has some very good competition in the historical fiction arena).
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on February 20, 2018
It moves along at a good pace. A couple of the premises seem a bit far fetched others seem spot on, but who's to say. Others seem to translate Victorian military practice backwards a millennium, but that actually makes some sense. The broad outlines are correct to the best of my knowledge. If you are interested in historic fiction dealing with the Legions its a good fit.
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VINE VOICEon February 5, 2010
Simon Scarrow's "Under the Eagle" is the first in a terrific series of novels on the Roman Military. The series follows two soldiers - Macro and Cato - fighting under Vespasian in the mid-first Century AD.

"Under the Eagle's" action is terrific and Scarrow has done a very good job of making each battle sequence unique. It's perhaps the best in Scarrow's series, but I've found the second, "The Eagle's Conquest", equally as enjoyable.

The core components of the story consist of the introduction of the characters, their initial bonding during an action-packed fight in Europe, and then, as the war front moves to Britain, a series of exciting battles orbiting the search and discovery of war loot buried in Britain by Julius Caesar about a century earlier.

"Under the Eagle" introduces our two main characters. Macro is the older battle-hardened Centurion. He fights hard and drinks harder. Cato is a freed slave who grew up in the palaces on the Palatine Hill in Rome. He's young, lanky, bookish and completely unfamiliar with a military lifestyle. Coming from different worlds, Macro and Cato clash. And the story launches it most persistent theme by defining the growth of each character individually and the growth of their relationship.

It's a "buddy" book, with action, adventure, and fun interplay between characters set in the dramatic locations of a peaking Roman Empire.

The characters are a bit thin and superficial, but are drawn from familiar military examples. In Scarrow's world, while the weapons, strategies, tactics and politics are very Roman, the character-types are pretty timeless. You could conceivably modify the language slightly and picture Macro and Cato in WWII, Vietnam, or even on an alien world.

If you're looking for military action, then this book is for you. It's a fast and engaging read. It's not the deepest of military dramas, so if you're looking for something more substantial, I'd recommend Wallace Breem's "Eagle in the Snow", or Robert Graves' "I, Claudius".

Consider "Eagle" a solid snack, compared to the full meal you'd get with Breem or Graves. Another analogy would place "Eagle" as a summer blockbuster, but you shouldn't expect it to win many Oscars.

All in all...I highly recommend this book and series.
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on December 24, 2008
Scarrow's work in Under the Eagle is really awesome. Not only does he develop decent characters, but he does a fantastic job of blending the gritty, harsh conditions that existed with a touch of nostalgia. This is a great balance between something that merely describes how things were and something that goes beyond to lure the reader into the world and give a chance to become involved.

The characters that Scarrow uses are a classic combination of the callous, hardened veteran and the green, intelligent recruit. What's great about it is that neither character is given too much weight in the story and both of them provide a compelling perspective to become involved in. This makes the book move a long well.

Scarrow's use of political schemes and his depiction of the cheap value of life/slavery were very well done. Life is hard and people do bad things with good motivation. Scarrow gives us some great reflections on the weakness and immorality of human nature.

On the whole, I gave this book 5 stars because the author didn't try to do too much and gave us a great short novel that was still loaded with graphic details and action-packed sequences. That's a great combination that really opens to door to want to stay with the series.
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on August 12, 2009
Excellent - Good Read! My friends Centurion Macro and young Cato (before he became Centurion Cato) are at the early stages of tutorage, domination and finally friendship. And Legion Commander Vespasian is both at his best and worse. Simon's presentation of these characters and their enemies are exceedingly more interest that reading a dry history book.

"Ahead was an empty road, stretching out in a more or less straight line towards the horizon. Above him the sky was clear and deep blue, while the air was filled with birdsone. In short, it was the kind of morning that filled Macro with an inner glow of delight at simply being alive..." Simon's words on page 149 allow the reader to march along and to feel the atmosphere around Centurion Macro.

But if life is sweet on one page, you know that trouble is just ahead.
If you liked pg 149, order 'Under the Eagle' and some others by Simon.

The Eagle's Conquest
Centurion (Eagle)
The Eagle in the Sand
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on April 22, 2017
Very readable. I liked this enough that I bought the next few books in the series. I'm also a huge fan of Bernard Cornwell.
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