It must be hard for a writer of a series to keep the standard up from one book to the next, yet alone improve it. But that's what Scarrow has achieved with this magnificent series of books. The Eagle in the Sand is set in the Roman province of Judaea, some years after THE crucifixion. The land is torn by civil strife and savage terrorist attacks, while the hapless Roman garrison struggles to keep a lid on it all - so not a million miles from today's Iraq in fact. And it's this shimmering between the two historical periods that makes the book rather more intelligent and thoughtful than most other historical fiction novels. That's not to say that Scarrow has dropped action and replaced it with speculation. Eagle in the Sands is as exciting and action packed as the pervious novels, I just don't know how he manages to combine the two aspects so effectively. But it works.
Macro and Cato arrive in the middle of this mess with orders to take command of a desert fort on the very fringe of the empire. Their task is to put down a local rebellion led by one of the followers of a certain nationalist rebel executed at the time of Pilate. This latest rebellion is being aided by the Parthians as part of the great game being played out between their empire and Rome to dominate the east.
A tough mission, and as ever a dangerous one. Macro and Cato are as engaging as ever and the setting is described so finely that you'll break out in a sweat as they trek through the desert, visit Petra and have a final showdown in the blood red sand dunes of Rhum.
So then, here I am stuck with waiting another year before the next book comes out... sigh.