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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars As Macro and Cato meet they are polar opposites, who become good friends
Under the Eagle is the first book in the Eagle Series, by Simon Scarrow. The book opens with a small preface set during the first Roman invasion of Britain in 55 BC. As a group of legionaries lose the army's pay chest in a marsh while withdrawing to the ships. The narrative then proceeds to the German frontier in AD 43, where a new draft of recruits is arriving at the...
Published 17 days ago by Sussman

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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Odd use of language
Whilst the book is a very accessable and enjoyable romp it is, I feel, let down by it's use of very modern langauge and terms of reference.

All the profanity uses current anglo saxon terms where a 'by Jupiters Moon' would have been more fitting and in context. That said, the one phrase that made me wonder out loud was something along the lines 'as unsteady as...
Published on 19 Jan 2011 by play_monkey


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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Under the Eagle, 3 Feb 2014
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This review is from: Under the Eagle (Paperback)
Bought this book as it is about the Roman Empire and of its Legions, I have not read it yet so cannot comment on it but i am looking forward to reading it.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Eagle has landed - in ancient Germany., 10 Aug 2011
By 
RR Waller "ISeneca" (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Under the Eagle (Paperback)
BRIEF STORY DETAILS - SLIGHT SPOILERS

Written in 2000, the first of Simon Scarrow's books, it is set in 42 AD, when Quintus Licinius Cato arrived in Germany, a new recruit to the tough Second Legion. He is quickly promoted to second-in-command to Macro, the fearless, experienced centurion.

SAFE READING _ NO SPOILERS

In his first book, we meet Cato and Macro and they encounter each other. I was fortunate as this was my first Scarrow, allowing me to read them in order. I have since read all the Eagle series, followed the careers of Cato and Macro with great interest and eagerly await the already pre-ordered "Praetorian".
Not the heights of Literature (nor pretending to be), but well-written nevertheless, the series is filled with his great depth of knowledge, enthusiasm for and interest in the Romans.
Cunningly peopled with all the names from our history lessons - Vespasian, Cladius, Caratacus, Boudica - and the Roman campaigns to extend the Empire but centred on two Roman soldiers who become unlikely close friends, Macro and Cato, their careers and friendship carries the stories along. Following them closely allows the intimate details of human life to be in the forefront while the everyday lives of Roman soldiers and the political intrigues of the Roman Empire provide the backdrop.
Despite the occasional feeling of déjà vu (which the soldiers must have felt too), if readers have an interest in all things Roman, this is a very enjoyable, interesting and educational series.
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3 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Cliched and Plotless, 28 Jun 2011
This review is from: Under the Eagle (Paperback)
Scarrow's 'Under The Eagle' definitely left me thinking, unfortunately it was 'where is the plot?'

To me it seems that Scarrow wanted to write a modern day thriller in the vein of James Barrington, in the Roman period. Unfortunately it fails on both points.

There is no feeling that this book is Roman, apart from characters dressing up in Roman costume. Characters speak in a modern idiom, their dialogue littered with anglo-saxon swears. Cato calls the Legion's eagle 'a piece of metal,' surely a flogging offence in the Legions? The idea that a fort's sick bay would be an equivalent a modern day military hospital is utterly preposterous. For far too many times, Scarrow gets on his soapbox to lecture the reader on Roman history or politics.

But my biggest gripe is that the book doesn't go anywhere. I would be grateful if someone actually explained the plot to me. All I can see is a succession of scenes set in forts or battles. There is never a well developed antagonist anymore than a faceless, barbarian Celtic tribes. Cato and Macro's characterisation is cliched and cardboard at best. The narrative never progresses beyond a good vs bad mentality.

I can see that there is a market for this kind of military stuff, but give me a plot, strong characters and a well developed antagonist.
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2 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars not good!!!, 9 Nov 2010
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This review is from: Under the Eagle (Paperback)
a very disappointing read....first of, the author uses very dumbed down language and phrases that just don't ring true for the time period....anyone imagine a roman senator using the phrase 'I have a real corker of a plan'?! Also the author insists on calling the barbarians of north Europe the Germans....several hundred years before there was a Germany. These things on there own wouldn't matter but combined with a very slow moving storyline and characters that you just don't care about, it makes for a very disappointing read. Having read this just after reading all four books of the Emperor Series by Conn Iggulden (which were truly excellent) I was left unimpressed and will not be buying anymore of the series.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb Debut, 17 Oct 2011
This review is from: Under the Eagle (Paperback)
Written in 2000, long before many of this historical-novel-writing genre began their debuts, Simon Scarrow's debut anticipated good things to come in Under the Eagle. Having scarcely read the first few pages the pace of the plot and the action, parallel with Simon's broad knowledge of Roman history, reached full speed.

I've always wanted to read a novel focussing on the the Roman invasion of Britain, and the parts played in it by Vespasian and Plautius especially. That search ended with Under the Eagle.

The author hereby well describes the atmosphere in the officers' mess, and he tackled that by poignantly bringing in Cato, who was raised in comfortable, well-to-do surroundings. Having arrived at the fort in Germany on a cold day and facing the wrath of Bestia, Cato couldn't have encountered a more stark contrast or been worse-prepared, and Pulcher the bully was brought in to specially add insult to injury.

The fights, the fallings-out and the resulting punishments amongst the legions, especially marked the beginning of a new era, whereby the historic novel showed evidence of veering away from the glossed-up, romanticised views that most previous authors had, even of war and other conflicts. In their place came the state of war and life in the military as it really is, including the swearing and the horrific consequences of a bloody fight described in detail. Love it or hate it, it really happened, and that is what the reader tries to absorb.

Under the Eagle to me marked beginning of the last chapter in the development of the ideal novel, which could bring the reader into the realistic world of the Roman military. I look forward to reading Simon's other books.
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4 of 12 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Carry On Sergeant Roman Style, 8 April 2011
By 
John Fitzpatrick (São Paulo, Brazil) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Under the Eagle (Paperback)
Remember Carry on Cleo with the luscious Amanda Barry, the ugly Sid James and, best of all, Kenneth Williams as the camp Julius Ceaser with the immortal line on being assassinated - "Infamy, infamy - they've all got it in for me!"

This effort brings back these memories as, at times, its treatment of Roman History is as farcical.

Basically, what we have is the old tale of a sensitive youngster who has been recruited into the army and sets off on his basic training under the tyrannical eye of a maniac sergeant, bullying fellow recruits and unsympathetic officers, and suffers ritual humiliation.

The only difference is that this tale is set in AD 42 and the young squaddie is about to find out what life is like as a member of a Roman legion.

He does all the wrong things - fails to call an officer "sir", bumps into the soldier in front of him during drill and almost kills an officer by throwing a javelin badly. The only part missing is the scene where the rookies swing across a river on a rope and fall into the mud.

His first taste of action is a ferocious (and very tedious) battle in Germany that has obviously been based on the opening scene of the film Gladiator.

The whole point of this story is that Germany is a playground compared with the soldiers' next posting in "a land of unparalleled barbarity - Britain" as the blurb puts out.

I gave up around page 150, my head dulled by the sheer monotony of this text - it's difficult to dignify it by calling it a book - and its pedantic description of the military formation of a Roman legion.

Apart from a six-page "prologue" showing Julius Caesar (not the Kenneth Williams version) vowing to get his revenge on the bloodthirsty Britons, the story was mired down on the banks of the river Rhine and nowhere near England's green and pleasant land.

I peeked a couple of hundred pages ahead and found our heroes had still not arrived but were trudging across Gaul. This confirms what I dreaded, i.e. this story will be stretched out over several volumes.

There seems to be a lot of this kind of fiction around at the moment so there must be an audience for it and, in the hands of a good writer, it can be entertaining.

However, if you like good writing instead of a weak plot, laughable dialogue and non-existent characters, give this one a miss. Stick to Gibbons' "Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire" or check out Carry on Cleo again.
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Under the Eagle
Under the Eagle by Simon Scarrow (Paperback - 7 Aug 2008)
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