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on 11 October 2006
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.
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on 4 July 2014
Simon Scarrow is a canny author who decided early on in the Marco and Cato series of novels to pace himself in a way that will allow the pair to appear in many adventures together. This does mean at times that the series is a little slow, but each tale has its own feel as Scarrow explores different types of narrative whilst still remaining within the structure of the action led historic fiction genre. Here M and C find themselves travelling East and having to deal not only with possible treason, but also a powerful new cult that is arising in the area.

Like previous books in the series ‘The Eagle in the Sand’ mixes the fictional adventures of our heroes in with the real history of the time. As previous books have been set in Britain and Rome I was able to follow what was going on as I have covered them many times before. This time Scarrow looks to the cult of Jesus et al of the period and I found it all very confusing. There are many rival elements vying for power in the region and I for one could not get my head around who was who at times. Scarrow’s insistence at bringing in all these warring elements really detracted from the central story at times.

This is a shame as the action and story are as solid as ever. The battles are well written and spending time with both Marco and Cato remains a joy. The prolonged siege is one of the best battle sequences that Scarrow has written yet and I really enjoyed the various guerrilla tactics that Cato in particular liked to evoke. It is just the elements that sit around the action that are a little poorer than other outings in the series. As our intrepid duo head back West to take on the Brits and Boudicca, I am sure that the plots will once more come back to match the high quality of the action.
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on 14 November 2012
Review of the series (followed by a review of this book):
This series of books is based around the adventures of two men - Macro and Cato. Macro is a soldier through and through; he has spent his life in the army and is a centurion when we first meet him in the first book. In that book we also meet Cato who joins the legion as a new recruit, although he seems an unlikely candidate for a soldier. The series goes on to relate their many adventures and the relationship between them. Most of the stories are based - sometimes loosely - on real events and people, with a healthy dose of artistic license.
As far as I can tell the historical detail and facts are accurate, and the writing is generally engaging. There are criticisms in other reviews about the authors use of 'modern' slang; I know what they mean, but would we identify with 'roman' slang? For me, it is not a problem, I am not a fan of trying to invent historical language, it is too easy to fall into the 'ye olde shoppe' trap!
Overall, the series is very readable, and rolls along at a good pace. Like some other historical series, it doesn't do to try and fit the events into a timeline, as it soon becomes clear that the two men could not have done everything they do in one lifetime, but that doesn't detract from a fun series. Two niggles:the formatting annoys me in that the gaps between paragraphs are too long, particularly where there are long conversations, and they are a little over-priced.
Review of this book:
This episode is set in Syria and Judea, and centres around the defence of a fort in the desert. Surrounded by allies and enemies, Macro and Cato need to work out which is which, because it is soon clear that it is not as obvious as it seems. I won't go into detail and spoil the plot, but this, for me, is the weakest book in the series so far. The main story is quite good, but the introduction of the religious element is forced and artificial, and to my mind unnecessary. I hope the next book will return be a return to form.
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After a brief sojourn into the eighteenth century with the Duke of Wellington and Napoleon, Young Bloods (Book 1, 2006) Simon Scarrow is back to sorting out the problems of the Roman Empire with his two lead characters Cato and Macro. Cato was once optio, (or chosen man, second in command of a legion) to the centurion Macro, but Cato has now achieved the rank of centurion and the pair have been through many encounters together. This has made them not only battle hardened, but the closest of friends. A friendship moulded by standing side by side in battle. Each would happily die for the other, though neither would admit it.

Both men have been sent on a mission to the Roman frontier, where trouble is brewing and for once the troops seem to be in disarray. When the pair arrive a local revolt is beginning to grow in scale, with a local tribesman preaching violence and death against Rome

Macro and Cato must use their knowledge and expertise as centurions to stamp out the corruption in the cohort and get the men back to being a unified fighting force before the Eastern Provinces are lost forever

I will read anything and everything about the Roman legions, be it fact or fiction so these books are like manna from heaven for me. Simon Scarrow's books are very authentic and all of them are extremely enjoyable reading.
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on 1 September 2006
Any fan of the Eagle Series will love this book!

It's fast paced, rip roaring ride around Judea. It must be one of the funniest of the series too, i couldnt finish it quick enough!

And for anyone who hasnt read Simons Eagle's all i can say is....why not!!!!

for any reader who likes historical fiction, read this series. you'll not regret it!
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After a brief sojourn into the eighteenth century with the Duke of Wellington and Napoleon, Simon Scarrow is back to sorting out the problems of the Roman Empire with his two lead characters Cato and Macro. Cato was once Optio (something like the equivalent of a sergeant) to the Centurion macro, but they are now both centurions and have been through many encounters together. This has made them the closest of friends. Friendship that only standing side by side in battle can mould. Each would happily die for the other, though neither would admit it.

Both men have been sent on a mission to the Roman frontier, where trouble is brewing and the for once the troops seem to be in disarray. When they arrive a local revolt is beginning to grow in scale, with a local tribesman preaching violence and death against Rome

Macro and Cato must use their knowledge and expertise as centurions to stamp out the corruption in the cohort and get the men back to being a unified fighting force before the East Provinces are lost forever

I will read anything and everything about the Roman legions, be it fact or fiction so these books are like manna from heaven for me. Simon Scarrow's books are very authentic and an extremely enjoyable read.
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on 12 February 2013
BRILLIANT, yet again Simon scarrow has drawn the reader into this series of books involving Cato and Macro and their adventures. He has the Knack of keeping you reading until the final page as you can't wait to see what happens. Cato and macro have become friends to the reader as their adventures have unfolded, and I wait with bated breath for the next book. Long may they continue to keep us enthralled. I also love the descriptions of the countryside around them as they sent out to fight the enemy wether it is in ancient Britain or the sands of a desert.
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on 19 March 2013
I've liked all of this series of books since I read the first one. As a serviceman myself I can say that the humour and banter is spot on, and I always find myself laughing at some of the banter between Macro and Cato. The story itself is a rollicking good read, plenty of action and humour abound. If you've read the other Macro and Cato books you won't be disappointed with this one. Excellent book, well recommended.
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on 19 June 2010
The eagle in the sand is book number seven , in Simon Scarrow's eagle series.

After the previous events, Macro and Cato have been sent out to judea , on a mission to win hearts and minds between the battling religions and convince the sorrounding area's that rome is a positive ruler. However , this is not simple , the commanders are corrupt and their enemy is growing . Looks like were set for another exciting title.

The thing that separates this from Scarrows previous adventures is actually the lack of staging in battles and the events sorrounding them. The enemy is Bannus , a man who once followed Jehoshua ( jesus ) and after his death decided he wanted revenge , so took the role of leader of Jehoshuas followers and is leading them against rome. So there is quite a religious undercurrent , whilst the history of the different sects aren't dived into, you get the brief outline which is all you need to know.

You also see the growing emotional side of Macro and the freindship between him and Cato is shown to be strong , although in Macro's eyes just part of being in the army. It's intresting to see how the origional image of Macro has been worn down and we see his sensitive side.

The writing stays typical of his book's , exciting and fast paced whilst not giving too much detail . A freind of mine said that Scarrow says a door is a door , others may say its a 6x2ft , 4 inch thick peice of italian wood carved in sicilly etc. Whch is true , and a big reason why his writing flows across the pages.

This wasn't my favorite in the series but still a good book , the only problem was their seemed to be a lot of travelling put in which revealed only one or two bits about the story. The build up of suspense sorrounding parthia ( a neutral , but possibly deadly enemy ) was high , as its on the border of romes empire , and the wariness of the protagonists when walking around the city was very tense.
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on 25 July 2008
In this book - the 7th outing for Centurions Macro and Cato in Scarrow's wonderfully written Eagles series - our heroes find themselves in Judea, on a secret mission for their previous nemesis Narcissus, to once again save parts of the Empire from those who would destroy it from both the outside and within. Arriving at a Roman garrison fort on the outskirts of the very Empire, they discover corruption, inaptitude and hostility - and that is within their very own Roman ranks !! Add to this, the restless, infighting religious fanaticism of the local people, the Partians and a man who would be `Messiah' and the region is set to explode like a powder-keg , unless our illustrious duo can save the day.

Scarrow once again hits the mark on his story telling, his historical depth and details, and all his characters from previous novels all act form and I found myself reading this book very quickly. A real page turner in places. If I were to say that this book was a mixture of `The Life Of Brian', 60's Foreign Legion films and the Alamo, I think you may get the idea and story of the book ! But do not let that put you off, it is still a fine and smooth read.

Scarrow really puts across the bitter religious differences that even to this day infect the middle-eastern region. But in my own opinion I also felt that this story also showed an underlying message that people of different religions, nationalities and faiths can still get along in the world - as applicable in ancient Rome as it is probably still is today. I will also admit to getting the urge to re-watch MP's `The life of Brian' again after reading this, just to see if Scarrow really got any ideas for this novel from the `People Front Of Judea' or the `Judean Peoples Front' !

Bad things ? Not really anything that needs a mention, though the `proof-reader' should spend a little more work on the book next time ! Apart from that, the only people that may not like the book is people with hard-cored Christian values (no offence intended), since Scarrow has drawn quite openly on the biblical history of Jesus and his followers for a template for his latest characters.

Scarrow still on track, and I once again look forward to the next outing of cato and Macro. 5 out of 5.
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