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4.7 out of 5 stars
The Legion (Eagles of the Empire)
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63 of 66 people found the following review helpful
on 15 November 2010
Thank goodness for books like this; `The Legion' is an example of some of the very best modern historical fiction available today. With this being the tenth instalment in the series, I was slightly worried that the book would not live up to the high standard set by its superb predecessors. My worries were soon put at ease however, as I began the book and delved into the world of Cato and Macro.

Sent to Egypt in an attempt to locate and capture the notorious rebellious slave Ajax, the intrepid duo are soon involved in the defence of the province from marauding Nubians. Cato and Macro are thrust into the heart of supreme power where every decision could have massive ramifications for the province, the Empire and the Emperor!

This book is in my opinion one of the finest in the series. The characters are by now fully rounded, likeable or detestable (depending on your allegiance!), but ultimately fully dimensional. The descriptions of the terrain and battle formations are well constructed allowing the reader to fully envisage the scene and almost take their place in the ranks. Scarrow has honed his writing technique throughout the series and has created a book which for the historical fiction fan; will be an absolute pleasure to read.

Some lengthy series sell well because the reader feels an obligation to continue reading in case of `missing out' or perhaps out of long established habit. I'm certain that Scarrow's books sell because they stand out in a very crowded and popular genre. I always look forward to reading his latest Roman novel because I can't wait to discover what has happened to some of my most favourite fictional characters. Cato and Macro are like father and son, they are likeable, interesting and captivate the reader from beginning to end.

Finally, I know that I should have supported the underdog Ajax in his quest against the monolithic Roman Empire, but I just couldn't bring myself to pledge my support to his ambitious rebellion.

I'm with Cato and Macro I'm afraid!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon 11 June 2011
This review is from: The Legion (Hardcover)
The Legion: A great milestone in the current series, it being the 10th of an excellent highly addictive and action packed series.
This book continues on from where Gladiator left off, with our heroes tasked with tracking down the ruthless ex-Slave and Ex-Gladiator Ajax. Fresh from his exploits in Crete, having failed to conquer the island, he has escaped to forment rebellion along the Nile.

I have been reading Simons books pretty much since day 1 of publication, and have loved almost every book, I have to admit to being frustrated with the last book Gladiator whilst still enjoying the great writing and characterisation that Simon brings to every story he writes there was something that didn't work for me.
I was however overjoyed to read The Legion and find that all that frustration had gone, that the Heroes Macro and Cato are back on song and the plot raced along at such a pace I had to slow down my reading so I didn't miss anything.

For me this was a return to old, this book was right up there on a par with one of the series best Eagles Prophecy, the comparison easy coming to mind as it links the Roman Naval writing by Simon and Ajax's past. Simon does seem to have a knack for writing all types of bloody battles but the Naval ones being particularly good, with a high degree of realism, pace and action, whilst remembering that people get tired, frustrated , complacent etc..
What we don't want are super heroes we want fallible complicated men, and we get that in spades.

This book also has the added elements of our 2 heroes coming to grips with a change in the dynamic of their relationship, Cato now having progressed through the ranks beyond his mentor, but also Cato struggling with that new rank at times and the responsibility it confers. A true achievement of the book, to have the back drop of these personal turmoil's whilst not taking away the action and the pace and the drama.

This book for me is a real triumph, a return to the best, and a clear sign that we can expect many more great books and exploits' for our intrepid Soldiers.
9/10...or an Amazon 5 Stars. If you like reading Historical fiction then this is a must because Simon is clearly one of the iconic writers of the genre, he sets the standard for others to follow.
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57 of 63 people found the following review helpful
on 11 November 2010
The Legion is the 10th book in Simon Scarrow's series featuring Macro and Cato. The Legion finds our heros in Egypt continuing to hunt Ajax the gladiator who lead the slave uprising on Crete that formed the main storyline of the previous book. As ever their path is never a smooth one with events, politics, incompetence and restless natives conspiring to make their time in the Bread Basket of the Nile Delta an eventful one.

For me The Legion is an example of the best of Simon Scarrow's writing, the action starts almost immediately, picking up where the last book left off, and moves at a rapid pace across the entire book. The politics and intrigue of Ancient Rome are never far away, and continue to shape the storyline and the situation of Macro and Cato.

The changing balance in the relationship between the stalwart Macro and the younger but brighter Cato helps keep the relationship, and hence the book, fresh. With Cato now superior in rank to the vastly more experienced Macro there is a new tension, balanced by their mutual respect and this prevents the relationship falling into the hero and sidekick role that would have been the easy option.

The Gladiator, of the title role of the previous book, Ajax continues to be a thorn in the side of Macro and Cato, and outwits them on a number of occasions. It is these events that help shape and drive our heros' hatred of the gladiator, and their regrets, desire for revenge and mistakes they make in chasing him bring a real human quality to the book.

Personally I loved this book, it is one of the standout books in the series and is one of those books that makes you want to read a few more pages whenever you start to think about putting it down. Highly recommended for fans of Simon, the Historical Fiction Genre and lovers of a cracking good yarn. If you haven't come across Simon yet, I would suggest reading the Gladiator before this one, although its not essential, it will add depth to the storyline and explain the hatred that drives both sides in The Legion.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 8 October 2013
For me Legion is the weakest in the Eagle series, which I find interesting considering the amount of 5 star ratings it appears to have got! Maybe I missed something!

To be the book can be summed up by 2 things; bad decissions, and a poor ending. Throughout the series overall I've loved the plans characters hatch to achieve their goals. Some are over the top in their design but they're generally clever. I don't want to ruin anything but you can see immediately that some decisions are painfully stupid. The ending as well starts well, you don't know what's going to happen, then its over. It's the only book in the series I didn't close with a smile on my face.

As with Praetorian though the short comings shouldn't stop you from reading it. Clearly there are people who thoroughly enjoyed it, and Cato and Macro themselves are as brilliant as always. Just don't expect as much as previous books.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
The Legion is the 10th in Simon Scarrow's 'Eagle' series featuring Roman soldiers Macro & Cato and having finished it I have to wonder whether this is a series that has run its natural course.

Its not that there's anything wrong with The Legion per se. After ten Eagle novels, his 'Revolution' series and his tween Gladiator novels Scarrow is too experienced a writer to produce a totally duff book. The prose is solid, the plotting logical, the historical details sound and the action when it comes coherent and reasonably exciting.

The problem I had with The Legion, and also to an extent with the ninth Eagle novel, The Gladiator (Roman Legion 9), is that it doesn't really offer anything new. Macro and Cato are confronted by a series of challenges as always, some large and some small, and they find a way to overcome each one. Its reassuringly familiar but at the same time very predictable. Scarrow does try and inject some fresh elements into the story. Ajax the rebellious former Gladiator reappears, providing an alternative point-of-view to Macro and Cato's. There's the change of location, with Egypt replacing the previous novel's Crete. In addition to Ajax the Romans are also facing a new enemy in the form of the massed ranks of the Nubians. Plus there's a spy within the Roman ranks working against them.

Despite all these seemingly new plot devices however, I just couldn't help but feel that I'd read The Legion before. Nothing in the book surprised me. At no point did I really feel Macro or Cato were in genuine jeopardy or would fail to triumph in the end. Neither of the lead characters behaved in anything other than the expected manner. It was as if Scarrow was working to well worn formula, which I guess to an extent he is.

The result is an unchallenging read. Perfect if you want comfortable familiarity but hardly a book to set your pulse racing or make you gasp with surprise. Even the mystery of the spy in the Roman ranks was utterly predictable despite some heavy handed attempts at misdirection.

At some point I will probably pick up the next book in the series Praetorian (Roman Legion II), but only when I want something I can dip in and out of and doesn't demand my full attention, but I can't say how much longer my loyalty to this series, which I have stuck with since Under the Eagle was first published in 2000, will last. Scarrow needs to do something radical to re-energise the series. Maybe, dare I say it, he needs to consider 'retiring' Macro or doing something equally extreme. If he doesn't, on the evidence of the last couple of entries, the 'Eagle' series is in danger of becoming safe, familiar and reassuring but ultimately rather dull.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 21 September 2014
The perfect companion to the Eagle series is the ROMA VICTRIX WINE BEAKERCalix Imperium, Roma Victrix Pewter wine beaker

Another excellent Eagle sequel by a master story teller. In this the 10th book in the series Scarrow never misses a beat. The narrative is fast paced full of intrigue and with gratuitous violence, dealt out in good old Macro style, (my favourite Character). Highly recommended.
For those who would like further information on this epoch I highly recommend the OSPREY Campaign, Warrior, and men at arms booklets, with great overviews, excellent illustrations, and highly detailed maps.

The perfect companion to the Eagle series is the ROMA VICTRIX wine beaker of which Simon is a proud owner. Below is a passage from a review he made.
BEAUTIFULLY SCULPTED IT IS A VERY HANDSOME THING! THE REASON WHY I PARTICULARLY LIKE THIS CUP IS THAT IT FEATURES THE MEN AND INSIGNIA OF THE SECOND LEGION, THE UNIT IN WHICH CATO LEARNED HOW TO BECOME A SOLDIER UNDER THE AFFECTIONATE EYE OF MACRO! IT'S A LOVELY THING AND HAS PRIDE OF PLACE ON MY DESK RIGHT NOW!Calix Imperium, Roma Victrix Pewter wine beaker
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on 28 January 2011
Simon Scarrow has once again managed to produce yet another brilliant story involving Macro and Cato. In the sequel to The Gladiator our intrepid heroes are tasked with pursuing and destroying Ajax and his gladiator army who are posing as Roman soldiers and attacking settlements and ships in Egypt. These attacks are turning the locals against Rome and so must be dealt with as soon as possible and who better, than the two man army that is Cato and Macro!

The action starts as soon as you open the book and throughout there are a couple of twists and turns that keep you reading and wanting more. My indulgence of the story was delayed by flu but as soon as I was better I picked up from where I'd left off and so did the action on sea and land. Mr Scarrow having visited the places he writes about, enables the reader to graphically recreate the scenes fully with little need for imagination.

Once again the battle scenes are graphic as they should be when writing about such conflicts and you can easily see in your minds eye the horrific injuries sustained and hear the clash of sword against sword. Ajax and his men are constantly pursued and worn down by the Roman force led by Cato, as eventually their ships are destoyed and the chase returns to the land, where Ajax begins even worse tactics against the local population.

With only a small band of men left, Ajax volunteers his services to the Nubians who have invaded the Roman held land in an attempt strangle the grain supply to the capital. Ajax with his lust for revenge however, does things his own way which brings it's own problems. After certain events Cato finds himself in charge of the twenty second legion, who are whipped into shape after their policing role in Egypt away from front line duties.

What follows is another great story which is concluded with one of the largest battles in the series so far. Cato shows a softer more vulnerable side in this book but he's helped along by the ever dependable Macro. I noticed there was also slightly less humour in this story compared to others but it didn't detract from other books. All in all it's another great edition to previous books and keeps Simon Scarrow at the forefront of historical Roman novels.
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on 5 June 2015
The writing style is easy to read, at times boring and far from elegant.

Prefect Cato is challenged with various responsibilities in Egypt, such as the rogue gladiator Ajax, which centurion Macro notices and, at times, seems concerning for Cato's changing personality.

I cannot say much about the plot, as I did not finish reading the novel--I gave up at chapter twenty-seven. Unlike the previous books in the series, it is not gripping. It is overly simple.

Scarrow always brings tactics and other details of ancient warfare to create good imagery, but as mentioned before "The Legion" is not up to previous standards.

Research is thin. I enjoyed the earlier novels when the characters lived with true historical events rather than creating events themselves.

The novel shows some signs of the author's interest, inspiration and passion. Scarrow understands the events, personalities and societies in ancient Rome, though, disappointingly, real historical characters and events are not present in the novel. Perhaps "The Legion" is a series-filler.

Other than "The Gladiator", this novel is a disappointment in the series. I will read on and I hope the proceeding novels are better, or..
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 24 October 2013
Given I paid 1p for this book (a book I've read before and enjoyed) to add to my collection on my bookshelf, I am amazed.

I was expecting (and prepared) a dust cover that had seen better days but I've bought books in worse condition brand new from bookstores!

Excellent book filled with the usual Scarrow brilliance too, all for a penny, bargain.
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on 15 March 2013
I bought this after realising my new Kindle download was not the next in the series.

I'm glad I did as once again Simon Scarrow has written a great book that continues to provide an fresh interest to the characters of Cato & Macro.

I am concerned about the Promotion prospects of Cato in the story due to the fact his age is mentioned several times however I suppose the times and the structure of the Roman military would allow him to do what is needed.

At times it feels a little rushed and some of the story seems to be glossed over but I can't let that spoil what was a great story with plenty of moments had me wanting Macro & Cato to end Ajax campaign against Rome.

The ending is well worked and I have to say was a surprise; as was the identity of another character later in the book.

I look forward to the story to come and my only concern is that the detail of military life in that time is not being fully delivered as other authors are doing with their Roman series.
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