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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bloody good fun
Macro and Cato are back in town, and bring with them their usual amount of mayhem, intrigue and collateral damage.
They just don't seem able to sit idle and enjoy some down time, or lady fortuna has a sick sense of humour. Once again they are back in the legions, and once again its not a nice comfortable billet. But I don't think either of these boys would want or...
Published 9 months ago by Parm

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I liked it, but...
As other reviewers put it, "the boys are back in town" after a long absence (much too long, according to the fans, me included!). This means that there is a lot of "continuity" in this episode of Macro and Cato's adventures, and even, to some extent, some "return to the origins". The first episodes were about the invasion and Roman conquest of...
Published 9 months ago by JPS


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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bloody good fun, 1 Nov 2013
By 
Parm (A bookshop near you) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Blood Crows (Roman Legion) (Hardcover)
Macro and Cato are back in town, and bring with them their usual amount of mayhem, intrigue and collateral damage.
They just don't seem able to sit idle and enjoy some down time, or lady fortuna has a sick sense of humour. Once again they are back in the legions, and once again its not a nice comfortable billet. But I don't think either of these boys would want or expect one, honours are earned at end end of a sword, and these boys still have medals and higher rank in mind.
In this book we are back where we began, in Britain, there is an unfinished conquest, a guerilla war being waged by the locals, and it needs to end. Tactics on both sides have got bloody and nasty. Cato has command of an auxiliary Unit called the blood crows led by a somewhat sadistic and nasty centurion, and someone that Cato and Macro need to work with, or work around.
Its a book that see's the need fr Cato to really grow into his new rank as prefect, and get over any fears he may have, to get past his concerns regarding his friend and having to command him, its time to grow up.
Will they survive... probably... it wouldn't be the time to end the series would it... but how they get there is a hell of a ride and really is a trip back to the early days of Macro and Cato.. (Julia hardly gets a mention... thank you simon).
A word of caution though, i do echo another reviewer, Simon has shown huge writing skill with his other series and stand alone books, and some times i do wonder if its not time to push Macro and Cato to their conclusion, before they become a stagnant parody of themselves. This book was a great trip back to where we began... can that be sustained forever? or should Simon drive towards the year of the 4 emperors with greater speed?
(everyone will have their own opinion).
But for now... bloody and excellent book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars More of the same...but that's not a bad thing., 17 Mar 2014
This review is from: The Blood Crows (Roman Legion) (Hardcover)
As usual this series is told from the perspective of the introspective, sensitive Cato and the bullish Centurion Macro. The story picks up with Cato and Macro leaving Rome for a return to the province of Brittania.

Still struggling to come to terms with their new, differing rank and social status, they are once again sent to face bloodthirsty barbarians in the mountainous regions of Brittania. Ordered to take command of an auxiliary unit of cavalry in a far flung outpost, they quickly realise that the real danger will come from within. Blood feuds and infighting make this book one of the most tense, nervy encounters yet and the author relays this tension superbly to the reader.

Despite a slightly pedestrian start, whilst the author gets the reader up to speed with the history surrounding current events, the story soon picks up pace once Cato and Macro meet up with their new command. This book contains all of the nerve shredding tension and action of each previous instalment as well as the intrigue and political manoeuvring that has been more a feature of the later books. The themes may seem to be more of the same for loyal Scarrow reader’s, but if you like this genre, then you can’t fail to be hooked by this latest, gripping instalment of Cato and Macro’s story.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I liked it, but..., 1 Nov 2013
By 
JPS - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Blood Crows (Roman Legion) (Hardcover)
As other reviewers put it, "the boys are back in town" after a long absence (much too long, according to the fans, me included!). This means that there is a lot of "continuity" in this episode of Macro and Cato's adventures, and even, to some extent, some "return to the origins". The first episodes were about the invasion and Roman conquest of Britain, and this one, which is volume twelve, also takes place in half-conquered Britain, some eight years later. So our heroes are back, with their usual bantering and rough friendship: Macro, the though no-nonsense veteran centurion with his twenty years in the legions and the more "intellectual" and thoughtful Cato, who has now become Prefect and outranks his old friend. This much has not changed. A somewhat addition has been introduced to the bantering to "spice things up" a bit with Macro's mother who make the first part of the trip - up to Londinium - with the boys, but then drops out of the story as they join their commands on the frontline.

Another piece that has not really changed is, of course, the fights and battles. They are "good as usual", meaning desperate bloody struggles, up close and personal and so exciting that it is hard (to put it very mildly) to put the book down. True to form, "the boys" get embroiled in some rather desperate situations and, true to what is now a well-tested pattern, they get out of them against all odds and rather miraculously. You may have to suspend disbelief - I had to a couple of times - but the story was sufficiently gripping to allow the author to get away with it rather easily.

Then there is the book's tone and emphasis on "visual effects", Cato's attitude (and that of a few other characters, starting with the British warlord and King Caratacus) towards war and the author's comments on the subject in his historical note. This is where I started to have a few problems.

Cato's queasiness about the "horrors of war", wholesale massacres and so on, simply did not ring true and sounded rather anachronistic. At the time, there were, of course, no such things as Human Rights, Geneva Conventions or War Crimes, although you may be inclined to believe there were, given our hero's attitudes with regards to accepting prisoners and not killing women and children. Needless to say, and despite the often quoted Tacitus (who is paraphrased a couple of times in the book), the Romans, whatever their vaunted civilisation (or perhaps even because of it!), seem to have had no qualms with what would easily qualify as mass murders and atrocities nowadays. This had been the case throughout their history, whether during the Republic or the Empire, as similar behaviours would be seen for more than a dozen centuries afterwards (think of the atrocities of the Thirty Years War in Europe during the 17th century, among dozens of other examples.

Then there are what I have termed the book's tone and "visual effects". At times, this volume seemed to be a bit of a cross between Francis Ford Coppola's "Apocalypse Now" and HBO's Spartacus series. The charge of the Thracian cavalry against a Briton village or the displayed heads of enemies reminded me of the former, while the gore, heads chopped of and flying all over the place and guts being spilt left, right and centre made me remember the later, minus the sex scenes, which is something that Simon Scarrow does not seem to go for in his books. Centurion Quertus, the commander of the Thracian cavalry is a Thracian prince, just like Spartacus was according to some version. He also reminded me of Colonel Kurtz, ready to do whatever atrocities it took to win.

A lot of this worked rather well for me, although I did have a little problem with some of the gore scenes. It was not so much about disliking them. Rather, I found that they did not add anything of real value to the story.

Finally, there was the historical context for the whole story. Here, I felt that Simon Scarrow was mostly on safer and firmer ground. I particularly liked the way the Roman governor character was presented. He was in fact terminally ill and died at his post, if I remember correctly. I did have more mixed feelings when the author chose, once again, to depict the Druids as some kind of bloodthirsty fanatics. While this had worked rather well in one of the author's previous volumes, because these Druids then belonged to a specific sect known for being rather "extremists", the author's choice here seems to have been to show all the Druids that appear in this book in a similar light. They seem to spend most of their time conducting gory human sacrifices to the extent that I found them somewhat caricatured.

To conclude, therefore, I still liked this book, but something seems to have changed when compared to previous volumes, and I am not sure the change is an improvement. Hence I will give three stars to this one...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Macro and Cato... is that you?, 6 May 2014
By 
Paul Harris - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Blood Crows (Roman Legion) (Hardcover)
While I enjoyed this book, I did feel (for those who've followed Macro and Cato) that the characters weren't the same ones we last saw. There were flashes of their old relationship, some of which is lost by the changes in the characters themselves and their respective ranks, but also at times they seem cold to one another needlessly. The story itself is a page turner, the action keeps you bumping along at high speed, although the plot is at times a little obvious. Still, it's very enjoyable if a bit like a McDonalds - it satisfies you while it's there but you feel a little empty afterwards, but Macro and Cato have always been about the adventure, not long, deep explorations of psyche and emotion. If you like this kind of book (and I do, hence the four stars) then it's pretty darn good. And as I gave Mr Scarrow's last book a one star review, this was plainly (for me at least) a massive improvement.

A couple of pleas though... can Mr Scarrow please find a word other than loom to describe the effect of light? Without trying to, I noticed it half a dozen times in this novel and I know it turns up in just about every Macro and Cato as I find it distracting every time.

And please never channel Noel Coward again... that threw my suspension of disbelief right out of the window for pages...
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5.0 out of 5 stars STIRRING ADVENTURES DELIVERED WITH RELISH, 1 April 2014
By 
Mr. D. L. Rees "LEE DAVID" (DORSET) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Blood Crows (Roman Legion) (Hardcover)
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AD 51. Britannia an irritating little province, a thorn in Rome's flesh. Friends Prefect Cato and Centurion Macro are amongst those despatched to put down rebellious tribes - prime target Caractacus, he creating havoc with his guerrilla tactics. Danger also threatens from an unexpected source: at the remote garrison where Cato heads, psychopath Quertus is in charge. He is a law unto himself, as Cato's predecessor fatally found out....

Here is Britain from the Roman point of view - weather, wine and women leaving much to be desired. Meet full-blooded characters (even Macro's mother a force to be reckoned with). This is a soldiers' world, there no holding back on the brutality of war: those giant pearls dangling from high above rebels are in fact skulls; carnage fills the final battle sequences.

Simon Scarrow's books are new to me. I was hooked from the start. Some claim the novel not as good as the others. If this is so, real treats lie ahead.

Gripping fare by a master of his craft.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Boys are back and are on top form!, 1 Dec 2013
By 
Sussman "Sussman" (London CA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Blood Crows (Roman Legion) (Hardcover)
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Pretty much from beginning `The Blood Crows' goes straight into the action and the reader is given a vivid account of blood and guts. For those of you who have sampled other books in the series you will no doubt be familiar with Mr Scarrow's approach to action scenes as the reader is immersed into the narrative, better than some video game. What you also get in this new novel are some new and interesting plot threads.
Mr Scarrow also pays attention to historical element - the reader gets a thought-provoking look into Roman society and here we really get to see the differences between say the native inhabitants of Britannia and the Roman occupiers. The dialogue is framed in such a way - so you really get a feel for the merits of this book. The pacing, as ever is good, and is pretty engrossing as well as entertaining. The Blood Crows is literally edge of your seat stuff, as the author has mastered the art of balancing between well moulded characters and pulling the reader into their `world'. The characters of Macro and Cato, as always, are the centre piece of the series, they are really well crafted and it was pleasure to be in their company again. They do not fail in keeping the readers interest; after all `we' the readers have `invested' ourselves in their lives - warts and all.
So, if you're interested in reading about the rich tapestry of Imperial Roman and the Empire they forged, or you are already familiar with Simon Scarrow's Eagle series - then look no further as The Blood Crows will be right up your street. Great story telling that only Simon Scarrow could have put together.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Does this advance the series?, 17 April 2014
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I'm not sure.

Pretty standard fare here and I wonder if it was produced in order to satisfy a contract rather than Mr Scarrow actually wanting to write another Macro novel? I see that the Arena series has kicked off and i do wonder whether this has taken some inspiration out of this series?

All in all a good enough offering with the right level of detail and historic accuracy but with an outcome that was never in doubt and therefore an edge of tension taken away.

Let's hope the next one restores the standard we're used to.
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27 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wales v Italy!!, 3 Oct 2013
By 
Jeff "roadrunner" (uk) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Blood Crows (Roman Legion) (Hardcover)
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It's a pleasure to note how good this novel is after the debacle of 'Arena'. Back to form and written by Scarrow himself-and it shows. Typical of the Cato/Macro series - if you're a fan, you won't be disappointed. Set in South East Wales during the Claudian invasion of Britain, it did occur to me to wonder who we as readers should be cheering for - Cato and Macro, good lads though they are, are, after all, Roman soldiers who are fighting and killing people who most of us can call ancestors. Tricky! Scarrow, to his credit, handles this well, to the extent that there is almost an anti-war feel to the book, which lessens its enjoyment not a bit. There is barbaric behaviour on both sides. I was pleased to see his Author's Note at the end mentions Iraq, a thought that had crossed my mind. The Romans, a great superpower, try to force 'civilisation' on a distant primitive island. It costs the deaths of many of their soldiers. Their present day equivalents try to do the same with 'democracy' in Afghanistan. So, 2000 years of learning what, exactly? Scarrow does conveniently create a malign presence within the invading army itself so it's not all about sorting out Caratacus and the Silures. At one point I was even reminded, somewhat incongruously, of Jack Reacher, coming across some rogue enterprise in the boondocks and sorting it out!
Plenty of blood and guts as we've come to expect. Treachery, bravery and friendship in abundance.
Incidentally, the Roman fort of Bruccium, as far as I'm aware, is fiction. However, must be situated vaguely near Brecon [which it sounds like] and near which a previously unknown fort was discovered this summer. Coincidence?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Blood Crows, 26 Mar 2014
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Fantastic story. A bit disappointing in the end chapter, however still enjoyed the book. Love the characters and their journey together
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cato & Macro do it again, 8 May 2014
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Another very enjoyable read left me wanting them to take on more than they did, but can't wait for the next episode
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The Blood Crows (Roman Legion)
The Blood Crows (Roman Legion) by Simon Scarrow (Hardcover - 24 Oct 2013)
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