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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just gets better and better
For those that have not heard of them, there is a group called the HWA "Historical Writers Association" . It is made up of many of the finest writers in the Historical Fiction genre. Robert Fabbri is one of these splendid authors.

For the last 12 months I have been convinced that this group of authors is having an impact on its self, a positive impact. I don't...
Published 10 months ago by Parm

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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Little Less Conversation, A Little More Action Please!
One thing you can't deny is that Fabbri knows how to write a page-turner. So, far I have to admit that book II has been the best of the series. I think Robert Fabbri's advantage over other writers of Roman HF is that he can get under the skin of the Romans, and really evoke the ancient world in the same way that Christian Cameron does for Athens. He has an extraordinary...
Published 6 months ago by Dignitas


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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just gets better and better, 2 Oct 2013
By 
Parm (A bookshop near you) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
For those that have not heard of them, there is a group called the HWA "Historical Writers Association" . It is made up of many of the finest writers in the Historical Fiction genre. Robert Fabbri is one of these splendid authors.

For the last 12 months I have been convinced that this group of authors is having an impact on its self, a positive impact. I don't think its an overt impact, I just think that personalities, the discussions, the exchange of thoughts and ideas is impacting the styles, the depth, the quality and the final product. To the point that 2013 has led to some of the finest books ever released in the genre.

Robert Fabbri's Vespasian 4 Rome's Fallen Eagle is for me an example of that, easily the finest book in the series, a book that has taken another step up in quality of action, imagery, pace, prose and plotting. I was left mesmerised for hours at a time reading this book, I grimaced in pain, laughed out loud and cheered on Vespasian and his brother Sabinus with every page.

From the forests of Teutoberg and a story that should have screamed implausible, but had me on the edge of my seat, to the seat of imperial power and Narcissus, to the battle fields of Britain. This book packs in so much story line, and yet covers everything in such great depth and power i'm amazed the book isn't over 1000 pages long, it seemed to go on for ever and yet finished far too quickly.

This is truly one of the best novels you will read this year, and for fans of Simon Scarrow: the ending left me feeling I had been dropped at the start of Under the Eagle, I wonder how many people will be pulling out their copies for a re-read after finishing this book.

Very highly recommended, and i'm so looking forward to book 5

(Parm)

Vespasian
1. Tribune of Rome (2011)
2. Rome's Executioner (2012)
3. False God of Rome (2013)
4. Rome's Fallen Eagle (2013)
The Crossroads Brotherhood (2011)
The Racing Factions (2013
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing, 13 Dec 2013
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The author of this series cleverly contructs an intriguing history of Vespasian's early exploits in such a way that the little points of history of this period that are known are intervoven into the fiction. I eagerly look forward to Mr Fabbri's next version of the Vespasians history. He paints an alternative view to Robert Graves, where Claudius is shown as a total idiot, ruled by his freedman and his wives. It is speculation as to whether Claudius was a gullible genius or a total drooling buffoon, however, I find that the Robert Fabbri's contruction fits very well into the potential political machinations of the Roman Court around the mid- first century AD.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Still good..., 13 Oct 2013
By 
JPS - See all my reviews
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This is volume 4 in Robert Fabbri's series on Vespasian, one of the most "sympathetic" of all the Roman Emperors, to the extent that any of them could afford to be. As in the former instalments, the author tells a griping story where both Vespasian and his elder brother Sabinius take centre stage. Also like the previous episodes, the author has clearly done "his homework", researched the historical context and weaved his story within it in ways that are mostly or just about plausible.

The story starts with the assassination of Caligula, which follows the historical sources rather closely, except that Vespasian's brother is not mentioned as having been involved. The Senate did hesitate in nominating Claudius as his successor. As shown in the book, this was something that the new emperor resented and did not forget, despite his sometimes alleged "republican" inclinations. It certainly increased his paranoia which, given what he had been through before (a glimpse of it is shown in this book and even more in the previous one, with Caligula tormenting him and all the senators laughing at him), and the absolute power that the Emperor wielded, was probably part of the "job description" of any Emperor wishing to survive on the throne. As someone stated a while ago, the Julio-Claudian regime was an absolute monarchy mitigated by assassination, and this is very well rendered throughout the book.

The book is built around the recovery of the "fallen eagle", the third and last eagle of Varo's legions which were destroyed in the Teutoburg Forest in 9 AD and around the first phase of the invasion of Britain. The eagle was in fact recovered by Gabinius. The role played by the Flavian brothers in the recovery is the author's fiction. He is largely able to get away with it once again because we know rather little of Vespasian's and his brother's life and whereabouts before they took part in the invasion of Britain. It is therefore just about possible (although perhaps not very likely) that within the two year period between the murder of Caligula and the invasion, when Vespasian was Legate of the II Augusta on the Rhine (stationed at Argentorate - modern Strasbourg), he went on a secret expedition, as described in the book.

Anyway, whether likely or not, this expedition also allows Fabbri to present the state of Germania Magna at the time, the abandoned Roman province, and to tell the story of the Teutoburg disaster seen through the eyes of a legionary of Germanicus who reached the site of the battle half a dozen years afterwards, recuperated two of the three lost eagles in AD 14 and 15, and burried his comrades from the doomed legions. Here also, the author's careful research shows, including his knowledge of the archaeological findings of what was a multi-day running battle, with the last stand taking place near Kalkriese, not far from Hanover. One little glitch here is that the earth wall that runs parallel to the road taken by the Romans was more likely to have been prepared and manned by the Germanic tribes to box them in, rather than having been set up by the Romans in the heat of the moment to try to defend themselves.

Similarly, the invasion of Britain is well described, with the author having mainly used Brigadier John Peddie's book ("Conquest - The Roman invasion of Britain") and acknowledging it. Here again, the Flavian brothers' crucial roles in the battles fought to gain the crossing of the Medway and the Thames are based on the sources. There are however some instances where the author's interpretations seem to be a bit "borderline" and may have gone a bit too far.

One is his interpretation of the lame and physically handicapped Claudius, which the author repeatedly (and with some exaggeration) presents as a drooling fool. The extent to which he really was such a fool and let himself be influenced by warring factions (his Greek freedmen and Messalina) is somewhat controversial. So is the allegation that it was the freedmen who really ruled in his name, with Claudius being a mere figurehead. Using the freedmen as his henchmen was rather shrewd since the owed him everything. They had no power base of their own, they could not become emperors and they had no interest in overthrowing him. Also, and while Messalina was no Vestal Virgin and certainly ruthless and ambitious, what we know of her is what the sources written after her demise tell us of here: the picture is not a flattering one. It is also likely to have been a rather exaggerated one, as the Romans, when "blackening" the reputation of the "losers" in the latest power struggle, loved to heap all sorts of sexual depravations onto them. They did it with Augustus, Tiberius and Caligula. They would do it again with Nero.

Another far-fetched interpretation is when the author transforms the later stage of the campaign into a show, a piece of theatre with the sole purpose of propaganda for the benefit of the new regime. He assumes that Claudius was not even aware of it and really believed that the victory was due to his timely arrival. This is a bit much, especially since Claudius himself was well aware of the need for a military victory in order to shore up the legitimacy of his own regime. He was also a scholar and a historian, well aware that he was no soldier and, as mentioned before, quite unlikely to have been the utter fool and moron that Fabbri makes him out to be.

It also seems that the battle on the Thames was not brought to be by an over-ambitious legate trying to steal the glory for himself. Instead, Camulodonum (Colchester) was attacked, besieged and stormed after quite a bit of real fighting, as opposed to being a complete sham, as the author has chosen to show.

Another little glitch was to show the elderly Aulus Plautius (he would die sometime between AD 47, when he returned from Britain and was awarded his ovation and AD 51) just "losing it" towards the end of one of the battles and cutting through Briton warriors at the head of his cavalry as some Roman version of Conan the Barbarian. This was also a bit difficult to believe.

Apart from these glitches, all the rest was at least fine, and often great and superb. Even when not entirely plausible, the plots and action made this book into a real "page-turner", one of the ones that you just cannot drop until you have finished it. Although perhaps not quite as good as some of the previous volumes (or is this just me being fussy?), I still found that this one was just about worth five stars.

PS: for those wanting to learn more about the events covered in this book, I can recommend the following:
- John Peddie's book on the Roman invasion of Britain, which I have already mentioned in the review
- For the Teutoburg disaster, Major Clunn's book "In Quest of the Lost Legions: the Varusschlacht" (1999) and the corresponding Osprey Campaign title "Teutoburg Forest AD 9", by Michael McNally (2011)
- Regarding the Emperors, the (very scholarly) biographies of Tiberius, Claudius and Vespasian, by Barbara Lewick, the one on Caligula, by Antony Barrett, all published by Routledge, and
- for the story about the conquest of Rhetia and Germania before Teutoburg, "Eager for Glory: The Untold Story of Drusus the Elder, Conqueror of Germania" by Lindsay Powell (Drusus the Elder was the brother of Tiberius and the father of Germanicus and of Claudius)
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enthralling Read, 2 April 2014
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A great mix of history and fiction combine to make this an enthralling read. The whole series of books flow from one to the other keeping your interest at all times.Can't wait for the next instalment.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fact & fiction wounderfully combined, 3 Dec 2013
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After reading Fabbri other books this was a must for me. thie mix of fiction and fact are skill fully combind so that as you read history comes to life.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing and Gritty, 5 Dec 2013
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The fourth book in the Vespasian series does not disappoint, intrigue and gritty action abound. The author is on firm ground with his in-depth historical knowledge of the period (with a little license hear and there). If you combine the latter, with a fast paced compelling narrative and three dimensional characters, you have the makings of a must read. I shall not delve into the plot, as previous reviewers have already beaten me to it. Suffice it to say, highly recommended.

The ROMA VICTRIX wine beaker is the perfect companion to the Vespasian series, indeed Robert has one of his own, here is a passage from his review.
It has now become my every day drinking vessel and as such gets plenty of usage; every time i take a sip of wine I am delighted by the beaker's form and feel, it's a pleasure to hold. For me, however, there's an even more personal aspect to the beaker: Above each panel is the head of Vespasian; so after a day spent writing the great man's story i sit back with a decent red and toast him and the II Augusta.
To see the full review click on this link.Calix Imperium, Roma Victrix Pewter wine beaker

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.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Little Less Conversation, A Little More Action Please!, 24 Jan 2014
One thing you can't deny is that Fabbri knows how to write a page-turner. So, far I have to admit that book II has been the best of the series. I think Robert Fabbri's advantage over other writers of Roman HF is that he can get under the skin of the Romans, and really evoke the ancient world in the same way that Christian Cameron does for Athens. He has an extraordinary talent for getting to grips with Roman politics and writing it in a way that is accessible to the non-academic. Book II showed Fabbri at his height.

Another reviewer has commented that Fabbri seems to be growing constrained by history. I disagree, this where he excels (and I think he should stick to it more, rather than adding his fictions.) I would argue that he is becoming constrained because he is covering the same territory as many other recent authors (Simon Scarrow, Manda Scott, Douglas Jackson.) Which leads me to a second problem I had. As I neared the end of the novel I asked myself 'would it have mattered if the plot-strand of the Eagle of the XVII wasn't there, would it matter? My answer was no, and it would have been a stronger novel to forgo the boys-own antics and concentrated more on the actual invasion of Britain. It actually ended up ludicrous the idea that Vespasian could go trampling through Germania with several cohorts, and a legion in pursuit without causing another massacre by the Germans. And that's Fabbri's problem, he's now become reliant on a formula: (1) The book starts off with an historical event, sending the hero fleeing to some far-flung province; (2) Hero gets involved with boys-own antics, which is sabotaged by competitor/spy; (3) Back to historical event, ending on a hook. It made me wonder how many more lost eagles could possibly be out there waiting to be found in fiction-land?

The other major problem was that the characters seemed to spend more time standing around talking about the plot, than actually getting on with it. A few times is fine, but when it's constant, you end up feeling had the author removed these scenes there would have been a lot more plot to enjoy (and a four-star review.)

I was disappointed that Fabbri opted for the typical portrayal of Druidism 'as blood-thirsty priests,' which is neither supported by history or archaeology. I am no apologist, and do believe they committed human sacrifice, but it was hypocritical to vilify them as child-murders (in a book that starts of with a child having its head smashed against the wall), and burying virgins alive (Vespasian's own son is documented as doing this to a Vestal.)

It's a decent pot-boiler, but in the end I finished it thinking how superb a writer Rosemary Sutcliff was . . .
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable if a little repetitive, 30 Nov 2013
By 
C. Stringer - See all my reviews
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I have thoroughly enjoyed the previous books in this series albeit they have to be taken with a large dose of historical salt. In this book, however, there is the first appearance of a problem that Fabbri will have to tackle as the series progresses. For the earlier books Vespasian is a blank page on which Fabbri can weave whatever historical fiction he wants. As time progresses, however, Vespasian becomes much clearer in the historical record such that the author is now constrained by actual historical events. In this case it's the invasion of Britain. There is still some scope for fictional elaboration but the second half of the book, which covers the invasion, consists of a series of battles in which legions wheel, pila are thrown, swords stab, heads are decapitated and guts spilt. I must confess to speed reading some of the latter battle scenes desperately hoping I didn't skip some detail that would drive the plot on.

I will definitely read the next book as I am keen to see how the author takes Vespasian's story forward, but more liberties will need to be taken with history if the series is not to become repetitive.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Action Movie in Written Form!, 4 Jun 2014
By 
K. Hughes - See all my reviews
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Just read the series! seriously, if you love Rome, Action, Swords, Military or classical history jump in heart first to this tale of Vespasian by a master of the mental image.... please let them make it a series but please let the author be involved! Try and get the first one first though! just perfect!
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must for all lovers of Rome and the Legions., 3 April 2014
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This was a well written book, with lots of action, a book that was easy to get into, a book that you didnt want to put down. A really good read.
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Rome's Fallen Eagle (Vespasian)
Rome's Fallen Eagle (Vespasian) by Robert Fabbri (Paperback - 3 July 2014)
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