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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well produced radio play of a marvellous book
THE EAGLE OF THE NINTH BBC RADIO AUDIO DRAMA CD

There can be very few school boys of the 1950's who had not read and enjoyed the historical novels of Rosemary Sutcliff. For myself, The Eagle of the Ninth was probably my first introduction to the historical novel and the book that hooked me onto the genre for life.

The release of the new film `The...
Published 17 months ago by BlackBrigand

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars OK - but does not really work
First of all, I have never read the book on which this is based. I understand it is considered a classic, and therefore I can only assume that this production does not really do it justice.

The story (as told in this version) is a fairly straightforward "quest" - hero seeks treasure against the odds, survives various scrapes through cunning, luck and courage,...
Published on 26 May 2011 by leftfooter


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars OK - but does not really work, 26 May 2011
By 
leftfooter "leftfooter" (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Eagle of the Ninth (BBC Radio) (Audio CD)
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First of all, I have never read the book on which this is based. I understand it is considered a classic, and therefore I can only assume that this production does not really do it justice.

The story (as told in this version) is a fairly straightforward "quest" - hero seeks treasure against the odds, survives various scrapes through cunning, luck and courage, etc. Maybe the subtleties of the book have been stripped away, but there is not much 'mystery' to be solved (despite what the blurb says).

The cast do a fairly solid job, and the main characters are likeable enough, but fundamentally I feel this story does not suit an audio adaptation. The raucous battle scenes and the stealthy hiding ones would be great on film - here they are reduced to a lot of atmospheric shouting and heavy breathing. The inner psychological turmoil of the characters cannot be conveyed in the same way as a descriptive passage in a book.

The musical interludes are presumably intended to sound like 'authentic' romano-british - lots of blaring trumpets slightly off-key. The accents are again a curious mixture. The decision seems to be to use the actors normal (modern) accents for the "cultured" Romans, whilst the British are a rag-tag of scottish brogues. I felt that the latter actors were doing a sort of "olde worlde celtic" (like some actors do "olde worlde english" for Shakespeare). Anyone from outside Britain would probably struggle to follow them.

Despite all of the above, I did listen to the CDs in 2 sittings, and was captured enough to listen to the end. This would definitely pass a couple of hours on a journey, but you would only listen to it once, I fear. If you were a passenger, you might be better spending the hours reading the original book!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Ok, but too simplistic a rendering, 28 May 2011
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This review is from: The Eagle of the Ninth (BBC Radio) (Audio CD)
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I've not read the book, but I'm not sure that the Eagle of the Ninth works as an audio book. Telling the tale of a battle standard lost far north of Hadrian's Wall, a Roman centurion, Marcus Aquila, badly wounded in battle and unable to return to his legion, sets out with his British body servant to retrieve the standard. Adventure ensues...

My main complaint is the length of the audiobook. I'm not sure how many sittings would make it unmanageable, but it's just not long enough to establish credible characters subtly. I finished it in a single two-hour sitting, and the character development is fairly clunky. Marcus is brave because of how he is wounded, he is fair because of how he acquires his body servant - but these characteristics are all developed in single episodes. He becomes fast friends with his servant and they seem to trust each other implicitly - for no real reason.

The voice acting is ok - slightly clunky, but not bad. The sound effects aren't great - lots of heavy breathing for battle scenes and discordant music. It's a nice story, but again, the length makes it over simplistic; without giving too much away, the first person they come across north of the wall gives them the location of the lost standard. I'm not sure whether that's a criticism of the book or the audiobook though.

Overall, it's entertaining and listenable to - I didn't want to stop and do something else whilst I was listening to it - but I'm not sure if I'll come back to it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well produced radio play of a marvellous book, 10 July 2013
By 
This review is from: The Eagle of the Ninth (BBC Radio) (Audio CD)
THE EAGLE OF THE NINTH BBC RADIO AUDIO DRAMA CD

There can be very few school boys of the 1950's who had not read and enjoyed the historical novels of Rosemary Sutcliff. For myself, The Eagle of the Ninth was probably my first introduction to the historical novel and the book that hooked me onto the genre for life.

The release of the new film `The Eagle' has triggered a new world wide interest in Rosemary Sutcliff's Roman books with new editions in the bookshops and a belated re-release of the BBC Radio drama on CD. I have owned the cassette edition since it was released in 1999 and have been waiting for the CD release for over ten years.

THE EAGLE OF THE NINTH follows the adventures of a young Roman soldier who is determined to discover the truth about the disappearance of his father, the legion eagle standard and the 4000 soldiers of the Ninth Legion who marched into Ultima Thule (present day Scotland or Alba) never to be seen of heard of again. My personal favourite of the three Roman Britain novels, the story is well crafted, exciting and the historical background and locations realistic and generally accurate.

The radio play is well scripted with good performances from the cast BBC Radio Scotland cast of stock players none of whom are particularlt well known beyond radio drama and has a haunting sound track which features the use of authentic reproductions of Roman horns. The play is taken from a book which is build around action and therefore it does lose some of impact, combat on radio always seems a bit flat and much less exciting than in the original book but it is never-the-less a well produced play.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Dusted off in time for the movie!, 1 Jun 2011
By 
Mr. J. C. Clubb "byshee" - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Eagle of the Ninth (BBC Radio) (Audio CD)
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The Eagle of the Ninth (audio play)

Plot:

The audio play tells a tale of a noble and very brave centurion, Marcus Aquila (Tom Smith) who is almost crippled when he attacks an enemy chariot in battle. As he recovers he saves the life of a gladiator, Esca (Tony Kearney), and buys him as his slave. Having formed a bond with the man he then releases him from slavery, but asks him if he would like to accompany him on a perilous journey. Impressed by his former master's kindness and a desire to see the homeland he was originally taken from, Esca agrees to accompany Marcus.

Marcus's mission is to find the Eagle of the Ninth Legion. This standard is thought to be in the possession of a Caledonian tribe in the north of Britain, a tribe that destroyed the Ninth Legion in 117 AD, not long after the erection of Hadrian's Wall. This legion's demise brings possible disgrace on the Roman Empire and the thought of a British tribe using it as inspiration for others, is enough encouragement for Marcus's superiors to let him go on the mission. However, Marcus has other reasons for going on the quest. He wishes to discover the truth about the last stand of the legions of First Cohort Commander - his father...

Review:

With 2011's release of a somewhat amped up and bloodthirsty major motion picture rendition of the much loved children's classic "The Eagle of the Ninth" by Rosemary Sutcliff (filmed under the alternative publication title, "The Eagle") it is little surprising that earlier dramatizations would suddenly get the re-release treatment. This radio play was last aired in 1996. It was a good decade for Radio 4's radio plays and one that saw such ambitious projects as the full dramatization of the complete works Sherlock Holmes - the first and only time this has ever been done in any medium. "The Eagle of the Ninth" is a well produced drama, but - with all due respect to the able cast - it contains no obvious stars. The book has remained popular since its publication in 1954, so it was hardly a controversial decision to dramatize it in the first place, but there is no record to indicate it was a popular adaption. It would probably have been gathering dust in the archives if it wasn't for the release of "The Eagle" film. The fact that there wasn't a dramatization of any of the book's sequels would seem confirm this statement.

The play is well produced with good sound effects and a capable cast of BBC character actors. The musical soundtrack is comprised of contemporaneous Roman instruments and there is a feel of authenticity to the work. Unfortunately the action that drove the book and the new movie are conspicuously lacking. "The Eagle of the Ninth" is a story about relationships and contains a cast of interesting characters, but its appeal comes from the physical action described - both through flashback sequences and in the main story. This is not easy to convey in radio dramas and I have heard a wide variety of successes and failures in this department. Director Sêan Damer works well with the "talkie" scenes, but he might have done well to have taken a leaf out of Jane Morgan and Penny Leicester's 1981 very good adaption of "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy. Exposition is a difficult and dangerous technique to use, but it is pretty essential for radio plays, especially those that contain a lot of action. "The Lord of the Rings" slips up a little from time to time, but mainly carries it off. "The Eagle of the Ninth" could have done the same, as can be seen during Esca's brief gladiatorial bout and with the discovery the Eagle. Instead they err on the side of caution and the result is a rather uneventful action adventure story.

That being said, the script is managed fairly well and the scenes that deal with storytelling are entertaining enough. For those seeking more depth to the film adaptation I would point them to Sutcliff's book. However, more patient fans won't be disappointed by the fact that the BBC team remained loyal to the original text and might enjoy experiencing the tale through another medium.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Much better than I was expecting!, 21 Dec 2011
By 
Steampunk "JS" (Northern Ireland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Eagle of the Ninth (BBC Radio) (Audio CD)
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NO SPOILERS.

I had this set of disks in my hot little hands before I realised that a)it was a dramatisation of the book, not a reading of the book itself, and b) the original book was actually a 'young adults' book.

Both a) and b) left me feeling 'I'm not really going to enjoy this...'

I needn't have worried. It really is a cracking yarn, and the dramatisation is first-rate. I don't want to spoil the story in any way, but if you have the slightest interest in the Roman/Ancient world, Ancient Britain, or if you just enjoy a good story, then I recommend this very highly. It's two hours of very enjoyable listening!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent adaptation, 18 Aug 2011
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This review is from: The Eagle of the Ninth (BBC Radio) (Audio CD)
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The Eagle of the Ninth (BBC Radio) This is an excellent adaptation of Sutcliffe's perenially popular tale of a young man's trip into the wilds of Roman-occupied Britain to establish exactly what happened to the Ninth Legion, of which his late father was a member.

The ensemble cast is pitch perfect, and the adaptation works very well - as you might expect from the BBC's radio drama department.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Eagle Of The Ninth, 5 Aug 2011
By 
mall1990 "dotially" (St. Annes, Great Britain) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Eagle of the Ninth (BBC Radio) (Audio CD)
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This is a must for anyone who has seen the recent film The Eagle (shortened title for American audiences who wouldn't have wanted to have watched a film which was the 9th in a series!). The story charts the tale of a young Roman officer searching to recover the lost Roman eagle standard of his father's legion in the north of Britain. The sound effects really add great detail to this epic drama and I would highly reccomend this CD. 9/10.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An engrossing listen., 28 July 2011
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Lily (Sheffield UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Eagle of the Ninth (BBC Radio) (Audio CD)
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This is a super BBC dramatisation which has recently been adapted as a film, The Eagle. It is a tale of honour, comradeship and courage. It tells the story of Marcus Aquila, a young centurion, who journeys to discover the truth about the disappearance of a Roman Garrison called The Ninth Legion. His mission is to return their standard, The Eagle of the Ninth.

It is an engrossing, well-acted drama that is an excellent accompaniment to a long car journey. Recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable enough radio play, 24 Jun 2011
By 
James Rands (Europe) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Eagle of the Ninth (BBC Radio) (Audio CD)
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This is a radio play rather than an audio book so there's plenty of different actors and the BBC sound effects store has had fun filling the background with drums, chariots, hoofbeats and drunken celts.

The story centres around the legend of the ninth legion (as does the film "Centurion"). There don't seem to be any records of the ninth legion after it mounted an expedition north of Hadrian's Wall which has led to various stories of how it was destroyed. This is one.

The story starts with Roman officers and NCOs standing over a fevered and badly wounded young officer who has brought down a celtic chariot alone. We follow the wounded Marcus as he convalesces and shows that he may be ferociously brave but he is no butcher and has a sensitive side. One evening talk of the fate of the Eagle of the Ninth being displayed by tribes and worshipped as a god peaks his interest. Marcus' father was a Centurion of the Ninth and Marcus offers himself up as a secret agent to conduct a mission beyond the wall and recapture the eagle. Disguised and accompanied by the freed slave Esker he heads North and through a series of adventures finds the eagle, uncovers his father's story and then embarks on a race south as he is pursued by angry tribesmen.

The story is not quite as blood and thunder as I think it is portrayed. There is a lot of Esker and Marcus chatting and not a great deal of action. Marcus makes friends easily and the whole task of finding his way to the eagle seems a little bit easy. There's some tension but more honourable exchanges between mutually respectful warriors. I haven't read the original book but I would hazard a guess that quite a lot of the linking elements of the story were dropped for the radio. It works as a story but it isn't brilliant and the last of four episodes is mostly Marcus chatting and contemplating a life after his adventure alongside Esker.

The audio is good, though it is unmistakeably a BBC radio play with the distant sounds that chime in for just long enough to introduce each scene. The Romans speak with English accents whilst the Celts speak with Scottish accents which occassionally veer away from the Highlands to the valleys of Wales sometimes via the Giants' Causeway. The elderly Romans all seem to have booming voices - a little like the actors in Blackadder the Third.

Overall, I enjoyed this but it's not brilliant. I suspect the book just doesn't translate that well to the radio. I would probably give it 3 1/2 stars if that were an option.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Roman in the gloaming, 11 Jun 2011
By 
R. A. Caton "Arcaton" (London United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Eagle of the Ninth (BBC Radio) (Audio CD)
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Pardon the pun.....This recording deserves much better. We have here a Radio 4 full cast dramatisation from June 1996 and it reminds me very much of the Schools broadcasts of my youth. The dramatisation is in four episodes, clearly delineated although the continuity announcements are missing from the second, third and fourth episodes.
Each episode ends on a cliff hanger, but the tale of Marcus and his friend Esca is a good one and will keep the listener enthralled. I didn't recognise the names of any of the cast (not surprising) but they did a sterling job, well up to the standards of the BBC.
I will not spoil the tale for those who have yet to hear it, but I can and will wholeheartedly recommend this pair of CDs.
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The Eagle of the Ninth (BBC Radio)
The Eagle of the Ninth (BBC Radio) by Rosemary Sutcliff (Audio CD - 3 Mar 2011)
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