10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
I have taken a long while to get round to this, it's been in my reading pile for a couple of years. I very much enjoyed the first one but for some reason this kept being pushed to the back of the pile, along with the follow up which is also in there. Well that was my mistake, because this is good stuff.
Following on from The Forgotten Legion (captured Legionaries being forced to fight for the Parthians) we find the soldiers far out to the East protecting the Parthian borders against the likes of the Scythians (nomadic tribesmen). The focus is on Romulus a Roman, Brennus a massive Gaul and Tarquinius a soothsayer. Mistrusted by their Parthian masters and some of their fellow Legionaries, the trio are desperate to get home and hope that Tarquinius's visions will keep them alive and help them realise their destinies.
Back in Rome, Romulus's sister Fabiola is the lover of Brutus who is away in Gaul with Caesar at a time where violent gangs are running wild in Rome and the Roman empire itself is on the edge of anarchy.
The best historical fiction does not just place characters in an era, but involves them in significant events of the time and has peripheral characters we will recognise. Ben Kane has done the research to provide a real and vibrant background to his story. The balance of the battles out in the East and the politics of Rome is an interesting one and although on one or two occasions the author does build up an interest in characters, only to then discard them, the story remains interesting and unpredictable.
I enjoyed it and am surprised at some criticism in other reviews, this is a good follow up to The Forgotten Legion and Ben Kane continues to be an author to watch.
43 of 47 people found the following review helpful
on 8 August 2009
I qualify my review by saying I haven't read Iggulden, Scarrow et al, so I came to this series with no benchmark in the genre. The closest my usual interest gets is in reading military history, where my bias lies in accounts of the experiences of the foot soldiers, and that aspect is what drew me in to this excellent series.
Where the Forgotten Legion introduces the characters and plot, from the sweat and dust of the arena to the intrigues of the brothel - the Silver Eagle picks up where the action left off and brings it to another level. The action is relentless and it's scope is epic, blending the wars and politics of the Republic to adventures at the edges of the known world. The characters develop well as the twins mature and become more world-wise and Tarquinius is more dark and ambiguous. This book has been greatly enhanced by the addition of a very informative glossary.
The bottom line for me is that I'm hooked and can't wait to find out what happens next - the mark of a great book.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 10 February 2011
After reading The Forgotten Legion last week and having thoroughly enjoyed it, I decided to read the Silver Eagle this week (after a brief interlude with Simon Scarrows Gladiator: Fight for Freedom) to see where Romulus and company had got to and what had happened to them after they had had been captured by the Parthians and made to fight in their army.
Book two of the Forgotten Legion Chronicles finds the intrepid threesome in the frozen winter of Eastern Margiana operating out of a Roman style fort built by the survivors in the legion, fighting against the Sychians, built nearby are small fortlets. Meanwhile Fabiola is a freedwoman having been bought out of slavery by Brutus, trusted friend of General Giaus Julius Caesar.
With a huge revolt in Gaul, Caesars legions are fighting a bitter war whilst Cato and Pompey are plotting his downfall from the safety of Rome, where trouble is also brewing with rioting on the streets. With Vercengetorex withdrawing hundreds of thousands of warriors to Alesia a major battle is in the offing for Caesars army of sixty thousand.
The Silver Eagle in my opinion with the above back drop is equally as good as The Forgotten Legion. Ben Kane manages once again to produce an exciting story that easily enables you to 'feel' what the main characters are experiencing and for you to visualise his story whilst at the same time combining factual history in his books.
There are a few revelations in the Silver Eagle that explain some of the topics in the Forgotten Legion, that were unsuspected. It brings the reader quite cleverly to a place where The Road to Rome starts for what I believe is the conclusion to the storyline. Another cracking romp through Roman history with great characters that is highly recommended, keep it going Ben!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
OK, so I didn't have to wait too long for this. (In fact just long enough to get a cup of tea, a couple of biscuits to help keep my strength up and a trip to the loo.) But what could I expect from this? Would the writing stand out as much, would the characters grow and perhaps more importantly would the author continue to build on the world and not have it fall down upon his ears.
First of all, the title picks up where the last left off and lets just say that Ben really did give the readers a bloody nose with number of combat sequences within, its brutal, its bloody and above all it's really got a lot of passion behind it.
Whilst many may rail against some of the simplicity and compare it against firm fan favourites like Scarrow or even Iggulden, the titles by each author have to be taken on their own merit. Or rather than comparing to an already complete series should be compared only that far, so in this case up to book two by each author. Against these first to, you'll notice that the author has established a pretty vivid and different world to those by the other authors. It's different to the norm and I feel that its this difference that may have other railing against this pretty unique piece of writing.
Its fun, it's a brave new world and above all else its got descent character growth that really does allow the reader to immerse themselves in something novel and new. A great title and one that has left me clamouring for the next title.
15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on 1 July 2009
I bought the Forgotten Legion on e-book and read it on holiday-I enjoyed it . The Silver Eagle is also enjoyable but the slight element of mysticism in the first book has now been somewhat overplayed-several characters now have visions of the future .I would prefer Ben Kane to stick more to gritty historical fiction-but that is just a personal opinion (I will still buy the next one !)
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 19 September 2012
Having read the first in the series of this sand and sandles epic I was looking forward to this one as it was striking out into unknown territory. The lost legions of the east and modern day references to blue eyed inhabitants with Caucasian features in the towns around the western Gobi stimulated that interest. I was disapointed, not only did it take an age to get halfway there and no further, but the constant flashbacks to the wretched sister, who's story would have best been told in a seperate volume, meant that by page 250 I was speed reading which is a shame because the story could have been so much better.
I have volume three in the series and intend leaving it for awhile but as it runs to 600 pages I can see another dose of boredom setting in. My advice would be a limit around 400 pages, a lot less padding, ditch the girl, less of the soothsayer visionary stuff and focus an undoubted talent for historical faction.
I am not sure whether I will continue after number three somehow I doubt it
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
With the Roman genre rapidly expanding it is not easy to keep up with all the new authors in the genre. It is also not so easy to know who is worth your ££ and pence and who isnt.
Ben Kane is one i can assure you is worth it. after the first book i was hooked, his mix of fact fiction and Myth sets the book apart from the usual mundane, add in the pace and characterisation of the calibre of Scarrow and Riches and you get an idea of his skills.
Im well and truly left adrift at the end of each book gagging for the next one longing to know what will be the next episode in the lives of these new friends i have made (Romulus, Brennus, Tarquinius & Fabiola) add to that the tantalising hints at parentage the back drop of the Roman , Scythian, Etruscan and many other worlds and you can see why Ben Kane is a new power in this Genre, long may he remain.
on 10 July 2015
Engaging tale of war, politics and intrigue set in the Roman Empire. Superior to most of the puerile drivel written about this era and with enough historical detail to keep the reader engaged. It follows the tale of our heroes the boy and girl twins through their many adventures with enough real characters thrown in (Julius Caesar, Pompeii, Crassus, Brutus, Mark Anthony) and actual historical events to hold the attention. The descriptions of Roman life are very good, what was it like to be a soldier in a legion or a gladiator being prepared to entertain the roman mob. Our heroine is cast as a prostitue in an upmarket brothel and her efforts to learn about the aristocracy and politics through senior men to engineer her escape from slavery are entertaining and plausible enough to grip the average reader. Doubtless a more serious historian would find many holes in these descriptions of Roman life but it seems just about believable.
The main problem with this book and the whole series is the Hollywood style perfection of our heroes which becomes intensely irritating. Romulus turns into the ultimate Brad Pitt who fights off (together with his loyal comrades) ridiculous numbers of gladiators, Romans, Parthians, Scythians under impossible odds, just like some absurd ancient Rambo. Fabiola is so impossibly beautiful that every single male in the ancient world is doomed to fall utterly gobsmacked by her full breasted and irresistable body, including Brutus who seems happy to overlook the fact that she has shagged the entire upper class male population of Rome before him, and present her to Caesar as his lover.
The other piece of absolute nonsense is the ability of the various soothsayers to predict the future perfectly by gazing into the sky at birds or examining animal entrails. Augers and prophets did indeed exist in the ancient world and were extremely important and highly regarded but in reality of course were not using animal livers or bird formations, they were tools of the state to convince the masses that their leaders were following the right path, or to convince soldiers to sacrifice themselves for a glorious cause or suchlike.
Not sure if I will buy the next book in this series, this one was just too irritating. Its nearly excellent but I think my 3 stars is a fair reflection of the 5 star historical background and plot against the 1 star annoyance of the players.
on 17 February 2015
I thought Ben Kane's debut novel ''The Forgotten Legion'' was excellent, but that it ended a little abruptly, even with the knowledge there was more to come. Having now read that "more to come", I feel a lot better about it. The story is so relentless that there was no obvious place to pause between books.
Fabiola, having been bought out of prostitution by Brutus, one of Caesar's closest allies, is living on his estate in Pompeii. Life seems to be going well, but soon after her arrival she is involved in a confrontation with Scaevola, a man hired to hunt down runaway slaves. Frightened by his promise of reprisals, Fabiola flees back to Rome, but on finding the city in disarray and close to civil war, she heads for Gaul to find Brutus and safety.
Fabiola is haunted by not knowing if her brother is alive, after his legion was defeated at Carrhae. Romulus, however, has been captured by the Parthians and forced to join their army in the distant East, along with his friends Brennus and Tarquinius. However, not all is well, as Tarquinius' ability to read the future has deserted him and Brennus and Romulus have been exposed as slaves by some of their fellow legionaries and are being shunned and threatened. Romulus is desperate to return to Rome to find Fabiola, but he can't see a way to escape his situation other than being killed in battle.
There's a slightly different feel to ''The Silver Eagle'' after ''The Forgotten Legion''. Before, much of the story took place in battle or in the gladiatorial arena, with the characters fighting to survive. Here, there is a much greater focus on the politics and power plays rather than physical struggles. The situations are less tangible and it's more of a latent threat than the mortal danger the characters found themselves in before. There may be less action here, but there's more menace and the story seems to stalk the reader through darkened streets rather than drag you along in a headlong rush.
It's not often a writer is as comfortable writing detailed, slow moving plot as they are at writing action, but Kane certainly is. His sense of pacing in both styles is perfect and he switches between the thrust of action and the steadier pace of politics with ease. It helps that the politics of First Century B. C. Rome were quiet violent, but the story never drags for a moment.
Some of the reason for this can be found in the vividness of Kane's writing. In ''The Forgotten Legion'' you could almost smell the blood being spilled and hear the screams of dying men. With fewer battles, there is less of this, but Kane describes landscapes and cities with the same care and detail. There's a part where characters land on the African coast and see certain animals for the first time which is particularly descriptive.
It's not just in the visual field that Kane shines, but also in the emotional. The shame Fabiola feels at some of her actions is so well written I could share it with her. The combination of sights and emotions when she sees a corpse strewn battlefield is palpable and the nausea the reader feels is one part Fabiola's and one part our own. The only way Kane could have got the smells of rotting corpses across any better would have been in a scratch and sniff novel.
As with the mid-parts of some series, I did feel that the main point of the book was the manoeuvre characters into positions for the end game. Having followed the characters through two books, it is clear that there is still much more to come, but also that destinations and destinies are near. Where such books often fill little purpose than to kill time and move characters around, Kane inputs enough story here to make this a worthwhile read. He may be playing chess with his characters, but he does so with such style that if chess could match it, it would be a spectator sport.
Kane has also addressed what I felt was the one failing of the original book. Here, he has found a natural break in the story and used it as the perfect point to pause. He's also left it in such a place that if this were a television series, you'd be fully expecting the theme tune to strike up and the credits to roll. This is no sudden stop, but a well worked cliffhanger.
This is a great combination of everything you should find in a decent book. It's a well-researched historical thriller, full of action and intrigue and written with vivid descriptions and full of well-drawn characters. This is as close to a master class in all the varied aspects of writing as you can get and it's a class worth taking.
This review may also appear, in whole or in part, under my name at any or all of www.ciao.co.uk, www.thebookbag.co.uk, www.goodreads.com, www.amazon.co.uk and www.dooyoo.co.uk
on 1 February 2012
The Forgotten Legion series is one of the strongest series set in ancient Rome that has been produced to date. The scope of the series in length of years, geographical reach, depth of character and intertwining some of the most tumultuous and important events in the history of he world with the life story of a small number of fictional characters is phenomenal. As a series, it is impossible not to pick up the next book and read on...
This, the second book in the series, is my clear favourite. The reason for this is that, while the first and third novels are masterful, the Silver Eagle takes us outside the known world of Rome and introduces us to other cultures. It is Ben's most imaginitive novel and gives him the best opportunity to show off his talents.
By this point, the characters have very much grown into themselves and are familiar and sympathetic. Their talents and idiosyncracies drive the story just as much as the events beyond their control. The story was full of interesting sights and sounds, strange facts and unusual locations as Romulus and his companions strive to return to the known world. In the meantime, events unfold in Rome and around the republic as his sister becomes ever more deeply entangled in the intrigues of Rome.
I found the book hard to put down and went immediately to read the third. I have to say that this story was the one that I went into with a little trepidation, given its scale and the need to bring the story back to a certain point within its pages. I wasn't sure that could be done convincingly, yet it was.