Customer Review

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable enough radio play, 24 Jun 2011
This review is from: The Eagle of the Ninth (BBC Radio) (Audio CD)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
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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Review Details

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3.5 out of 5 stars (54 customer reviews)
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Reviewer

James Rands
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Location: Europe

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