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on 11 September 2008
This is the 8th novel in Simon Scarrow's excellent series of books about Centurions Macro and Cato, and follows on from the `Eagles In The Sand'.

Book Summary : After a surprise attack by the Partians, Macro and Cato are ordered by Longinus to set out as a forward relief column to help King Vabathus of Palmyra, who has taken refuge in his cities own citadel from the rebel Army of his son, Artaxes. Meanwhile the rest of the Legions slowly march to their aid. Can our two brave heroes once again save the day by marching through the arid desert at arrive on time to defend the King from his infighting siblings ?

To those people that have never read one of Scarrow's Roman novels, I would like to say that these books are more about the everyday man in the Roman army than the famous historical figures that are known so well. They detail the hard life, the harshness and brutality of battle and the feeling of inaptitude of the Generals and upper class of Roman society.

Whilst I once again thoroughly enjoyed this book, I did at times feel that I was reading a re-write - albeit in another location, with new characters - of the previous book `Eagles In The Sand'. An eventful march to a fort/citadel, a stout defence and then attacking the opposition whilst they were sleeping - sound familiar ?

I would also like to say that I felt that Scarrow's writing of Marco and Cato in this novel seemed in places a lot more emotional than in previous books. Indeed Macro dealing with the young orphaned Roman girl in the citadel really pulls at the heart strings, showing a side to the character that has rarely been seen in the prior novels. Though I wonder where the author is going with Cato's new love interest and how that will relate to any new stories.

I will as always look forward to the next novel in this series, and hope that Scarrow takes the opportunity to come up with a new idea for a story ! Once again 5 out of 5, but may be a 4 next time if its another seemingly re-write !!!!
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on 14 November 2012
Review of the series (followed by a review of this book):
This series of books is based around the adventures of two men - Macro and Cato. Macro is a soldier through and through; he has spent his life in the army and is a centurion when we first meet him in the first book. In that book we also meet Cato who joins the legion as a new recruit, although he seems an unlikely candidate for a soldier. The series goes on to relate their many adventures and the relationship between them. Most of the stories are based - sometimes loosely - on real events and people, with a healthy dose of artistic license.
As far as I can tell the historical detail and facts are accurate, and the writing is generally engaging. There are criticisms in other reviews about the authors use of 'modern' slang; I know what they mean, but would we identify with 'roman' slang? For me, it is not a problem, I am not a fan of trying to invent historical language, it is too easy to fall into the 'ye olde shoppe' trap!
Overall, the series is very readable, and rolls along at a good pace. Like some other historical series, it doesn't do to try and fit the events into a timeline, as it soon becomes clear that the two men could not have done everything they do in one lifetime, but that doesn't detract from a fun series. I would also add that with this, the 8th book, the publishers have finally decided to format the kindle version properly! My only niggle now is that they are a little over-priced.
Review of this book.
Our heroes are still in the east, helping shore up their friendly neighbour Palmyra against one of Rome's greatest enemies, Parthia. Once agin, there is treachery around every corner, and lots of battles. There is even a romantic element in this episode, although I'm not sure it is the author's forte! This book is a return to form after the rather disappointing last book.
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on 28 December 2007
Simon Scarrow is a teacher at a Sixth Form College. He has run a Roman History programme that takes parties of students to a number of sites and museums across Britain and I assume that while doing this he gleans lots of useful information for his books on the Roman Centurions Macro and Cato.

This is the eighth book in a series started seven years ago and Cato the young boy who left the confines of the Palace in Rome and entered the army as an Optio (second in command to a Centurion) has now matured into a man, moulded in the image of his friend and mentor Macro. Both men are battle hardened Centurions, though Macro has a dozen years on Cato. They have fought together in Britain and many other parts of the Roman Empire.

Macro and Cato are shipped to yet another part of the Empire by the Roman senate and become embroiled in a fight to stabilise what is to all intents and purposes a neutral kingdom, Palmyra. As usual wherever the pair go trouble follows close behind and it is not long before the pair of them are engaged in trying to stop the forces of one of Rome's long standing enemies, Parthia, who having heard of Rome's presence in Palmyra decide it will be in their own best interest if they also send a force into the kingdom.

Macro and Cato are old friends to the readers of Simon Scarrow's books and their adventures are interesting and exciting, particularly for those interested in all things Roman and in particular the workings and make-up of the Roman Legions. These books are a good form of escapism from the every day drudgery.
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on 10 January 2008
Simon Scarrow is a brilliant author who has put a great deal of time into researching his books. I would personally compare him to Bernard Cornwell in that he writes books of fast paced action and comradeship between soldiers and the struggles of leading men in battle. These books are a must for someone interested in ancient history and in particular the roman legionaire and the empire. Set during the reign of cladius slightly after the death of jesus and during the conquering of southern britian, and hopefully the rise of vespasian in future?
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on 16 March 2017
An excellent story,well told ,exciting ,and well constructed.It takes you into the intriguing problems of who inherites what when there are more than one child.
Simon Scarrow is a master craftsman at storytelling!!
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on 15 April 2008
I thought Simon's last book Eagle in the sand was a little weaker than his high standards for the other Macro and Cato books. Centurion is however a return to original form and is an excellent read. Fast paced and I could not put it down in the last 100 odd pages. This is more in line with some of the earlier books in the series. All the characters are fleshed out very well and the strenghts and weaknesses of Macro and Cato are portrayed very well.
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Scarrow knocks out novel number eight in this series, and sadly it is not one of his best.

Macro and Cato are sent to Palmyras, a small kingdom just about under Rome's control, but an aggressive Parthia is seeking to move in. Add conflict in the Palmyras Royal household and the a city under siege and our Roman heroes have a lot on their plate.

But this novel is missing something, it lacks tension and complexity and sadly feels a little by the numbers. It's a shame because the earlier novels were so good, but this one feels a little tired I am sorry to say. It's not terrible, but just a little too average.
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After one so-so entry in the adventures of Roman soldiers Macro & Cato, Eagle in the Sand, Simon Scarrow puts the series right back on track with this latest book.

One of my niggles with Eagle in the Sand was that it failed to develop either Cato or Macro as characters. Part of the appeal of the series has been to watch Cato become a talented and experienced soldier under Macro's tutelage and in turn watch the rough edges be knocked off the older man by his younger friend's influence. Eagle in the Sand lacked that element of the previous books and was a weaker effort for it. Centurion on the other hand, has it in spades and by combining it with a truly entertaining and exciting storyline is one of the most successful entries in the series to date.

It also succeeds in laying the groundwork for future developments that could prove very interesting and help keep the series feeling fresh. With Centurion there is there very real sense that Cato, until now Macro's subordinate and pupil, is beginning to overtake the older man. There are also hints that the younger Centurion has it in him to rise far beyond his comparatively humble beginnings. If that is so and Scarrow does allow Cato to outstrip Macro then it will fundamentally change the dynamic between the two. The prospect of that happening in future books is an enticing one and will help maintain this reader's interest in the series.
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on 4 March 2015
With the abundance of Marco and Cato adventures that Simon Scarrow has written it would be easy to get a large vat of tar on the boil and paint the entire collection with the same brush, but this is simply not the case. There are similarities between the lot of them, after all Marco and Cato remain at their centre, but many of the stories have their own feel. ‘Centurion’ is what I would consider a battle book, dominated by some great action set pieces. Gone is some of the intrigue and guile of the last couple of outings and in their stead you some of the best fighting that Scarrow has written yet.

M and C find themselves having to march to Parthia and, once there, they are tasked with holding out against the superior, in number, rebels. Rather than have the entire book set as one long siege, Scarrow uses the opportunity of historic Parthia to explore different types of fighting from hit and run, to siege and even gallant retreat. ‘Centurion’ shows off Scarrow’s prowess as a military fiction writer even more than normal. At this point he is truly on par with some of the better work of Bernard Cornwell of Conn Iggulden.

To go with the fighting, Scarrow is also able to move the characters on a little. Cato meets a potential love interest and we begin to see Marco understand that his young charge may one day end up being his superior. As always it is the relationship between the two heroes that make the books so fun to read. Marco’s gruff military style and Cato’s brains. They are a magical mix and as long as Scarrow continues to right such exciting action, I look forward to following them for many more years yet.
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on 5 March 2008
This is the 8th book in one of the most enthralling series of books writen to date. Another Scarrow classic, on par, if not better, than all of the books before it. Simon Scarrow is a brilliant author and continues the tradition of writing books with gripping detail, emotional scenes and bloody battles.

Highly recommened to anyone who has read the ones before, but also to those new to the series. Buy now!
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