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The Eagle and the Wolves (Eagles of the Empire 4) Paperback – 13 Nov 2008
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Praise for Simon Scarrow's novels: 'I really don't need this kind of competition... It's a great read' (Bernard Cornwell)
Scarrow's [novels] rank with the best (Independent)
Ferocious and compelling (Daily Express)
Gripping and moving (The Times)
A satisfyingly bloodthirsty, bawdy romp...perfect for Bernard Cornwell addicts who will relish its historical detail and fast-paced action. Storming stuff (Good Book Guide)
A Rome full of HOUSE OF CARDS treachery... Roman soldiering at its very best - even by Scarrow's high standards - in this winning chunk of historical fiction (Sunday Sport)
Rollicking good fun (Mail on Sunday)
A fast-moving and exceptionally well-paced historical thriller (BBC History Magazine)
Britannia, AD 44. Centurions Macro and Cato (the latter newly promoted) face trouble on two fronts - from the rebellious tribes, and from a deadly plot directly targetting the two soldiers. The powerful fourth novel in Simon Scarrow's bestselling Eagles of the Empire series, which includes BRITANNIA, CENTURION and INVICTUS.See all Product description
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The story begins as Cato and Macro are recovering (especially Cato, grievously wounded in the previous episode) at Calleva, the Roman rear base and supply depot. The King of the Atrebates – Verica (a historical character) is pro-Roman but not all of the Atrebates are and many fought against the Romans. Because the Romans cannot spare enough soldiers to garrison Calleva, Cato and Macro are tasked with forming and training two cohorts of auxiliaries out of the Attrebate warriors, cohorts which will fight hard and give their best against the common enemy.
This is probably one my favourites titles in the whole series. It includes the usual themes developed by Simon Scarrow, such as the rough bantering and friendship of the comrade-in-arms Cato and Macro and the usual desperate fighting. One valuable element with this is to make the story more plausible and to show that the conquest of Britain was no “walk in the park”. Resistance was fierce and Romans suffered setbacks, as shown in the book. It also helps to explain why it took so long (about a decade) to subdue only the southern part of Britain.
This volume, however, also introduces somewhat different themes. One is the fact that Rome was in fact supported by a number of chieftains and at least part if not all of their respective tribes. Rather skilfully, Rome exploited old rivalries, hatreds and the settling of old scores against the Catuvallani which had previously been dominant and seem to have caused the exile of Verica King of the Atrebates. The point here is that such support certainly helped the Romans although, as shown in the book, it may not have been wholehearted. No levy and formation of auxiliary cohorts of Britons to fight against Britons from other tribes are recorded although, given the circumstances described in the book, this could have taken place since the fall of Calleva to Caredoc would in fact have cut-off the Roman forces from their supplies and any reinforcements.
Another more moving theme is that of loyalty, trust and the warrior ethos as the Wolves develop a sense of a new common identity and pride under the harsh training of their Roman centurions. The way the author presents their faithfulness and their fate is rather moving and not exactly to the credit of the Roman command, although the latter’s behaviour is perhaps understandable given the dramatic circumstances.
The battles, both outside and within Calleva, are simply griping. An interesting feature used by the author in a number of his novels is to show that the noble warrior elite were “professionals”, probably just as well armed as the Romans and just as dangerous, as shown for instance in the last battle. The intrigues and plots within the ruling caste and families of the Atrebates, with the divide between pro and anti-Roman matching rivalries for leadership, is also well done.
Easily worth five stars.
44 AD, and in south-west Britain Vespasian, commander of the Second Legion, Centurion Macro and newly appointed centurion Cato in the thick of the fighting. Verica and his Atrebatans align with Rome but revolt against the invasion spreads. Macro and Cato fight for their lives as a Rome itself is threatened by political plot
SAFE READING _ NO SPOILERS
I have read all the "Eagle" series in order, followed the careers of Cato and Macro with great interest and eagerly await the already pre-ordered "Praetorian".
Not the heights of Literature (nor pretending to be), but well-written nevertheless, the series is filled with his great depth of knowledge, enthusiasm for and interest in the Romans.
Cunningly peopled with all the names from our history lessons - Vespasian, Cladius, Caratacus, Boudica - and the Roman campaigns to extend the Empire but centred on two Roman soldiers who become unlikely close friends, Macro and Cato, their careers and friendship carries the stories along. Following them closely allows the intimate details of human life to be in the forefront while the everyday lives of Roman soldiers and the political intrigues of the Roman Empire provide the backdrop.
PS I found it helpful to have a one-page list of Roman army ranks, which I used as a bookmark, and I had the odd glance at ancient maps (not mine I hasten to add!).
The treachery and betrayal of humans has not changed in over 2000 years.
I gave this book 4 stars, have read the previous three and come to like the main characters with their display of strength and flaws. I always hope the Romans triumph (well they have to, they were the power in the known world)
As Simon Scarrow is a professor of Roman history, he demonstrates this acute knowledge down to its infinite detail, weaves fact and fiction well into a fastpaced tension filled and humorous narrative. I laughed out loud in some sections of the novel. Love Macros character. Though I find the dialogue very modern and colloquial, but soldiers would have probably spoken that way in ancient Latin, just visualize it.
anyway intend to finish all 10 novels. I am immersed in it. Wonderful!