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The Eagle's Prey (Eagles of the Empire 5) 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)
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)
Ferocious and compelling (Daily Express)
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)
AD 44, Britannia. A devastating defeat leaves the men of Rome's Second Legion with an impossible decision. The epic fifth novel in Simon Scarrow's bestselling Eagles of the Empire series, which includes UNDER THE EAGLE, CENTURION and INVICTUS.See all Product description
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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. Two niggles:the formatting annoys me in that the gaps between paragraphs are too long, particularly where there are long conversations, and they are a little over-priced.
Review of this book:
The saga continues! Macro and Cato find themselves involved in a fight which goes seriously wrong, thanks to a senior centurion who loses his nerve. As a result, their legion undergoes the punishment of decimation. The story is well written, as we now expect from the author, and is a real page turner. I do not want to put any spoilers in here, but I am doubtful as to whether the outcome of the story could ever have actually happened, but that is fiction for you!
44 AD and the second campaign is well under way. The Emperor wants Britain quelled. Centurions Macro and Cato lead their Second Legion under Centurion Maximus to trap Caratacus but he escapes. For their failure, General Plautius orders the decimation of the unit.
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!).
Scarrow has clearly researched the period history extremely well and constructed two excellent believable heros in Cato and Macro.
The book immerses us into the brutality and inequality of day to day Roman life. Human Rights and democracy were never a big issue with the Romans. Slavery, Nepotism and Despotic Emperors all help to remind why the Roman society did not survive for as long as they expected.