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4.7 out of 5 stars
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The Roman Legions are now well entrenched in Britain, but are still finding dogged resistance from the fearsome natives. Macro and Cato find themselves standing between victory and bloody defeat.
Cato is newly appointed to the rank of Centurion and it falls to him and Macro to provide an army of untrained recruits for the aged ruler Verica.
With an army of raw recruits can they halt the progress of a cunning opponent and plotters who are eager not only to destroy Macro and Cato but the whole of the Roman army.
Simon Scarrow has a wonderful feel for the period he writes about and his characters endear themselves to you the reader. These books are well researched and for anyone interested in this period of Britain's history are a great read. Fact mixed with fiction in the best possible way.
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on 15 January 2006
The same people, setting and ingredients as the 3 previous novels in the series but Scarrow brings it all together flawlessly. If you love action-packed historical novels can't go wrong with this one. Thanks again Simon!
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 15 April 2016
This is book 4 of Simon Scarrow’s “Eagle of the Empire” series. The first phase of the conquest of Britain has ended but Caradoc, the chief of the Catuvellani and heart of the resistance against Rome has escaped capture and retreated to the North-West (to what is now Wales) with the remnants of his army. The bulk of the Roman forces with Aulus Plautius have advanced to confront him while Vespasian (and Macro and Cato) with the Second Legion have “pacified” the South-West and taken dozens of hill-top forts and towns in the process. The problem is that the Roman supply lines have become extended and the territory behind the lines is far from being totally subdued.

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.
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on 8 December 2003
It might seem a bit premature to state that Simon Scarrow is a master of the historical novel genre. After all his series of novels set in the Roman legions numbers only four books, and as far as I am aware these are the only novels he has had published. But the quality of his writing really shines form the first page. Each book has opened with a pacy introduction to the ancient world and this latest is no exception. Our heroes, the brilliant but self-conscious Cato and the irrepressibly soldier-like Macro, are ordered to raise a private army to enfore the will of the ailing Atrebatan king, Verica. His court is riddled with plotters thirsting to be the new king. Outside the walls of the Atrebatan capital, enemy raiders are razing his kingdom. It is up to Macro and Cato to ensure that this vital ally to the Roman cause is kept safe and kept onside.
As ever the plotting is flawlessly involving, the action makes you feel as if you were there in the thick of battle and the characterisation makes you feel as if you know these men like old friends. The writing is crisp, punchy and occasionally striking in its preciseness and deployment of wit.
Christmas is coming. Now you know what to put at the top of the list when you write to Santa!
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 10 August 2011
BRIEF STORY DETAILS - SLIGHT SPOILERS

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!).
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on 4 February 2014
I'm a fan of Macro and Cato and this is well up to their usual standard. Well written and nicely woven around real historical characters and events. I like the style in that the conversation is readable and modern rather than attempting cod Roman. Mr Scarrow doesn't go overboard on vivid gut spilling, a pleasant change that other writers could learn from.
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on 4 September 2003
Recovering from the injuries received in WHEN THE EAGLE HUNTS Macro and Cato are given the job of training some native units to protect the aged kind of the Atrebates. Meanwhile, they have to cope with enemy raids, plotters within the tribe and a headstrong and noisome tribune. Treachery comes from an unexpected source and within hours the whole position of the Roman army in Britain is placed in jeopardy. Caratacus is within an ace of defeating Rome. Can Cato and Macro save the day? Well, what do you think?
As ever the heroes speak like real people, the prose is crisp and elegant and the sense of time and place utterly compelling. I think this is the best of the lot so far and can only wait a long frustrating year before the next helping of classy entertainment is dished up by Simon Scarrow
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on 19 August 2003
The 4th book in the Cato and Macro series sees our two heroes back in action again after suffering major injuries. Due to the increasing attacks of Caratacus and his allies, Roman supply lines have become dangerously overstretched. To alleviate the situation, Cato and Macro have been given the task of welding together an auxiliary force from the friendly Atrebatan army of King Verica of Calleva. To complicate matters however, there is a strong anti-Roman feeling in the town with disgruntled townsfolk all too willing to change sides and various Celtic noblemen who will stop at nothing to be named Verica's heir. The presence of an overly ambitious tribune adds fuel to the flames. The whole situation is thrown into further confusion by an assassination attempt on the King.
Cato himself has to struggle to adjust to his new promotion position aided/hindered by the blunt Macro.
So why only the 3 stars ? Well, after 4 books I was rather hoping for more detail on the background on the personalities involved. Take the lovely Macro for instance. All I can recall of his physical description is that he is short (squat) and hairy! No word about his family, reasons for joining the army or anything. Not a word in this book either about his failed romance with Boudicca. Vespasian seems to have become cold and
cruel without any indication of why.
In the interests of fairness there are good points as well;
Scarrow's writing is lively and conveys a good sense of conflicting loyalaties and the dreadful penalties to pay for choosing the wrong side. The battle scenes are stirring and imaginative. A rather bittersweet ending too.
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Scarrow is someone that has only recently been recommended to me by a reader of the site (cheers Robin) and as such is an author that I feel having read is one that deserves to have his work mentioned. Many people know of authors such as Bernard Cornwell and Steven Pressfield and know the sort of historical fiction that they write. But what does Simon's work have to offer readers?
Whilst many authors base thier characters in a more modern time, Simon's work is based during the Roman invasion of Britain during the first century and makes great use of not only the political strife of Rome at the time but also the beliefs of the peoples involved during this period of great conflict. An altogther rich environment full of intrigue which shows clearly in Scarrow's lovingly crafted work.
The tales centre around two characters in the roman legion and we follow thier careers as the series progresses, however unlike other authors, he isn't afraid to put them not only in mortal peril but will allow a soldiers language to accompany the situations, which is something that many authors leave out feeling that it would ruin the content of thier novel. Far from ruining it, this sort of careful consideration actually throws the reader a chance to see the emotional side of the characters in addition to making them more believeable.
Perhaps the greatest testimony to an author is recommendations by readers and as such Scarrow is starting to build a huge fanbase through not only those who have followed his work since the beginning but also by those who are new converts to the cause to which I am probably one of the newest members. As such I really don't think it will be too long before the fans will number more than enough for a number of legions marching under the banner of Scarrow's Eagle for the glory of Rome.
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on 13 January 2016
Extremely well written, fast paced, excellent characterisation and absorbing. Has rekindled an interest in Roman History especially as the action in the series takes place in areas which you can still visit today.
Thoroughly recommended
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