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Under the Eagle (Eagles of the Empire 1) Paperback – 7 Aug 2008
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Praise for Simon Scarrow: 'I really don't need this kind of competition... It's a great read' (Bernard Cornwell)
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)
Scarrow's [novels] rank with the best (Independent)
Gripping... ferocious and compelling, it is a story of blood, romance and sacrifice (Daily Express)
Rollicking good fun (Mail on Sunday)
[Simon Scarrow] blends together historical facts and characters to create a book that simply cannot be put down... Highly recommended (Historical Novels Review)
AD 42. As savage enemies rise against the Roman army in Germany, a deadly battle begins. The first novel in Simon Scarrow's bestselling Eagles of the Empire series, which includes THE GLADIATOR, BRITANNIA and INVICTUS.See all Product description
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He gradually develops the main characters, Cato & Macro, extremely well so that you almost feel that you know them and how they will react. He also weaves the stories between real historical events (just as Cornwell does) which gives me a better sense of realism and a small real history lesson too.
That aside, it's cheerful, undemanding stuff. The few women are wives or girlfriends, the only gay guy is dead, it's all very old-fashioned, but if you approach the series on that basis you'll have a very entertaining time.
When reading historical fiction sometimes authors will write in the style of the period in which it is set which is understandable, but with this book it is written in a contemporary style with lots of over the top swearing and modern words which made it refreshing to read and also gave it a good pace and no real yawn moments.
The book begins with an excellent prologue and sets the backbone for the story as it’s relevant by the end of the book. Then we move forward and the year is 42 AD and Quintus Licinius Cato has just arrived in Germany as a new recruit to the Second Legion. He has a special note from the Emperor giving him a quick rise through the ranks of the Roman Army and he becomes an Optio and becomes second in command under Centurion Lucius Cornelius Marco, this is where the story takes off and most of the story is built around the relationship of this too. Cato is only 17, merely a boy, and because he has jumped the ranks the others don’t like him and to make matters worse he still has to do the basic training with the other recruits.
The basic training reminded me of the film Full Metal Jacket, as we have a drill instructor called Bestia who makes the recruit’s lives a complete misery and Cato gets the worst of it because of his quick promotion, this makes for some very amusing scenes and extremely colourful language is belted out throughout this segment of the book.
I want to move on now to Marco and Cato’s relationship and this book really sees the two bond well. At the start Marco has no respect for the boy, who has come from a cosy life in Rome and has done nothing but read books but this is important as he has intelligence, but Cato doesn’t cover himself in glory, it has to be said at times he can be a complete imbecile, but as the story progresses Cato’s intelligence proves a winner and he gains the respect of Marco and more importantly the men under him.
One of my favourite parts of the book is Marco teasing Cato over his love sick attitude regarding a servant girl who he wants to make advancements towards. Marco really does wind him up which really made me laugh, but I also enjoyed the fact that Marco and Cato eventually become friends which made this book so worthwhile and definitely helps for the future of the series.
The other characters are all good as well and there is a lot of scheming as you would expect from the Romans; however it made a nice change for me as a reader to not have to read lots of long speeches which can happen and so many historical authors do have a tendency to feel the need to put them in.
The battles against the Germans and the Britons are of a high standard too which is a plus for me but the author didn’t feel the need to give graphic descriptions of people getting mutilated, he just kept it simple which helped the flow a lot.
Overall I really liked the book, it was a character building book for future releases which I will undoubtedly read in the future and with this series spanning sixteen books I think I better get started before the author decides to write anymore.
This is the first Simon Scarrow book I have read, but it certainly wont be the last.
Under the Eagle sees the arrival of a young Cato with the legion and his experiences as he comes to terms with life in the army with Macro in Germania. Simon Scarrow produces an excellent story with realistic characters as the battles commence and the blood flows.
Some poetic license is included as the two Roman soldiers jump geographically from region to region in the books and their capers are more like those of Roman Special Forces but they are excellent reads.
I took five of his books with me to Spain on holiday and by the time the two weeks were over, the books were read and throroughly enjoyed. Simon Scarrow for me is a better story teller than Bernard Cornwell because theres more action, more going on and his stories flow.
Extended accounts of fights and battles with an invincible hero who always overcomes impossible odds. Simply nonsense and entirely unconvincing!