Top critical review
17 people found this helpful
on 13 April 2003
“Under the Eagle” is quite simply a rollicking read. And for a first novel is an adept piece of escapism. My reading of “Under the Eagle” undoubtedly suffered slightly from my reading of Steven Pressfield’s awesome “Gates of Fire” just prior. However I enjoyed the book’s quick pace, likeable characters, bouts of furious action, and Scarrow’s elaborately woven, underlying plot of political intrigue. I have read various reviewers suspicions of Scarrow’s characters using modern British slang, however I think this ultimately works well (although it is a little jarring to begin with). Just so long as Scarrow doesn’t let it get too fluid and we end up with a Cockney “Jack the Lad” Roman Centurion. But this doesn’t occur in this book and I am pleased to say that the use of modern dialogue makes the pages skip by quickly and eludes the sometimes dire “thees” and “thous” which have made some novels with ancient settings sound like a “Carry On Caesar”.
Scarrow has created the start of what promises to be a great series, centred around the adventures of Macro and Cato. I recommend this book to anyone after a cracking good, light weight read. It’s a fun story, packed with action. I dare say there’ll be many amateur classicists who’ll jump behind their high-browed snobbery and berate this enormously. Their loss. This isn’t meant to be “I Claudius” or a Mary Renault novel, it’s a little bit of daring-do set in Roman times. And a fine piece of escapism it is too!