Eagle in the Snow Paperback – Jul 18 2002
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About the Author
Wallace Breem was born in 1926 and educated at Westminster School. In 1944 he entered the Indian Army Officers' Training School and later joined a crack regiment of the North West Frontier Force. After the war he took a number of temporary jobs, eventually joining the library staff of the Honourable Society of the Inner Temple.
By 1965 he had become the 11th Chief Librarian and Keeper of Manuscripts. He was a founder member of the British and Irish Association of Law Librarians. He served the organisation in a number of senior capacities from 1969 until his death in 1990, when the Association and the Inner Temple jointly set up a Memorial Award in his honour.
Top Customer Reviews
Breem has an eye for detail in some matters, but not in others. For instance, he gives few details on how these people looked like. How are these barbarians dressed and what do they use for armor and weapons? Do these early 5th century Roman legionnaires look anything like the 1st century Legionnaires shown on the cover of the book? (The cover of this reprint was obviously designed to attract fans of the movie "Gladiator." It also helps that the main character is a Roman general named "Maximus." Did "Gladiator's" screenplay writers read this book?") I would have really appreciated more detail on arms and equipment, but Breem gives very little. Also, I was curious why Breem didn't even bother giving a name to one of the few female characters in the story- she's just "Rando's daughter" or "the girl."
Where Breem does give detail is on the personalities of various characters- ruthless, opportunistic barbarian kings; cowardly, venal civilian authorities; and proud, professional Roman soldiers. (Breem, a former British Army officer, does not hide his sympathies.Read more ›
Eagle in the Snow is among the vanishingly few works of historical fiction that can stand comparison with Renault's novels of Classical Greece or Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey/Maturin sea stories of the Napoleonic wars. I have no higher praise.
Breem's story is concerned with a pivotal event in Western history, the decline and destruction of the Roman world. Eagle in the Snow is the most polished and elegiac fictional account of Rome's fall yet published. It's a moving but unsentimental narrative of loyalty and duty set against fate, with its larger theme a disturbing look at how easily life as we know it falls apart.
The highest of the virtues, says the novel, is loyalty, unless it be love, but what is love without loyalty? The narrator, P. Maximus, commander of the Twentieth legion, loves Rome, or at least loves the idea of Rome. He will not abandon her in troubled times. With growing unease we follow Maximus as, without illusions but with courage, determination and skill, he sets about a seemingly hopeless attempt to stop the unstoppable.
Those with even a slight knowledge of our history will recognize that Maximus has chosen a mission (turn away the Dark Ages) in which real success is simply not possible.Read more ›
The book has flaws: the first fifth seems to have little purpose; with a short synopsis, a reader could drop into page 50 without any real loss. Characterization is also at times a bit shallow, particularly of the Romans (never have I had better insight into the Germanic tribes views though). Proofreading is poor in this reissued edition.
Still....as the Rhine began to freeze, the snow began to swirl, the wolves howl, and the barbarian horde prepared their onslaught, I too found myself shivering just as Maximus' legion undoubtedly once did.
Most recent customer reviews
This is an excellent book. It is historically accurate, moving, detailed, and fair. The barbarians were not always so, and the Romans were not always civilized. Read morePublished on June 27 2010 by R. Thatcher
Wallace Bream puts you directly into the sandals and mind of General Maximus! Few books make you anticipate the battle, fear the enemy, and feel the cold wind and snow sweeping... Read morePublished on April 13 2004 by Patrick Rivette
I recognize that this book was originally published about 30 years ago and that the author is now dead, but it still remains a good example of a trend in historical fiction which... Read morePublished on Nov. 21 2003 by Paul McGrath
I can not help but think that "Eagle in the Snow" was used as inspiration for the movie "Gladiator"... Read morePublished on Sept. 17 2003 by Alex Sheikman
If the first half of this book had been more compelling I'd have given it 5 stars without a second thought since the second half is so beautifully done, a dark and devastatingly... Read morePublished on Aug. 26 2003 by Stuart W. Mirsky
This book was.. for lack of a better word, Awesome. From the start, it keeps its readers captivated and with the sense that they have an eye in the past, viewing the end of the... Read morePublished on Aug. 6 2003 by Palmetto
After having finished this gripping, touching, and historically accurate page turner I HAD to write a review to offset the previous one. Read morePublished on July 20 2003