- Paperback: 448 pages
- Publisher: Headline; paperback / softback edition (April 5 2001)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0747266298
- ISBN-13: 978-0747266297
- Product Dimensions: 11.2 x 17.8 x 2.9 cm
- Shipping Weight: 240 g
- Average Customer Review: 26 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #421,791 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Under the Eagle Paperback – Apr 5 2001
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Everyone has been raving about the film GLADIATOR, but Cato's story is its equal in bloody cut and thrust and has the bonus of conspiracy and intrigue to give it extra flavour * Northern Echo * [Simon Scarrow] blends together historical facts and characters to create a book that simply cannot be put down... Highly recommended * Historical Novels Review * Rollicking good fun * Mail on Sunday * Gripping... ferocious and compelling, it is a story of blood, romance and sacrifice * Daily Express * Scarrow's [novels] rank with the best * Independent * 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 * Praise for Simon Scarrow: 'I really don't need this kind of competition... It's a great read' -- Bernard Cornwell
About the Author
Simon Scarrow is a Sunday Times No. 1 bestselling author. His many successful books include his Eagles of the Empire novels featuring Roman soldiers Macro and Cato, most recently INVICTUS, BRITANNIA, BROTHERS IN BLOOD and PRAETORIAN, as well as HEARTS OF STONE, set in Greece during the Second World War, SWORD AND SCIMITAR, about the 1565 Siege of Malta, and a quartet about Wellington and Napoleon including the No. 1 Sunday Times bestseller THE FIELDS OF DEATH. He is the author with T. J. Andrews of the novels ARENA and INVADER. Find out more at www.simonscarrow.co.uk and on Facebook /officialsimonscarrow and Twitter @SimonScarrow
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"Under the Eagle" is an attempt to give the reader a "boots on the ground" view of the Roman army in the 1st Century AD by following the lives and adventures of two junior officers in the 2nd Legion- a veteran, battle-hardened centurion, Macro, and a fresh-faced, kid recruit, Cato, who because of connections is promoted to Macro's optio or second-in-command. It's a neat premise- what was it like to live and fight in a Roman Legion. However, Scarrow was only partly successful in creating this premise into a compelling work of historical fiction.
Scarrow obviously did some heavy historical research to capture the locations and political atmosphere of the era. However, one also gets the idea that Scarrow has watched too many war movies and unfortunately fell back on those memories to fill his novel with cliches and anachronistic dialogue. The recruit training parts are something out of "Full Metal Jacket" and the relationship between Macro/Cato is similar to the one between John Wayne and John Agar had in "The Sands of Iwo Jima"- a soft, rich kid grows up and becomes a leader under the tutelage of a battle-hardened vet. The most jarring fault of Scarrow is having his Roman soldiers talk just like modern-day Brits. It's extremely silly when you come across this dialogue and really helps ruin the historical atmosphere. (In my life I have taken five years of Latin and I never learned the Latin equivilents of "wanker," "bloody," or "bugger.")
Also, Scarrow seems to get bored with describing the day to day lives of 1st century legionnaires and thus moves the plot into one of political intrigue. It would have been nice to get a more detailed look at life in a Roman century- like what kind of men made up the Roman army. However, with a few weakly drawn exceptions, the men of the 6th Century, 4th Cohort are mostly nameless figures whose only purpose is to fill out the casuality rolls.
The faults of this novel are glaring, but I still finished it in a day. So there is definetely something here that is worth checking out if you like historical fiction. I thought Scarrow did a great job of introducing characters and plot strings that really make one want to continue reading. I was pulled into this novel early on. It is also well-plotted and the historical setting is very interesting. So if you're looking for a fun, quick read of historical fiction then by all means check out "Under the Eagle."
Here is a story of military initiations and rites-of-passage, heroism and the magnificent grandeur of the single most long-lasting empire in world history. The story is complete with graphic battle scenes, Julius Caesar's lost treasure, conspiracy theories (ancient Rome was never short on those), deceit, betrayal and edge-of-your-seat excitement.
The story takes place in & around the year A.D. 42 during the reign of Claudius. The narrative takes place right at the crux when the emperor is about to send his beloved forces abroad to invade England. In the tale we are also privileged to encounter the likes of 3 people who will "wear the purple" for Rome in the future: Vitellius, Vespasian and Titus. Scarrow does an excellent job of contrasting the despotic temperment of Vitellius with the noble & distinguished Vespasian. Titus is too young in the novel to be anything but a cute little tyke.
As a sidenote: It is no wonder that Vetellius was slain in A.D. 69 after only being in command a few months (the year of 4 emperors). No mystery that Vespasian was much more well-liked by his men, which caused his reign to last 10 years. He also died peacefully - something quite profound for an ruler of Rome.
Back to the story: if you're looking for a captivating military history novel, you would be hard-pressed to do better than this one. As a professor of classical history, Scarrow's expertise makes him a perfect candidate to write a book such as this. For glory, for nobility, for honor, FOR ROME!!!
For those who would like to learn more about the Roman legions, as well as their invasion of Britain, I would recommend LEGIONS OF ROME (ASIN: 6305534632). This documentary is also available @ Amazon.com.
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