“ Author: Simon Scarrow / Genre: Fiction „
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As my recent spate of reading speeds up , i completed the second simon scarrow book in the same time length as the first. The second book picks up as the second legion arive in britain in order to defeat the locals and add the bit of land to the empire. The book follows Cato and Macro as they battle and protect the roman empire , all the while questioning the design of the empire and its running.
The books main battles take place around the thames and cammolodunum (modern day colchester) , as well as this there are rumours of a plot to kill claudius and drastic changes to the empire. On top of this cato must face problems with his love lavinia and more hostility from his superiors.
This book has a lot more action than the first as the battles are more intense and the fights are closer , the writing leads you to really feel about the characters and their are many times in the book where you are wondering and hoping for their safety.
The book also carrys the politics outside of the conquest better and is done in short bursts , so you dont forget about whats happening elsewhere. As its the same characters they are easier to remember and their seems to be only one or two random characters that pop up.
In order to get the most out of this book and to really understand it , you do need to read the first book as their are a lot of references to previous skirmishes and meetings.
The plot is very exciting and isn't just about the fighting , the backstory of love , conspiracy and politics gives it an edge and keeps you intrested.
The book is currently available in asda for £1 , and on amazon for £4 , either way its definatley worth the money , expect a review of the thrid book as im about to read it.
Rome's conquering of new territories is one of the richest and most interesting time periods in which to set a book. The juxtaposition of power and attitudes between Rome and the areas that surrounded it means there are loads of different areas to explore. One such outside area that always posed great interest for the Romans was the mysterious island off the coast of Gaul. That's right; Britain was a mysterious land across the water that contained many powerful tribes from the South Coast all the way to Scotland. When writing a book that follows Rome's great conquering of Britain there must be a crate load of action and battles to write about, so why is the second book in Simon Scarrow's 'Eagle' series not quite as good as it could have been?
Centurion Marco and his second in command Cato are back and the events of 'The Eagle's Conquest' follow on directly from the first book. They are now on the coast of Britain and they must fight against a local king who has gathered some of the most dangerous tribes together. It will take all of Marco and Cato's courage and all of Rome's ingenuous warfare tactics for them to win. Things are made more difficult when the army is told to wait for the current Emperor to arrive so that he can bask in the glory of victory. With such a powerful man on his way Cato finds himself fighting a war against the British whilst trying to uncover a plot that could lead to an assassination.
'Conquest' is by no means a bad novel, but in many ways it could have been so much better. A lot of the advertising on this book compares it to Bernard Cornwell's 'Sharpe' series and suggests that this is just as good. I probably agree with this, but I get the impression that the 'Sharpe' series had a larger impact on Scarrow than just being a historic novel. 'Sharpe' developed over 10 or so books and became a cash cow for the publishers. However, the initial set of 'Sharpe' books felt organic as if Cornwell had an idea where the series was heading, but a lot was made up as he went along. Scarrow's 'Eagle' series feels like he planned the entire life story of Marco and Cato before writing the first line. This means that each book depends entirely on the one before and the next. Therefore, 'Conquest' suffers from being too in-depth in places and has the characters developing for the sake of the bigger picture rather than the enjoyment of the now.
Despite this there is still a lot to admire in 'Conquest' and this is mostly due to the characters and the action. Once again Cato and Marco play fantastically off one another as a veteran and a rather softer new soldier. Perhaps Marco shines more here as he remains gruff throughout, I felt that Cato was once again a little soft and I hope that in future books Scarrow tries to toughen him up - I get the feeling that after events in this book this will happen soon.
As mentioned the battles are also very good. They appear in the book at regular intervals and are great breaks from the rather slower sections dealing with internal politics. The use of real historic fact and tactics means that Scarrow portrays an intelligent and exciting vision of the past. It is true that I may not have enjoyed this as much as 'Under the Eagle', the first book in the series, but this was because the two stories were remarkably similar. The 'Eagle' set of books is looking likely to be one giant story chopped into smaller novels rather than a collection of separate stories dealing with the same characters.
In the cannon of historic fiction that I have read, Scarrow still remains one of the most intriguing to me. His books are not quite as vivid as Cornwell's, nor as clever as Conn Iggulden, but what he does is create a middle ground where both the characters and the action play a major role. I will put the slight dip in form of this book down to the fact that pre-Roman Britain was not the most vibrant of places and that Scarrow is still building up the character of Cato so that he later becomes a great man. I really like the fact that I am on the second book of a long series were I will see someone grow from being a naïve youth into a potential leader of men. Well written with plenty of action, it is the duller longer political scenes that make the book average. However, if I have to read these so that great things can happen over the next few books, I really don't mind.
Author: Simon Scarrow
Price: amazon uk - £5.19
play.com - £5.99