So as the set grows I return once more with a review of the 5th book in the eagles series , written by Simon Scarrow.
The battle for britain , although longer than expected , is coming to an end. Caratacus is left with only a small amount of troops to fight alongside him and the prospect of being under Roman rule is growing heavily. However , unfortunatley for the stories protagonists Cato and Macro , the barbarians have learnt a little from the roman invaders and what is supposed to be a final push across the tamesis goes horribly wrong. Blame is passed down the ranks and the most powerful army in the world is about to hand out the worst punishment known in the legions. Decimation.
Considering this book sets out to show the end to the conquest in Britain , there is a lot less fighting than the previous installments. The story is more set around survival , leadership and madness. Now this is not a bad thing , the story is still as exciting as ever and runs along at a steady pace, it just feels strange as it deviates from the battles. Then again it is a show of ability from the writer that they can make such an intresting story that can adapt.
The book does a good job of tying up this section of the series , showing the state of relations in key areas and the relationships between characters. The books most important character is probably Caratacus , all the rumours and speculation are finally killed off as he shows his true colours and that he isn't as bad as the romans make out , in fact , in classic narrative , there isn't much difference between him and rome.
The book also see's the leaving of a important character as well as the prospect of a change of scenery for Macro and Cato.
The book is 466 pages and is £3.99 on amazon.
Thanks for reading and I hope to be reviewing the next book , The eagles prophecy , in the near future :)
The slow build up of hype is a double edged sword that can make or break any product. From supermarkets, books, films, sports and even everyday life we are force fed hype telling us to buy this brand, go to this school, try this film. The problem is that if you are expecting something big, the product must deliver and so often they do not. How many bad films have you seen during the Blockbuster summer months? These films spend millions on advertising and find themselves unable to achieve the same level of excitement as the 30 second trailer. What happens if you are writing a series of novels and over time you are building up towards one giant confrontation? Are you able to give the reader what they will surely demand; or perhaps you can feed them a curveball?
Centurions Marco and Cato have been part of the Roman invasion of Britain since the beginning and in that time they have slowly turned the locals into Roman ancillaries. However, Caratacus is one British leader who has refused to bow down and has become a thorn in the side of Rome with his Guerrilla tactics. 'The Eagle's Prey' begins with the creation of a trap. This trap will lure Caratacus into the arms of the Roman legions and destroy him. However, not everything goes to plan and Marco and Cato's Centuries find themselves attacked by overwhelming numbers. With defeat a certainty they have to retreat, but the reputation of Rome is at stake and retreat is not an option and the Legion are forced to punish there own. Can Marco and Cato bring themselves to kill 1 out of every 10 of their men, or can they rebuild their reputations first?
This is the fifth book in the 'Eagle' series that is getting better and better. Each book is an individual story, but there is an overarching theme of the Romans subduing the native Brits. Caratacus is a name that has cropped up in every book and someone that Marco and Cato have fought in minor skirmishes, it is not until 'Prey' that a major battle finally commences. Or does it? I was looking forward to an epic battle that would finally see the end to British resistance, but it was not forthcoming. Throughout the book Marco and Cato are on the fringes and fight in important, but limited, battles. Despite the lack of a large scale fight I was not as disappointed as you would think.
Historic fiction is not always the easiest thing to write as you must take fiction elements and place them in a non-fiction environment. I find that the best authors either choose a known leader and have them leading a battle (Conn Iggulden's Caesar books), or a fictional character who sees the battle from their own point of view (Bernard Cornwell's Sharpe series). Simon Scarrow is definitely from the Cornwell camp as he as developed fictional characters who must be on the sidelines to remain believable. You cannot have a made up person taking the credit for something that actually happened. Therefore, although we do not get to see the overall battle with Caratacus, we do get to read about some of the highlights in Cato and Marco's campaign.
Without a major battle to contend with the book is less about fighting and more about Cato's role in the army. Once his legion is punished he begins to realise that the army way of life is not fair and that their in no noble cause for him to fight. The book becomes less about a battle and more about a personal adventure that contains some great action set pieces and some real emotion. Once again it is Cato who is the most rounded character in the series and we get more hints about his destiny. Marco is seemingly sidelined in recent novels, but his fractured relationship with Boudicca is bound to come back soon!
Simon Scarrow has essentially taken the best elements of his previous books and polished them to perfection. The relationship between Marco and Cato is well established so that Scarrow is able to manipulate it to create some funny or poignant moments. The various battles are once again well researched and brilliantly provocative. In Cato, Scarrow has a character that you like and you want to succeed; this gives the book a drive and emotional core. I for one was not disappointed by the end that there was no huge battle scene as I was instead given a cracking adventure novel that was both thrilling and felt authentic. Simon Scarrow is continuously improving the 'Eagle' series of books; if the trend is ongoing he may become my favourite author of historic fiction of all time.
Author: Simon Scarrow
Price: amazon uk - £5.99
play.com - £5.99