The Eagle’s Conquest is an all-round tighter and more succinct novel than it’s predecessor. Scarrow still mixes in his gripping heart pounding battle scenes with the more sedate and slightly boring political intrigue but at least this time around the focus is most definitely on the grand battles of the legions.
Our two heroes, Cato and Macro, continue advancing with their Second Legion into the heartlands of Britannia. But there is a dangerous foe awaiting them. The warlord Caratacus has united many of the local tribes together under one banner for the first time and he will stop at nothing to drive the Roman’s from the shores.
This book takes the men the men of the legions into a number of large scale battles. From the banks of the river Tamis (Thames) to the capital city of Camulodunum (Colchester) the Romans are faced with overwhelming numbers again and again, the only thing they have in their advantage is training, discipline, and of course Macro and Cato.
Our heroes are in the thick of the fighting throughout this adventure. They are bogged down in marshland, they wade across the Tamis to fight and forge a beachhead on the shingle of the enemy bank and they kill many an enemy in the name of their Emperor.
We get to learn more about the aristocrats commanding the legions this time around, notably Legate Vespasian. We learn about his marriage, his lineage and his annoying children. It is this exploration of Vespasian and his family that opens up the political conspiracy and intrigue that furthers the shadowy aspects of this books plot. It is a more well rounded intrigue this time around and is more of a supporting player to the main action than it was in the first book where it was much more of an annoyance.
I am a huge fan of historical fiction, especially the kind set in the fascinating world of ancient Rome. There’s something about the inherent intrigue and ruthlessness of the Empire at its height that appeals to the reader within me. Which is why Simon Scarrows’ Under the Eagle and it’s subsequent series is a firm…
Once again Cato and Macro are both wildly different but equally enjoyable characters, especially Cato, he’s almost like a modern geek in the Roman army and it somehow works where really it probably shouldn’t.
I would like to see more development given to Macro though in the next book to flesh him out from being a simple veteran soldier with a grim but amusing outlook on the world of the legions into a complex man with more than one layer.
The worst part about this book though is the quite poor love story that seems forced into the pages as an after thought. It seems ultimately pointless and seems to have been added simply to tick off a checklist that either the author or publisher had for what needed to be contained within. It’s not a major issue on the whole it’s just a shame that Scarrow created a well balanced book between action and intrigue and threw that off with something so poorly executed.
You can grab a copy of this adventure for yourself on Amazon.