Tuesday, October 04, 2005

The Eagle's Conquest by Simon Scarrow (Book 2)

Author: Simon Scarrow
ISBN # 0747266301
434 pages

The action picks up where it left off in Under the Eagle – The Romans are continuing their conquest of Britain, battling against the natives in their attempt to secure this misty isle as another outpost, testament to the might of Rome. But the Britons are not the only enemy that Macro, battle-hardened Centurion of the fourth cohort, & his Optio, the young Cato, must face. Treachery & treason are rife & the sinister plot to either depose or dispose of the Emperor continues. Amidst the blood & battle, whom do you trust when even your allies may be your enemies?

The action comes thick & fast in this adventurous sequel. Scarrow thrusts the reader straight into the heart of the battle for Britain, having already established his leads in Under the Eagle. We follow Macro as he guides Cato (still barely a man at only 18 years old) & helps form him into a good soldier & a leader of men. After their discovery of Vitellius’ duplicity, they are watchful of his every move, but even they cannot predict the route he might take in order to gain his own place in history.

Scarrow is particularly gifted at submersing the reader completely in the heady atmosphere as the Romans prepare to advance across British soil, describing the hopes & fears of these men as they follow the orders of an Emperor who believes he is utterly infallible (in fact he is working on having his deification announced!). If his campaign is successful, he has more hope of holding onto his throne, but a loss of Britain will mean a loss of power, & possibly his life.

More action is packed into this section of the story, due to the fact that the characters have been introduced & their development is the key factor here. We become more sympathetic to the men as they band together to form friendships & alliances. A few new characters are also brought to the fore to play vital roles in the plot & they are used to every advantage in furthering the tail & deepening the intrigue. We also see Cato maturing & falling victim to all the usual petty jealousies of men his age, endearing him to us even more. Vespasian’s role, & that of his family, is also explored here to great effect.

Again, the historical research put into this story is excellent & the details are exact at every step. A lot of thought has gone into recreating the era & the people involved in any Roman campaign of that time.

All in all, The Eagle’s Conquest really quickened the pace & I plan on reading the third instalment as soon as possible just to find out whatever will happen next!

Rating: 8/10


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