The first novel in Simon Scarrow's bestselling Roman series.
It is 42 AD, and Quintus Licinius Cato has just arrived in Germany as a new recruit to the Second Legion, the toughest in the Roman army. If adjusting to the rigours of military life isn't difficult enough for the bookish young man, he also has to contend with the disgust of his colleagues when, because of his imperial connections, he is appointed a rank above them.
As second-in-command to Macro, the fearless, battle-scarred centurion who leads them, Cato will have more to prove than most in the adventures that lie ahead. Then the men discover that the army's next campaign will take them to a land of unparalleled barbarity - Britain.
After the long march west, Cato and Macro undertake a special mission that will thrust them headlong into a conspiracy that threatens to topple the Emperor himself...
©2001 Simon Scarrow (P)2013 Headline Digital
"I don't need this sort of competition." (Bernard Cornwell)
Rattling good story
Casual, chatty, undramatic
This the first in the 'Eagles' series, and as you'd expect the story and language isn't as polished as after Mr Scarrow gets a few under his belt and finds his stride. However, it is an entertaining story that rattles along nicely. Not quite 'Sharpe in sandals', but nearly.Unfortunately, the narrator has a chatty, casual style that doesn't vary in even the most dramatic moments, which takes the edge off somewhat. It is very easy on the ear, but just doesn't suit the words he is saying. However, I did get used to this after a few hours and move past it, except his pronounciation of 'Cato' as 'Car-to', and even, I'm certain, 'Carter' a few times. This goes against how I (and others I know) have always pronounced it, and how it is pronounced in the later books by other narrators, and never ceased to grate a bit.
I was really excited to see that Scarrow's early Macro & Cato books were finally being released as an audio version. The more recent books have had a couple of different but excellent narrators who capture the voices of the leads excellently. It's always difficult when a series has a new reader but David Thorpe handles the gruff voice of Macro and the younger Cato well. My only gripe, which is small but for me really off putting is his pronunciation of Cato. I have always read it, as previous narrators have as Kay to. Thorpe calls him Car to. For someone new to the series this is irrelevant. But after over a dozen books I just can't think of him this way. I wonder how Scarrow pronounces his name?
This aside it's a great first story with humour and fast paced gritty action that follows our two heroes across Britain in search of Caesar's lost treasure. Great fun and worth a listen.
I've listened to a lot of audiobooks set in the Roman era including Lindsey Davies (Marcus Dideus Falco) and the SPQR series. If you enjoyed those, you'll probably like these. The author does a good job of inserting his characters and their story into known historical settings.
The main characters are likeable and I quickly became interested in their situation. The 'banter' between the soldiers is amusing, particularly Macro and his bad language. The drill sergeant character Bestio is funny as well.
David Thorpe is a good narrator. He has a range of accents to bring the characters to life, and on the whole he does this very well - often with comic effect. His narration doesn't irritate or intrude, he is easy to listen to.
This was a very good audiobook if you enjoy the Roman setting and don't mind the odd expletive. The story was well paced and the characters were likeable. I enjoyed it so much, I ordered the next two in the series and immediately listened to them.
A man with a child in his ears
To me this is an excellent series of books. Simon Scarrow produces two well-developed "chalk and cheese" main characters that somehow develop an excellent chemistry as brothers in arms. Plenty of action mixed with plenty of character development is what I like in my books and here we get both aplenty. The narration is lively and positive so moves the story forwards well.
The only thing that irritates me (at the time of writing) is that quite a few of the books are currently not available on audible UK at least and this has been the case for over a year now. I have no idea where the problem is but this point is worth knowing if, like me, your literature is almost entirely consumed these days via Audible.
I'm stuck waiting for book four. This is such a good series I am determined to do them justice by listening in order.
This was a very good story narrated well. Scarrow developed strong characters and I am looking forward to listening to the next installment. Real praise should also be given to David Thorpe whose voices made the story more memorable.
I would listen to the book again, but only now I'm warming to the voice artiste reading it. He has a very peculiar 'Happy' beat to his voice which I think is inappropriate to the material but the same man reads the next two books and his voice characterization is excellent. Over the three books he keeps the same voices and he's obviously prepared well because he does great emotions when required as well.
Any other Simon Scarrow book. Listening to them one after the other it's very interesting to see him re-use themes and actions of the characters.
Happy light clear
It made me cringe a bit, but it's a bit of a guilty pleasure.
Internet Application developer who also enjoys good quality SciFi/Fantasy, board games and future Taekwondo black belt.
While most of my reading material is either SciFi or Fantasy, I do enjoy some historical fiction as well. I have had this as a paperback for sometime but never started it. I recently got the Audiobook and breezed through it in 1 day.
There is a fair amount of information dumping at the start of the book - explaining how the legions work, about regulations and how camps work etc. It also seemed that some modern views on Army life may have crept in as well - but i am no historian and this is just my personal view. That being said, it took nothing away from this book.
I had a connection with most of the characters, with the exception of the Legate. Don't know why that would have been the case, and hopefully it will change in the future books.
The audiobook was well presented and David Thorpe (Narrator) did a great job. I have the next 2 books which came with the Audiobook bundle, and hopefully they will be just as enjoyable.
Kildonan by the sea
This is entertaining and fast moving, full intrigue and action with a flavor of the Roman Empire to add a distinctive flavour. The characters are well drawn and the plot is also well developed if a bit formulaic.
If you are looking for some fun reading with plenty of action this is a good place to start, the period adds complications to what is a grunts indoctrination into the ways of war and the politics of the period feel closer to the battlefield than today's distant manipulations.
The reading is good but the screaming is not and there is a lot of screaming orders and commanding and that sounds a bit hysterical at times also the english accents to denote class and rank are for me out of place, on the other hand you can recognize the characters and the pace helps the story to move well.
An excellent story and impressive writing had me fully immersed in the story and gripped in the tense action and intrigue moments within the book. furthermore I have now purchased more books in the series as this book and the 5 star standard continues through the series, A MUST READ/LISTEN!
Further notes the narration is of an equally impressive standard
"Enjoyable Roman Military Mystery"
Simon Scarrow is a new author for me. I enjoyed the first volume of his Macro and Cato series even though I felt something was missing but I can't actually put a finger on what. Maybe it was the lack of a conclusion, the ending being a setup for the next book, which is not available on Audible. It doesn't make sense to go on to Book 3 when there would be huge gaps in the major storyline.
That said, Macro the Centurion and Cato the Optimo are an appealing duo. I learned a great deal about the structure of the Roman military and Roman politics. The battle scenes are well orchestrated and are violent without being ghoulish. There are a few too many F-bombs considering the word didn't exist at the time but they don't feel inappropriate for the military setting.
David Thorpe is the wonder narrator. He captures each character perfectly.
I won't continue with this series until Book 2 is available.
"Story Develops Nicely"
Though it took a few chapters to draw me in, I ended up enjoying this story. The setting in a Roman legion is interesting, but this would work equally well in almost any army of any period. The reader did a great job with varying his voices so that you can recognize each character immediately. Very entertaining.
"Enthralling Historical Drama"
This historical fiction explores life as a soldier in the Second Legion of the Roman Army stationed in German in 42 A.C.E. It is a familiar theme of an experienced centurion (sergeant) Macro taking a teenaged recruit named Quintus Licinius Cato, an educated freedman, who was appointed by Emperor Claudius to a rank he has no knowledge or experience to hold. Cato must grow up quickly to survive. While the story unfolds Scarrow provides a great deal of information about the Roman Army and its campaigns. This first novel in the series is first set in Germany then the Second Legion is part of the campaign of the conquest of Britain. Scarrow provides the reader with a view of the everyday life of an average Roman soldier.
Scarrow has a good understanding of the genre and of ancient Rome. The characters are interesting and the plot twist and turns with lots of suspense. Scarrow does a decent job with the battle scenes. The book is a fun adventure with some mystery and political intrigue tossed in. David Thorpe does a good job narrating the book.
"I've got a new series"
If you enjoy Bernard Cornwell or Patrick O'Brian you'll enjoy Simon Scarrow. Good story that pulls you along with the main characters. Some of the narrators choice of voices aren't what i'd have chosen, but fit the British background of the narrator (and auther).
"Roman Army? Where?"
It was very generic. There are long stretches where you'd be hard pressed to remember its about the Roman Army.
Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry. He never disappoints.
I have a well documented audio crush on Ray Porter, so I'd go with him.
None of them. It was an adequate story. Poorly narrated--- his Roman soldiers were overdone caracitures of English thugs. So bad they became almost comical.
I was looking for something more authentic and more about the army, and the esprit de corps. This was a tedious "mystery" with such poorly fleshed out characters there wasn't anyone to like.
"Enjoyable historical fiction."
I always enjoy having historical charters recast into plausible yet obviously fictitious stories. Add on to that a couple of likable main characters as the centre piece for this book, and you have the start of an enjoyable franchise.
There was nothing earth-shattering in this story, but it does give good solid entertainment value for your money. The performance seemed well suited for the story and characters, and certainly added to the overall enjoyment of the experience.
To sum up, if you like historical fiction, and in particular the Roman period, then give this story a try. You shouldn't be disappointed!
Yes i Would recommend this book to a friend it was a good read and well worth it.
The most memorable moment from the book was the battle at the German village at the beginning of the book. It sets the stage for the type of people the characters are.
Both Cato and Macro were were my favorite characters.
This is a good book that was well worth listening to. The only problem I had with it was that there are scenes and twists in the story that don't have anything else to do with anything. Like the part where Cato gets caught in the tent with the thief, why did he need to be there when he couldn't identify the thief in the dark? It was pointless and 15 minutes worth of listening that didn't add any significance to the book. I did like the story line though and would like to see the second book "Conquest" get put on Audible in English rather than Latin (I think its in Latin at least).
"Not worth it"
Love Historcial Fiction
At first I thought this was a thoroughly enjoyable series. But then I tried to get book two. You have to join Audible UK in order to get a number of the books. In a couple of words. Bravo Sierra. Guess I will never finish the series .
"It's a bit like the life of Brian Monty Python movie"
Injecting British colloquialisms into a Roman story is a good way to relate it to modern times I suppose. I'm sure the Romans talked as rough as any military folks could.
Poor quality of the writing
All of them.
This book is unreadable. I love historical fiction, especially Roman but this is so badly written it's painful. No sentence is complete without ten adverbs. Everyone speaks ridiculous cockney vernacular, one character even assures another he is not "an ass bandit".
I can't understand how this has positive reviews.
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