The eighteenth instalment of the “Eagles of the Empire” series takes our leading protagonists to the Eastern edge of the Roman Empire, Parthia, for their latest adventure. Aficionados, of which I am one, will find it fits like a well- worn pair of slippers. Visceral Macro has plenty of opportunity to use his brawn, cerebral Cato finds his rational power tested to the limit.
Scarrow still finds new ingredients after all of these years, a training exercise attack, a river pirate raid, and Roman Army rebellion.
All the well fashioned elements are here. Atmospherically created battle scenes. A credible take on the soldier’s lot, and a narrative that skips along.
This story features a mysterious agent of Rome, and spy, Apollonius. He is an exceptionally promising character. In past books, Scarrow has drafted some memorable supporting cast, then abandoned them. Hopefully, Apollonius will be given more time to grow in future books. Cato still has plenty left in him as a Tribune and politician, Macro’s military career as a Centurion is inevitably time- bounded. At some point the dynamic of the brainy and brawny soldiers finishes.
Macro is now married to Petronella, if their ardour is anything to go by, children will be on the way soon. Cato has a young son Lucius. But something will need to happen before their offspring come of military age to change the established narrative.
The book itself is classic Scarrow, a formula which we know and love, which is not to say that it is beyond reproach. The ending is rushed. I physically checked the number of pages left when I realised that the book was drawing to a close and was alarmed at how much needed to be addressed.
Nevertheless, a fine read, as always, leaving us wanting more.