Review: The Silver Eagle – Ben Kane

The Silver Eagle Ben KaneSeries: The Forgotten Legion 2

My version: Paperback
Genre: Historical Fiction Romans
Publisher: Arrow Books
First published: 2009

From the cover:
The Forgotten Legion
They fought against almighty odds at the very edge of the known world – and lost.
Now Brennus the Gaul, Tarquinius the Etruscan soothsayer and Romulus, bastard son of a Roman nobleman, are prisoners of Parthia. They dream of escape, but in the brutal fighting that lies ahead, only two will survive.
Meanwhile, Fabiola, Romulus’ twin sister, is caught up in the vicious eddies of Roman politics. Hunted by slave catchers, she flees, hoping to find her lover, Brutus, bound for Alexandria with Caesar.

This is an excellent read. At least on a par with Harry Sidebottom‘s ‘Warrior of Rome’ books.

The Forgotten Legion are one of the Roman Legions defeated after the battle of Carrhae. They are then captured and taken east by the victors, the Parthians. In the east, they are kept together and kept fighting, but under their control against their eastern enemies, ending with a huge battle in the far east against an Indian army, in the footsteps of Alexander the Great.

Throughout this story and the previous book (presumably number three as well), we follow a brother and sister, made slaves, sold, captured, forced to fight, forced to…well, plenty of other things. They are separated, the sister is kept in Rome, the brother, Romulus, is forced into The Forgotten Legion. The story follows them and the people who become their close friends, companions, spiritual advisors, enemies, rivals, tormentors and worse. The novel is centred around the two and their adventures both trying to stay alive at a crucial period in Roman history (the rise of Julius Caesar, the end of the Republic, the time of Rome as an empire, driven by Emperors and Caesars, modelled in various degrees of success, on Julius Caesar) and their search for each other and for revenge.

If you know, or can remember anything of this period of Roman history from your school-days, then there seem to be some clues as to what might well happen in the third (and possibly final) volume of The Forgotten Legion series. But, I could be mistaken of course.

You don’t necessarily need to have read the previous book, The Forgotten Legion, but it would only increase your enjoyment of The Silver Eagle. There’s a good pace kept up throughout the book, which is obviously written from a thorough understanding of and a deep interest in, the period it is set.

If there is one thing though, that I was a little doubtful about. He has a habit of ending each chapter on a cliff-hanger; ‘will they, won’t they get out of this one?!’ Whilst never having read any Charles Dickens (seen enough tv series and films to cover that particular base), I understand he used to do it because his stories were published in weekly, or monthly, periodicals and each chapter or section finished on a cliff-hanger in order to get the reader sufficiently worked-up to purchase the next edition. Here, Ben Kane is merely shifting from one strand of the story to another and back. Whilst it is exciting to read of battles against overwhelming odds blended into the story, it does get a little wearing and in danger of becoming a forced cliche by doing it at the end of each chapter. It eases up in the later sections and the story is the better for it.

Other than that minor irritation, I can thoroughly recommend The Silver Eagle and look forward to the next excuse to order a whole load of new books from Amazon.


You can buy The Silver Eagle from The Book Depository

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