Series: Eagles of Rome 2
My version: Hardback
Historical Fiction Romans
An army defeated
AD14: Five long years have passed since the annihilation of three legions in the wilds of Germania. Although the bones of 15,000 soldiers now moulder in the Teutoburg Forest, not all the Romans were slain in the bloody ambush.
A Centurion out for vengeance
Demoted, battle-scarred and hell-bent on revenge, Centurion Tullus and his legionaries begin their fightback. Ranged against them is the charismatic chieftain Arminius, who is gathering thousands of hostile tribesman, determined to crush the Romans for a second time.
An eagle recovered
The eagle belonging to Tullus’ old legion is still in enemy hands, but as the Romans’ reprisals take their army into German tribal lands, Tullus remains convinced that it is within reach. But Arminius and his warriors are perilously close. As battle begins, Tullus and his comrades know they must fight as never before – just to stay alive…
Well, reading much of that above synopsis you’d be forgiven for thinking that this sounds just like a re-run of Book One. It isn’t. Not really. Though there are a number of similarities. Luckily, Ben gives us the superb writing and character depth of the first book, as his similarities. The Romans, to my limited knowledge of the actual events, seem intent on making all the same similar mistakes as in book one. The reason? Well, maybe arrogance. Maybe surprise, that the proto-Germans wouldn’t roll over and play dead as so many other provinces had done before them.
From what I can gather from this book and Ben’s afterword (always well worth a read), this marked the high-water point of Roman expansion in the area that now is mostly Germany. The original defeat in the Teutoberg Forest, can, then, be seen as not only altering Roman history, but also European history. That’s why it is an important event, and that is why if you’re going to read about it, it’s important you read these Ben Kane books.
So, I’m thinking the Eagles of Rome series just might be Ben Kane’s best. I haven’t read the Spartacus series, but if Ben’s star is indeed rising and he’s getting better as he goes, Eagles will be the pinnacle (so far), the peak, the soaring…better than Spartacus anyway. Would have liked to see Tubero get more of what’s coming, though maybe (hopefully) Ben is saving that dish to be served in book three. Though as Tubero is one of the books’ many actual historical characters, that may not be possible. It’d be a pisser to have him die of old age, that’s all I’m saying.
Hunting has everything Eagles at War had, great build-up if tension, excellent plot construction and earthy pathos. Mostly, for me, around how the leaders had no real idea of what was motivating the ordinary rank and file legionary. Still, that hasn’t changed any in 2000 years. Hunting is far from a book two, stretching it out until the denouement of book three. Much more than a time-waster. It looks closely at the characters, their motivations and their own search for answers, clearly not being provided by their leaders.
If you only read one book about the Teutoberg Forest, read these three.