Simon Scarrow, writer of the bestselling military Eagle series has produced another successful follow-up with The Legion.
If you are a fan of historical fiction you won’t be disappointed with Scarrow’s latest addition. It is the 10th novel of the Eagle series and Scarrow has managed to avoid writing to a set formula for each novel. All books in these series have their own surprising twists and The Legion is no exception.
After Macro and Cato’s limited success against Ajax in The Gladiator and Ajax’s uprising on the Island of Crete, Macro and Cato are tasked to capture Ajax to present him before the Emperor Claudius, dead or alive.
However, things are not as straight forward for the two distinguished Romans. The trail has gone cold since Crete and they have too few ships from the Roman Navy to their availability, yet they have to cover the entire coast of the Nile Delta from Alexandria to Epichos, which is riddled with mangrove swamps and discrete channels in which to hide naval vessels. Their struggle is further compromised by the stirring of one of Rome’s most volatile opponents for control of Egypt: the Nubians.
“I really don’t need this kind of competition…It’s a great read”
– Bernard Cornwell
The Legion is far from a simple follow up on The Gladiator. Not only does it engross you in the pursuit of Ajax across desert lands, but it also describes the problems facing the Roman presence in Egypt. These problems are multiple in number and range from the anti-Roman sentiment from the Egyptians, to the presence of young hot heads in high ranking positions of the Roman legions and auxiliaries, who manage to scoff at the threat posed by the massing Nubian army and regard them as an enemy that will be easily defeated.
Macro and Cato live up to our expectation again as soldiers who can turn the tide in the worst of situations. However, unknown to them there are traitors working in their midst, casting shadows of doubt over who they can trust in Egypt and amongst the Roman army of the Twenty-Second Legion camped at Diospolis Magna.
Suspense is one of the skills of Scarrow that makes his novels stand out; he can keep you hooked for the whole story and encourages you to ask questions, all of which are answered as you progress through the novel. Next time you call in the bookshop I would certainly recommend having a good look at the Eagle series.