From Publishers Weekly
British writer Scarrow (Under the Eagle) offers a second action novel set in ancient Rome, focusing on a key battle in Britain during the Roman invasion led by Claudius in 43 A.D., then turning to an attempt to assassinate Claudius. The first half of the book follows the adventures of Centurion Macro and his eager young subordinate, Optio Cato (both of whom played prominent roles in the first book), as the Romans try to outmaneuver the forces of Caratacus, king of the Celtic tribes of Britain, in a series of skirmishes along the Thames. The battle scenes are lifeless and generic despite the nonstop action, mostly because Scarrow offers little in the way of character development (most of the combatants are military stereotypes) or period detail (the contemporary colloquialisms offer some unintentional levity: "Just make sure you get some proper bloody swimming lessons," Macro chides Cato). The assassination conspiracy that takes up the second half of the book is far more interesting. Macro and Cato must get to the bottom of a plot involving fellow soldier Vitellius, a Carthaginian surgeon and Flavia Lavinia, a former romantic interest of Cato's. Scarrow deftly negotiates this tricky, labyrinthian story line, but his writing style remains pedestrian. Cato and Marco are one-dimensional, albeit fitfully amusing, protagonists. Scarrow will need to elaborate their personalities considerably if they're to carry the sequel that Scarrow foreshadows in this book's rather predictable conclusion.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Fresh from their triumphs in Under the Eagle
(2001), battle-scarred Centurion Lucius Cornelius Macro and his seemingly unlikely protege, former slave Quintus Licinius Cato, embark upon another mission brimming with intrigue, adventure, and betrayal. Part of the Roman expeditionary force assigned by Emperor Claudius to conquer Britain, Macro and Cato must overcome more than their British enemies in order to prevail. Vastly outnumbered by the Britons, the four legions of Roman troops invading the British Isles rely more on experience, cunning, and superior military strategy than strength in numbers. When the emperor arrives on Britain's shores to bask in the victory of his army, Macro and Cato must expose a treasonous plot and foil an assassination attempt on his life. Scarrow manages to summon up in this exhilarating tale all the glory and the gore that characterized life in the Roman legions. Outstanding military history from a relatively new master of the genre. Margaret FlanaganCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved