Well-paced and intricately plotted, When the Eagle Hunts is a brazen tale of military adventure, political intrigue, and a suicide mission.
Is the unflinching courage of the Roman army a match for the ruthless barbarity of the British tribes?
In the bitter winter of a.d. 44, the Roman troops in Britain are impatiently awaiting the arrival of spring so that the campaign to conquer the island can be renewed. But the native Britons are growing more cunning in their resistance, constantly snapping at the heels of the mighty Roman forces.
When the most brutal of the native tribesmen, the Druids of the Dark Moon, capture the shipwrecked wife and children of General Plautius, quick action is called for. Two volunteers from the crack Second Legion must venture deep into hostile territory in a desperate attempt to rescue the prisoners.
Scarrow's third historical (Under the Eagle; The Eagle's Conquest) continues to chart the first-century Roman invasion of ancient Britain, as it records skirmish by skirmish the exploits of Centurion Macro, who commands the Sixth Century of the Fourth Cohort of the Second Roman Legion, and his optio (junior officer), Cato. In the early winter of A.D. 44, a supply vessel carrying the wife and two children of General Plautius is shipwrecked off the British coast. The general's family with Prefect Valerius Maxentius, their official escort is taken prisoner by the bloodthirsty Druids of the Dark Moon. A short time later, Maxentius, accompanied by a Druid warrior, approaches the Roman encampment and delivers an ultimatum: unless the Romans release five Druid prisoners, the general's family will be burned alive. In case anyone doubted his seriousness, the Druid summarily beheads Maxentius. Following the Fourth Cohort's great losses fighting its way through a horde of Britons, Plautius dispatches Macro and Cato to rescue his family. Macro and Cato's difficult undertaking is further complicated when their two captive guides turn out to be Macro's former girlfriend and her fianc , a fearsome Druid magician. Despite Scarrow's attempt to invest his characters with personality, they come across as cardboard cutouts, and their anachronistic dialogue is off-putting. But his settings are well described and, however predictable, the plotting is strong, with much of the action reminiscent of Bernard Cornwell's. Albeit a bit slight and sporadic, Scarrow's novel demonstrates improvement in crafting, which bodes well for the expected sequel.