Book Review: When The Eagle Hunts by Simon Scarrow

The plot is pretty straightforward: A brief prologue details a ship lost at sea. Only four Romans survive. They wake up on a beach in Britannia only to be taken away by barbaric tribesmen just when they think they’re saved.

Cut to Macro and Cato, soldiers in the Roman army, busy trying to conquer Britannia. There’s lots of marching and fighting, and marching and fighting, and fighting and marching. That’s until they’re given a very special mission: find and save the people who were lost at sea. The emperor’s family.

It’s a good book. I’m archaeologist, educated in England, so anything with Roman usually piques my interest. But…

The first half of the book is just a long fight scene. There’s the prologue which I mentioned, a scene in a tavern where Cato and Macro drink for a little bit, and after that they’re constantly on a march or fighting, or recovering from either.

All the time I was reading this, I kept thinking “what’s the point?” There didn’t seem to be much in terms of character development, and at this point, the whole “we got to save the important people from the prologue” hadn’t even been mentioned. Not even once.

And, no offense to Scarrow, but Oit’s not his writing style and way with words that sells this book, it’s his story. So it’s weird that the story took so long to get going.

*Now, I didn’t know this at the time, but this is apparently the third book in as series, though I didn’t feel like I’d missed out on much*

After the 50% mark we get to the core of the story. They’re given their secret mission to save some important people and they run off after some druids. It’s fun, it’s exciting, and I enjoyed the story in general.

But at the same time, I have to ask myself: Why did someone decide to pick this up? What agent read the first 1-2 chapters of this, and decided to the carry on, and then apparently read half a book before hardly anything happened and still went with? This cover suggests Scarrow has written some great stuff before (I’d never heard of him before this), so I assume that has much to do with it. And I don’t mean to berate him as an author, like I said, I liked the book.

If you like historical fiction, and enjoy a good fight scene or twelve, I’ll highly recommend this.

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