Prefect Quintus Licinius Cato and Centurion Lucius Cornelius Macro return to do battle and right wrongs in Simon Scarrow’s “The Legion” – his 10th title in the Romanic Eagle series. An epic tale of revenge, betrayal and death, “The Legion” takes you on a journey along the great Nile River as the Roman Empire faces a new foe and enemies from within.
Ajax, the leader of the slave rebellion, is seeking revenge for his father’s gruesome death at the hands of Cato and Macro. Strung up and horrifically nailed, he was left to die and Ajax has vowed retribution. He escapes captivity and together with a small band of loyal gladiators travels to Egypt killing all who stands in his way.
No one is immune to his brutality, young or old, man or woman. Along with his cohorts they travel throughout Egypt in a Roman battleship attacking villages, small naval bases and whoever dares challenge their authority. Disguised as Romans, the rebellion fight in the name of Cato and Macro, often leaving solitary witnesses with the main aim to create unrest and consternation between Egypt and Rome.
After years of fighting as a pirate and Gladiator, Ajax commands the respect and loyalty of his fellow rebels. He is a wily character; an unquestionable leader of men.
Cato and Macro have grown up together, lifelong friends; they have always been on equal footing – until now. Although inexperienced, Cato has been promoted to Prefect and is now superior to Macro. The book charts their relationship and gives a deeper understanding of their friendship and how the pair reacts to the new command structure as the pair tirelessly pursues Ajax.
Egypt’s turbulence is matched only by the inept leadership Cato and Macro have to endure.
The narrative is sharp and flows well. I found the battle scenes, often brutal; immersive and so realistic I found myself turning the pages with an ever increasing pace eager to find out who would prevail – and to see more gore!
It’s not all action mind you; with Ajax evading capture on a regular basis, a fair amount of the book charts the trials and tribulations of both parties as the inevitability of confrontation looms. Scarrow is at his descriptive best throughout, his colourful prose and obvious passion for the period clear for all to see.
We revisit the Sphinx, the fabled pyramids and religious temples as a game of cat and mouse ensues. Add a little skulduggery, guile and a certain spy in the Roman camp and you have all the ingredients for an exciting tit for tat adventure until one party comes out on top.
“The Legion” is an imaginative book. A fluent style and enjoyable dialogue, the consuming narrative works effortlessly leaving you wanting more. Fans of the genre will love the book and those new to the historical military genre should seriously consider diving in and testing the water – you won’t be sorry. Recommended.
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