- M.C. Scott
Demalion of Macedon never wanted to be a legionary. An unwilling recruit, he is appalled to be posted to the infamous XIIth legion, notorious for its ill luck. Promoted slowly through the ranks, he does his best to please his superiors, and in doing so, finds that he has come to love his legion, that he will willingly give up his life -- and his chance of death -- to protect its sacred heart: the Eagle.
Rome managed to conqueror and hold vast amounts of land in its hay day with its military might based in its legions. This story tells the tale of a reluctant solder – at least at first - and how he grows into his role of warrior through form friendships with his comrades. I have to confess I’m not usually a fan of war stories and this book is a war story albeit set in Roman times. Focusing on the eastern edge of the empire, where the Roman Empire meets the empire of the King of Kings, this tells the tale of one of Romans campaigns to hold Jerusalem and surrounded environs from local horse lords and rebel Hebrews.
This give a real inside view of what life is like in a legion – complete with floggings, intense close relationships between soldiers and war games. The description of the surroundings and the every life of the legion is well portrayed and multi-coloured. At times you could taste the sweat of the soldiers and smell the copper of blood. However, I never really felt an emotional connection to the main character. As a result I read the whole story as if from a birds-eye view. I watched all that was happening but never really felt part of it. I suspect that’s mostly my fault as I don’t usually read a lot of war stories. But I couldn’t stop watching nonetheless.
From the description I thought this was going to be an undercover mission to rescue the eagle of the Twelve, but it’s more a story of the Twelve and the hardships they faced over ten years. A detailed and involving story which will thrill and delight those who love historical stories and Roman period especially, but for some reason fell a little short for me personally.
Recommended for fans of Conn Iggulden and Douglas Jackson. 7 out of 10