4 of 5 stars
Series: Eagles of Rome 3
My version: Hardback
Historical Fiction Rome, Germania
Penguin Random House
AD15. The German chieftain Arminius has been defeated, one of the last Roman Eagles discovered, and thousands of German tribesmen slain. Yet these successes aren’t nearly enough for senior centurion Lucius Tullus. Not until Arminius is dead, his old legion’s eagle found and the enemy tribes completely vanquished will he rest.
But Arminius – devious, fearless – is burning for revenge of his own. Charismatic as ever, he raises another large tribal army, which will harry the Romans the length and breadth of the land.
Soon Tullus finds himself in a cauldron of bloodshed, treachery and danger.
His mission to retrieve his legion’s eagle will be his most perilous yet…
I can’t find much doubt that in his Eagles of Rome series and in the character Tullus, Ben Kane has produced his best work so far. Probably as it should be, a writer getting better all the time, and this being his latest series. If Eagles In The Storm isn’t quite up there with the first one, Eagles At War, then that’s no disgrace, and it might even be down to me thinking, “well it wasn’t as good as the first.”
There’s generally nothing wrong with it, bar a little of a stretched feeling – that this was a two book series made into a trilogy. That and a disappointing, after the general all-round wonderfulness of the first two, slip into the Hist Fic swamp of lesser writers. The Germanic barbarian warriors – and warriors who work for the Romans – all have bad breath. Here ‘fetid.’ Maybe it’s all non-Romans. Bad breath is something common to all warriors who oppose our Hist Fic hero characters. Have you noticed? Pushed up against in a shield-wall, the guy over the shield from us always has gods-awful bad breath. There are one too many raised eyebrows flying around. Like he maybe wrote this just after getting back from a pub lunch with Anthony Riches. But Ben Kane has time and time again proven himself better than this. Fait enough, ‘his’ eyebrows are most often one eyebrow raised, or ‘arched,’ but face it, when was the last time you raised just one eyebrow to signify you were doing anything other than a Roger Moore, or Benny Hill impression? And, it’s not like they’re any one character’s habit, they’re all at it. Not needed. Something else that struck me was, the prevalence throughout the ages, from BC to medieval times, of the insult ‘Whoreson(s).’ Hist Fic needs a new insult. Or two, preferably. Or I need to see some evidence that BC Romans used it, AD Romans, Anglo Saxons, Vikings and later Medieval Period peeps all used it. Then finally, there’s way too much “dipping” of chins. In salute, in acknowledgment, in every occasion. It sounds – again – more like a meeting of the Great Crested Grebe Society than a tough as nails Roman story. I didn’t notice an ‘almost imperceptible’ so that’s some sort of plus.
Other than that then, just great. This story and the previous book, could have been combined, but you’re not wasting your money getting all three. The finale, is perfect really, summing up the feelings of loss and regret and the ‘did we do the right thing? For the right reasons?’ That’s what I got. Even, though of course we’re rooting for the Romans, a feeling for Arminius, not so much in his stressful efforts to keep the tribes together, more a daydream about what it must have felt for him, knowing that while his wife and child were probably still alive, he would never see them again. I don’t have children, but it affected me quite deeply all the same.
Another thing it has done, is get me on to buying a couple of other books about the battle of the Teutoburg Forest. One non-fiction even. I’ve followed Ben Kane on various social media for a while now and his book recommendations have always been absolutely spot on, and as the books he writes are also spot on, its inspired me to find out more about the period and I hope you are inspired to read his books.
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