The Blood of Rome (Eagles of the Empire 17)

Written by Simon Scarrow
Review by Gordon O'Sullivan

It’s scarcely believable that The Blood of Rome is the seventeenth adventure of Cato and Macro, but such is the skill with which Simon Scarrow writes, that their partnership feels as fresh as ever. This time our favourite Roman legionaries are caught up in the never-ending struggle between Rome and its eastern rival, Parthia. The chosen battleground is Armenia, and under orders from their new commander, General Corbulo, Cato and Macro must set the ousted King Rhadamistus, a Roman ally, back on his throne. The catch: they have just a cohort of Praetorian Guards and some unfit garrison troops to do it with. Unfortunately, their erstwhile ally is also as much of a challenge as the Parthian and Armenian enemies they will face.

With an Eagles of the Empire novel, you can look forward to expertly shaped battles, vicious political intrigues, and the always compelling relationship between blood brothers Cato and Macro and The Blood of Rome doesn’t disappoint on those terms. Scarrow never lets the narrative falter with a pacy plot but manages to balance that furious action with slower-paced scenes that shine a more personal light on the two main characters. That captivating characterisation is what both drives the novel and keeps fans of this series coming back for more. Cato is struggling with mental and physical fatigue, the accumulation of years of relentless slaughter on the battleground and deep sorrows on the home front. Macro is bested for once as he finally meets his match on the romantic front. As in the previous sixteen books, this Roman pair’s ability to come through the most dangerous of battlefield situations is tested to the very limit during their latest adventure. In The Blood of Rome, this reader was with them every step of their struggle to survive against overwhelming odds.