The Eagle in the Sand
Simon Scarrow’s seventh novel has Roman legionnaires Macro and Cato sent to a fort in Judea to investigate disturbing rumours of a Parthian invasion. Corruption is rife among the higher ranking officers at Fort Bashir and Macro and Cato immediately find themselves up against the odds, beset by problems from within their own enclave as well as an imminent revolt by the native Judeans. The latter are led by Bannus, a member of the early Christian movement, which is divided between the peace-makers and those who would use force to fulfil their aims.
As one would expect from a Macro and Cato outing, there is plenty of action and the novel zings along at a cracking pace. The settings feel authentic and the life and times are well and colourfully portrayed. This is good, solid entertainment and a useful holiday read to pack in the suitcase. Some readers may find the very modern colloquialisms in the dialogue distracting, but others may feel that they give the novel a refreshing immediacy. I make no judgements on this—it’s a matter of personal taste.