The Eagles at War: Eagles of Rome, Book 1

Written by Ben Kane
Review by Linda Sever

Based on real historical events, Eagles at War tells the story of Lucius Tullus, Governor Varus and a legion of Roman soldiers, situated on the banks of the Rhine in Germania of the year 9 AD, as they prepare to do battle against the German tribes, waiting on the opposite side of the river, angry and resentful at the imposition of taxes. Added into the mix is the local chieftain, Armenius, who, although trusted by Rome, has been plotting to rid his land of the Romans and plans an ambush of the Romans before the start of the battle.

All in all, this is a massive epic, filled with jealousies, suspicions, plots, spies in the camp and military manoeuvres. Meticulously researched, it tells the story of the real historical characters and as they build up to the battle against the local tribes east of the Rhine. The book is a study in relationships between different groups of men, waiting for fighting to commence, with tensions rising, rather than an action-packed novel containing lots of blood and gore. That isn’t to say there is no action. The fight scenes are detailed and realistic, and you are often left wondering about the futility of war in whatever time period. Kane does not take sides. He simply details the story in fluid, well-written prose, interspersed with convincing dialogue, sometimes vulgar and scatological, to convey the voice and emotions of ordinary men about to fight and possibly die for their cause.

This is the first of the Eagles trilogy by Kane, who has also written historical fiction about Spartacus and Hannibal. Fans of novels about military planning and precision will find this novel an absorbing and gripping read.