Vespasian IV: Rome’s Fallen Eagle

Written by Robert Fabbri
Review by Chris James

The new addition to Fabbri’s saga of Vespasian, Rome’s Fallen Eagle, begins in AD 41 with the assassination of Caligula and the immediate political implications and upheaval that this causes. Embroiled in imperial politics, Vespasian is tasked with the mission of recovering the Eagle of the Seventeenth Legion, lost in one of Rome’s greatest military disasters: the Battle of the Teutoburg Wald, AD 9. This is seen as necessary to secure the new Emperor Claudius’s grip on power, vulnerable as it is without the support of the legions.

In Vespasian IV, Fabbri continues his expert blend of politics and military action. However, whilst the action is graphic and intense, it is now becoming rather predictable. Other than this, the only negative points are that old jokes are recycled and the novel is less addictive than previous instalments. Nonetheless, it is a thoroughly enjoyable read, and if the fights on the battlefield are predictable, then those on the political landscape are anything but, with the wily Narcissus, the Emperor’s freedman, a prominent figure.

I would recommend this book to those who have enjoyed any or all of the previous novels in the series and to those with an interest in this area of history. Moreover, with the aforementioned balance of intrigue and action, this book should find appeal to the general reader as well, although I would advise reading Vespasian I: Tribune of Rome first. Bring on Vespasian V: Masters of Rome!