|Media type||Print (Hardback & Paperback)|
|Preceded by||The Eagle in the Sand|
Centurion is a novel (ISBN 0755327764) written by Simon Scarrow, published by Headline Book Publishing in 2007. It is book 8 in the Eagle series, continuing Macro and Cato's adventures in the eastern provinces of the Roman Empire that began in The Eagle in the Sand.
During the reign of Emperor Claudius in the 1st century AD, the powers of the Roman Empire and the Parthian Empire are jockeying for influence over the Kingdom of Palmyra, which buffers the two empires and keeps an uneasy peace. Fearing a Parthian invasion of the Roman province of Syria, the Romans send an Auxiliary cohort to build a hill fort on the banks of the Euphrates. In response, the Parthians ambush the fort, slaughtering the garrison. Meanwhile, the Tenth legion, Third legion and the Sixth legion are drilling for war against the Parthians. Prefect Macro and Centurion Cato are drilling the Second Illyrian auxiliary cohort, attached to the Tenth legion for the war.
Cato and Macro were sent east by Claudius' personal secretary, Narcissus, to gather proof that the Roman governor of Syria, Longinus is planning to use the Syrian legions in a bid for the imperial throne, however, thus far they failed to prove his treachery. During their time in Antioch, Crispus, a Roman legionary murders an auxiliary during an argument, leading to Crispus being put to death, causing a rift between the auxiliaries and legionaries on the base. A Parthian convoy arrives, delivering the head of Centurion Castor, the soldier who led the auxiliaries to build the Roman hillfort, and warns of Parthian intervention, should Rome continue to meddle in Palmyra's affairs. Shortly thereafter, a Roman soldier guarding a Roman diplomat, Lucius Sempronius, arrives from Palmyra, announcing that Palmyra has descended into civil war.
Prince Artaxes, an ambitious heir to the Palmyran throne leads an army against his father, King Vabathus, blockading them in the Palmyran Citadel. Fearing the Parthians will arrive before the Romans can, Longinus sends the Second Illyrian, and a cohort of the Tenth legion to reinforce the Palmyran loyalists until the Roman army can arrive in force. Along the way, the Roman column under Prefect Macro are aided by the mysterious Prince Balthus, who covets the Palmyran throne, despite not being Vabathus' first born. The Roman column manages to fight their way through the city and into the citadel, where they realise the gravity of the situation. Vabathus' first born is Prince Artaxes, a Parthian sympathiser, whilst Balthus, despite being a skilled soldier squanders his time in trivial pursuits. Prince Amethus is easily persuaded, and is often used to further the ambitions of Krathos, an ambitious Palmyran noble.
Following a banquet to celebrate the successful defence of a rebel attack, Amethus is found murdered, with Balthus being the prime suspect. Meanwhile, Cato meets Sempronius' daughter, Julia, and the two fall in love. Following a rebel bombardment of the citadel, the food stores are destroyed, with only two days of supplies left. However, Longinus arrives with the Tenth legion, Third Legion and several auxiliary cohorts, lifting the siege. Longinus later reveals to Macro and Cato that they were never meant to reach Palmyra, and were meant to die in the desert, thus removing the two spies that had frustrated his plans. Against the advice of Cato, Longinus leads the army out into the desert, determined to destroy Artaxes' army and his Parthian allies. During a night attack, Longinus panics, orders a retreat and leaves the army at the mercy of the Parthian horsemen. On the suggestions of Cato, the army manages to defeat the rebels and the Parthians in a pitched battle, leading to the death of Prince Artaxes on the order of Balthus.
Back in Palmyra, it is revealed that Balthus had ordered his slave, Carpex, to murder Amethus, and he is arrested, to be put to death. Sempronius reveals that the Empire is to annex Palmyra, and absorb it into the province of Syria, as there are no heirs that Rome can work with. Macro and Cato are released from Narcissus' employment, ending their posting in the East, and Sempronius gives his consent for Cato to marry Julia.
- Centurion Quintus Lucinius Cato - Temporarily promoted to Acting Prefect of the Second Illyrian Cohort, Macro's adjutant
- Prefect Lucinius Cornelius Macro - Prefect of the Second Illyrian Cohort
- Legate Gallus Amatius - Commanding officer of the Tenth legion
- Centurion Horatius - Centurion of the Tenth legion
- Centurion Braccus - Centurion of the Tenth legion
- Centurion Septimus - Centurion of the Tenth legion
- Centurion Castor - Centurion of the Tenth legion, killed in action when the Parthians destroy his fort
- Centurion Porcius Cimber - Centurion of the Tenth legion
- Optio Marcus Metellus Crispus - Optio of the Tenth legion, he is put to death for murdering an auxiliary
- Centurion Parmenion - Centurion of the Second Illyrian, serves as Cato's adjutant
- Centurion Metellus - Centurion of the Second Illyrian
- Centurion Aquila - Centurion of the Second Illyrian, commander of the cohort's cavalry component
- Caius Menathus - Cavalryman of the Second Illyrian
- Gaius Cassius Longinus - Governor of Syria
- Lucius Sempronius - Roman ambassador, sent to Palmyra to conclude a treaty
- Julia Sempronia - Sempronius' daughter-turned-surgeon, who falls in love with Cato
- King Vabathus - Sovereign of Palmyra
- Prince Amethus - First son of Vabathus. He is assassinated by Carpex, under orders from Balthus
- Prince Balthus - Second son of Vabathus, ruthlessly coveting his father's throne. He is later put to death by Vabathus for treason
- Prince Artaxes - Third son of Vabathus, and his favourite son. He leads the rebels against his father, and is later killed on Balthus' orders in battle
- Thermon - The King's Chamberlain and younger brother. He was castrated under orders from the King to prevent any competition in Royal lineage
- Krathos - A Palmyran minister who uses the easily-persuaded Amethus to further his own agendas
- Demetrius - Commander of the Royal Guard
- Archaelaus - Tetrach of the Second Syntagma of the Royal Guard
- Carpex - A slave of Balthus who assassinates Amethus on his orders. Carpex is later murdered by Balthus once he exposes the prince
- Jesmiah - A Palmyran civilian, who cares for her baby brother, Ayshel
- Metaxes - Prince and heir to the throne of Parthia, sent to warn Longinus of Parthian intervention
After Eagle in the Sand, Headline Book Publishing reportedly decided not to use titles with the word Eagle anymore to attract new fans.
- Review in the Coventry Telegraph, April 21 2008. Reviewed by Ted Jury
- Review at Yorkshire Evening Post, 22 March 2008. Reviewed by RC
- Review by Jill Murphy at The Bookbag
- Review at FantasticFiction.co.uk