Eagles of the Empire
UK First edition cover of Under the Eagle, the first book in the series
|Publisher||Headline (UK) & Thomas Dunne Books (USA)|
|Media type||Print (hardcover and paperback), audiobook, e-book|
|No. of books||15|
The Eagles of the Empire series is a historical military fiction series written by Simon Scarrow. The books follow two officers in the Imperial Roman army, Quintus Licinius Cato and Lucius Cornelius Macro, during the 1st century AD, in the reign of Emperor Claudius.
The following four books are set in Britain, between the years AD 42 and 44 - detailing the Roman subjugation of the province alongside court intrigue that often leaves the protagonists in receipt of contempt from the Roman political class.
The seventh and eighth books, The Eagle in the Sand and Centurion, take place in the Roman Empire's eastern provinces, Judea and Palmyra, respectively. While returning to Rome from Palmyra, the protagonists are shipwrecked on the island of Crete in The Gladiator, which leads to them being sent to Egypt in the tenth novel, The Legion. The eleventh novel, Praetorian is set in Rome, while the subsequent three books (The Blood Crows, Brothers in Blood and Britannia, all feature Macro and Cato's return to Britain.
Since the 8th book 'Centurion' the author has refrained from using 'Eagle' in the books title - the reason for this is unknown, however some speculate that this has been done in effort to make the books accessible to a wider audience.
The series, in its entirety, documents Macro and Cato's attempts to live a soldier's simple life, however, their effectiveness as soldiers and Cato's former connections to the Imperial Court make this difficult. Through association with Cato, Macro also finds himself the object of the upper classes' intrigue and struggles for supremacy. The series also features Vespasian and Vitellius as supporting characters, during the formative years of their careers, and foreshadowing their future rivalry for the Imperial throne.
There are 15 books in the series as well as the short story 'Blood Debt':
- Under the Eagle (2000)
- The Eagle's Conquest (2001)
- When the Eagle Hunts (2002)
- The Eagle and the Wolves (2003)
- The Eagle's Prey (2004)
- The Eagle's Prophecy (2005)
- The Eagle in the Sand (2006)
- Centurion (2008)
- The Gladiator (2009)
- The Legion (2010)
- Blood Debt (2009, short story)
- Praetorian (2011)
- The Blood Crows (2013)
- Brothers in Blood (2014)
- Britannia (2015)
- Invictus (2016)
Lucius Cornelius Macro
Macro, a veteran with 16 years service (as of the first novel's opening) has recently been appointed to the Centurionate. He is the epitome of a good soldier: dependable in a fight and does not question any orders given to him by a senior officer. In Under the Eagle he is the centurion of the Sixth Century, of the Fourth Cohort, of the Second Augustan Legion. By the time of The Eagle in the Sand he has risen to become the acting prefect in charge of Fort Bushir in Judea. In The Legion Cato and Macro join a legion in Egypt, with Macro receiving a temporary promotion to Primus Pilus ("First Spear" Centurion).
Macro has been close friends with Cato since Cato saved his life in the first book. This bond deepens when Macro confesses that he is illiterate and asks Cato's help in learning to read, and so maintain his position as an officer.
Quintus Licinius Cato
Cato is the son of an Imperial Freedman (former slave) in direct service of Emperor Claudius. Being born a slave himself, and the property of the state, he was given an opportunity by the Emperor as a favour to Cato's late father to enlist in the legions and be given his freedom. Cato has lived a relatively luxurious life as a slave within the Imperial palace, in comparison to the rank and file of the legions, and after accepting the Emperor's offer. he joins the Second Augustan as Macro's Optio.
In the first novel, he is only seventeen years of age, tall and gawky, and so weak-looking that many of the officers, including Macro, place bets on how long it will be before he quits, or is killed. He is promoted to the rank of Optio immediately (on orders from the Emperor) which causes the officers, and his fellow recruits to resent him further. He is however, extremely determined and proves the officers wrong throughout the series. Cato attains the rank of Centurion at the end of When the Eagle Hunts and during the events of Centurion, he is promoted to acting prefect of the Second Illyrian. Halfway through The Gladiator Cato is promoted to the rank of tribune for his mission to Egypt, temporarily outranking Macro, but at the end of the book he is awarded a temporary rank of prefect. In The Legion Cato joins a legion in Egypt and receives a temporary promotion to Senior Tribune.
Because of his palace upbringing, Cato is well-read, often portrayed as more cerebral and forward-thinking than Macro. Macro is dismissive of this at first, but eventually comes to respect Cato's talent for thinking ahead and seeing "the big picture."
First appears in Centurion (novel). Daughter of Senator Sempronius, the Emperor's ambassador to the court of Palmyra. Both Romans are trapped in the citadel while it is under siege by an army led by one of the King's rebellious sons. Refusing to be put aside as a "helpless woman," Julia helps to nurse the casualties in the citadel's makeshift field hospital. She meets Cato there, and becomes his lover and accepts his proposal of marriage. While traveling back to Rome, she and her father are shipwrecked on Crete with Macro and Cato, where she is captured by the rebel leader Ajax, but manages to escape.
Lavinia appears in the first two books and is the lover of both Cato and Vitellius. She is a slave-girl who is owned by Flavia, Vespasian's wife. In The Eagle's Conquest she betrays Cato and unwittingly helps Vitellius try to assassinate the Emperor. However, when the plot fails Vitellius kills both her and the assassin to cover himself.
First appears in The Eagle's Prophecy as the son of the Greek pirate leader Telemachus. He is captured by Macro and Cato and gives them and Vespasian the hiding place of the pirates and is used as a bargaining counter to make Telemachus surrender and hand over the Sibylline Scrolls to Vespasian. His father is crucified and Ajax is sold into slavery. He becomes a professional Secutor gladiator and is bought by a wealthy family on Crete, used both as a fighter and a sex slave by the household's wife. Freed when a massive earthquake devastates the island in The Gladiator, he leads an army of other escaped slaves and captures Macro and Julia but is defeated by Cato and his troops. However, he escapes in the end and returns in The Legion to further defy Cato and Macro by joining forces with the Nubians. Escaping capture several times, he is finally cornered by Macro and Cato in an Egyptian marsh and devoured by a crocodile.
- Vespasian: Legate of the Second Legion and Macro and Cato's commander in the first five books during the Roman conquest of Britain. Vespasian also appears in The Eagle's Prophecy as the Prefect of the naval fleet. Vespasian is often fighting in the front line with his men but is consistently at odds with his tribune Vitellius who threatens him with the knowledge that Vespasian's wife Flavia is a member of the dissident group who are conspiring to overthrow the Emperor.
- Flavia Domitilla: Vespasian's wife, who, he is chagrined to learn, is a member of the "Liberators," a group of conspirators plotting Claudius's assassination; whether she honestly believes in the republican ideals professed by the group, or is simply trying to pave the way for her own husband's ascension, is never made clear.
- Titus: Vespasian's son, who appears as an infant in the first two novels.
- Vitellius: An imperial spy with disturbing ambition who attempts to steal Caesar's pay chest in Under the Eagle and assassinate the Emperor during The Eagle's Conquest, but is thwarted by Macro and Cato both times. In The Eagle's Prophecy he is the prefect of the naval fleet but is replaced by Vespasian who leaves him to die at one point. However Vitellius survives with the Emperor and Narcissus unaware of his attempted treason. At the end of the novel, he has also seen a snippet from the Sibylline prophecies captured from the pirates which convinces him that he is destined to become emperor.
- Narcissus: Claudius's Chief Secretary and effectively Prime Minister of the whole Empire. He recruits Macro and Cato for "special" tasks around the Empire, promising them rich rewards for success, but making it clear that their lives are of little value to him or the Empire.
- Claudius: Emperor of Rome, portrayed in The Eagle's Conquest and Praetorian as a forgetful, half-witted buffoon.
- Caratacus: leader of the rebellious tribes of Britain.
- Boudicca: a young British noblewoman, who Macro becomes smitten with in the third novel, When the Eagle Hunts.
- Agrippina the Younger: the Emperor's wife and mother of Nero; appears in Prateorian;
- Nero: Claudius's stepson; appears in Prateorian;
- Brittanicus: Claudius's son; appears in Prateorian;
- Sextus Afranius Burrus: Praetorian Centurion, later prefect; appears in Prateorian;
- Gaius Ofonius Tigellinus: appears in Prateorian.
- Marcus Antonius Pallas: appears in Prateorian.