Give Me Back My Legions!

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Give Me Back My Legions! is a 2009 historical novel by Harry Turtledove. While Turtledove is mainly known for alternate history novels, this novel is a historical novel, in which the real-life events leading up to the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest, as well as the battle itself, are re-created.

Explanation of the title[edit]

The title refers to Emperor Augustus' alleged words in the aftermath of the battle, in which he was so devastated by the annihilation of three Roman legions that he spent the next several weeks in a stupor, repeating the phrase "Give me back my legions!" (some translators replace "legions" with "Eagles").


Publius Quinctilius Varus, formerly the governor of Syria, is appointed to the governorship of Germany, a hold-out full of what the Romans thought of as barbarians. During a brief assignment to the Legions in Dalmatia, Varus befriends the Germani auxiliary commander Arminius, unaware that the latter has plans of his own for the Romans occupying Germany. As many as 3 legions of approx 20,000 heavily armed infantary of Romans was brutally killed by the ambushed germanic forces. Though the forces were not trained army still the tactics of Arminius proved conclusive. The Roman army was misled in the name of a small revolt in a nearby west village. When Varus decided to give it preference and deterred from normal path into the rain forests, he was entrapped and for 3 days the Germanic Tribes surrounded and killed them along with some civilians (family of soldiers). Some were even taken captive—most of whom were sacrificed on altar for Germanic Gods. Only a few were alive, which after 40 years were relieved when Romans attacked Germania again.[1]


As with many of Turtledove's novels, we see several viewpoint characters, including Arminius, Varus, Segestes and others.


  1. ^ "Lost Legions of Varus". The Romans. 14 Jun 2014.