The continuation of Scarrow’s Under the Eagle (2001) follows the adventures of Roman Centurion Macro as he defends himself against friend and foe alike during the invasion of Britain in A.D. 43.
Macro is one of those bright lads who rise to prominence out of nowhere, only to find he has to fight harder to stay on top than he did to get there in the first place. An illiterate soldier who rose through the ranks to become a centurion (i.e., commander of a division of a hundred men), Macro has learned that intrigue kills more officers than the barbarians ever could, and he has to keep a careful eye out for Vitellius, a senior tribune of the Second Legion who is a secret spy for Emperor Claudius. Macro and Vitellius have already crossed swords over an imperial payroll that Vitellius attempted to steal, but the aristocratic tribune is too well connected to be exposed outright—least of all by a plebian like Macro. So Macro keeps out of his way and concentrates on the first task at hand: the subjugation of the British tribes united under their warlord Caratacus. The Britons outnumber the Romans many times over, but they are no match for the Romans’ superior organization and strategy, and the conquest of their capital city Camulodunum (London) is only a matter of time. Once the victory is assured, however, a new danger arises when Vitellius attempts to overthrow Macro’s commander Vespasian, whose wife Flavia is connected with a secret society of republicans plotting to overthrow the emperor. The emperor, therefore, needs to return to Rome as soon as possible, put down the schemers in the senate, and have himself declared a god. In other words, politics as usual for the Roman Empire.
Good, clean, intelligent fun—even the frequent anachronisms (e.g., ancient Romans exclaiming “Bloody marvelous!”) can’t spoil the show. (N.B.: Caratacus escapes. Prepare for another installment.)