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The Silver Eagle

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Overview

They fought against almighty odds at the very edge of the known world – and lost. Ten thousand legionaries are all that are left of a once powerful Roman army.

In the first century B.C., trapped in Parthia by Crassus's failed invasion, the legionaries that survived are captured and marched to the edge of the known world. Abandoned by Rome, these men are the Forgotten Legion. Among them are three friends, Brennus the Gaul, Tarquinun the Etruscan soothsayer and Romulus, ...

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The Silver Eagle: A Novel of the Forgotten Legion

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Overview

They fought against almighty odds at the very edge of the known world – and lost. Ten thousand legionaries are all that are left of a once powerful Roman army.

In the first century B.C., trapped in Parthia by Crassus's failed invasion, the legionaries that survived are captured and marched to the edge of the known world. Abandoned by Rome, these men are the Forgotten Legion. Among them are three friends, Brennus the Gaul, Tarquinun the Etruscan soothsayer and Romulus, a runaway slave and the bastard son of a Roman nobleman.  All men with troubled pasts and united in their hatred of Rome, they never stop dreaming of Freedom. Together they must face the savage tribes that surround them as well as the more treacherous enemies within the ranks of the legion itself. Their character will be tested to the utter limit as they struggle to find a way back to Rome. Meanwhile, Fabiola, Romulus' twin sister, tries to maintain hope of her brother's survival while fighting for her own. Freed by her powerful lover but beset by enemies on all sides, she must travel to Gaul to find her lover, the right-hand man of Julius Caesar.  But in Gaul, her lover is fighting for his very life against Vercingetorix, whose rampaging army threatens to destroy all who rally around Caesar.

Together these characters, whose lives are intertwined and their stories interwoven, bring to life an truly epic story of the late Roman Republic and the ancient world in which it thrived.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Lively...riveting...Kane clearly knows the history of the period, and his story is rich in accurate historical detail. The characterizations are finely drawn and set against a dangerous, cruel, but often thrilling landscape." —Booklist on The Forgotten Legion

"A pleasure for those like history and great adventure...recommended for historical fiction collections." —Library Journal on Forgotten Legion

Publishers Weekly
Kane's ambitious sequel to The Forgotten Legion continues his chronicle of life in the tumultuous Roman Republic. After four years as a prostitute, Fabiola becomes the lover of the powerful Decimus Brutus, a top lieutenant of Julius Caesar. Her two fiery obsessions are to exploit her social status to track down her rapist father and to reunite with her brother, Romulus, a gladiator turned legionnaire captured by the Parthians at Carrahae. Forced to serve in the Parthian army, Romulus dreams of returning to his native Rome, his quest helped along by a soothsayer and a soldier from Gaul. The siblings' parallel adventures unfold in propulsive alternating chapters, with military campaigns and pitched battles making up the bulk of the narrative excitement. The historical details, graphic combat sequences, and finely drawn characters lift Kane's title above standard swords-and-sandals fare and should keep series fans sated until the next installment. (Mar.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312672843
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 3/15/2011
  • Series: Forgotten Legion Chronicles Series
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 480
  • Sales rank: 236,581
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.10 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet the Author

BEN KANE is the author of the critically acclaimed, internationally bestselling The Forgotten Legion, the first in the Forgotten Legion Chronicles, as well as the forthcoming concluding volume, The Road to Rome. He lives in England.

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Read an Excerpt

I

THE MITHRAEUM

EASTERN MARGIANA, WINTER 53. 52 bc

A good mile from the fort, the Parthians finally came to a halt. When the steady crunch of boots and sandals on frosty ground ceased, an overwhelming silence descended. Quiet coughs and the jingle of mail fell away, absorbed by the freezing air. Darkness had not quite fallen, allowing Romulus to take in their destination: a nondescript cliff face of weathered, gray- brown rocks that formed the end of a range of low hills. Peering into the gathering gloom, the powerfully built young soldier tried to see what had brought the warriors here. There were no buildings or structures in sight, and the winding path they had been following appeared to come to a dead end at the cliff’s foot. Raising an eyebrow, he turned to Brennus, his friend and surrogate father. “What in Jupiter’s name are we doing here?”

“Tarquinius knows something,” grunted Brennus, hunching his great shoulders under his thick military cloak. “As usual.”

“But he won’t tell us!” Romulus cupped his hands and blew on them, trying to prevent his fingers and face from going completely numb. His aquiline nose already was.

“It’ll come out eventually,” the pigtailed Gaul replied, chuckling.

Romulus’s protest died away. His eagerness would not speed things up. Patience, he thought.

Against their skin, the two men wore cloth jerkins. Over these, standard-issue mail shirts. While affording good protection against blades, the heavy iron rings constantly drained away their body heat. Woollen cloaks and scarves and the felt liners under their bronze bowl-shaped crested helmets helped a little, but their calf-length russet trousers and heavy studded caligae, or sandals, exposed too much fl esh to allow any comfort.

“Go and ask him,” urged Brennus with a grin. “Before our balls drop off .”

Romulus smiled.

They had both demanded an explanation from the Etruscan haruspex when he’d appeared in their fuggy barrack room a short time earlier. Typically, Tarquinius gave away little, but he had muttered something about a special request from Pacorus, their commander. And the chance of seeing if there was a way out of Margiana. Unwilling to let their friend go off alone, the pair also jumped at the chance of some information.

The last few months had provided a welcome break from the constant fighting of the previous two years. Gradually, however, their life in a Roman fort turned into a numbing routine. Physical training followed guard duty; the repair of equipment replaced parade drill. Occasional patrols provided little in the way of excitement. Even the tribes that raided Margiana did not campaign in winter weather. Tarquinius’s offer therefore seemed heaven- sent.

Yet Romulus’s purpose tonight was more than simple thrill-seeking. He was desperate for even the briefest mention of Rome. The city of his birth now lay on the other side of the world, with thousands of miles of harsh landscape and hostile peoples in between. Was there any chance he might return there one day? Like nearly all his comrades, Romulus dreamed of that possibility day and night. Here, at the ends of the earth, there was nothing else to hold on to, and this unexplained excursion might provide a sliver of hope.

“I’ll wait,” he replied at length. “After all, we volunteered to come.” He stamped resignedly from foot to foot. Suspended by a leather carrying strap, his elongated oval shield, or scutum, swung off his shoulder with the movement. “And you’ve seen the mood Pacorus is in. He’d probably cut my balls off for just asking. They’re better freezing.”

A laugh rumbled in Brennus’s throat.

Short and swarthy, Pacorus was at the head of the party, dressed in a richly decorated jerkin, trousers, and ankle boots, with a conical Parthian hat and a long bearskin cloak to keep him warm. Under the fur, a delicate gold belt circling his waist had two curved daggers and a jewel-hilted sword slung from it. A brave but ruthless man, Pacorus led the Forgotten Legion, the remnants of a huge Roman army defeated the previous summer by the Parthian general Surena. Together with Tarquinius, the friends were now merely three of its rank- and-filers.

Once more, Romulus was a captive.

It was ironic, he thought, that his life should be spent exchanging one master for another. First it had been Gemellus, the brutal merchant who owned his entire family—Velvinna, his mother, Fabiola, his twin sister, and himself. Falling on hard times, Gemellus had sold Romulus at thirteen to Memor, the lanista of the Ludus Magnus, Rome’s largest gladiator school. Although less casually cruel than Gemellus, Memor’s sole business was training slaves and criminals to fight and die in the arena. Men’s lives meant nothing to him. At that memory, Romulus spat. To survive in the ludus, he had been forced to end a man’s life. More than once. Kill or be killed: Brennus’s mantra rang in his ears.

Romulus checked that his short, double-edged gladius was loose in its scabbard, that the bone- handled dagger on the other side of his belt was ready for use. The actions were second nature to him now. A grin creased his face as he caught Brennus doing the same. Like all Roman soldiers, they also carried two iron- headed javelins, or pila. Their companions, a score of Pacorus’s best warriors, stood in marked contrast to them. Clad in simpler versions of their se nior’s clothing, and with a slit-sided woollen cloak rather than a thick fur one, each man was armed with a long knife and a slim case that hung from his right hip. This was large enough to carry his recurved composite bow and a supply of arrows. Proficient with many weapons, the Parthians were first and foremost a nation of highly skilled archers. It was fortunate that he had met none of them in the arena, thought Romulus. All were able to loose half a dozen shafts in the time a man could run a hundred paces. And every one accurate enough to kill.

Fortunately, the ludus was also where he had met Brennus. Romulus threw him a grateful look. Without the Gaul’s friendship, he would have soon succumbed to the savage life. Instead, over two years had passed with only a single life- threatening injury. Then, late one night, a street brawl had gone horribly wrong, and the friends had had to flee Rome together. Joining the army as mercenaries, the general Crassus had become their new master. Politician, millionaire, and member of Rome’s ruling triumvirate, he was desperate for the military recognition possessed by his two colleagues, Julius Caesar and Pompey Magnus. Arrogant fool, thought Romulus. If he’d been more like Caesar, we’d all be home by now. Instead of fame and glory, Crassus led thirty-five thousand men to a bloody, ignominious defeat at Carrhae. The survivors—about one- third of the army—had been taken prisoner by the Parthians, whose brutality outstripped even that of Memor. Given the stark choices of having molten gold poured down their throats, being crucified, or serving in a border force on Parthia’s unsettled eastern frontier, Romulus and his comrades had naturally chosen the last.

Romulus sighed, no longer so sure that their choice had been correct. It seemed they would spend the rest of their lives fighting their captors’ historical enemies: savage nomadic tribes from Sogdia, Bactria, and Scythia.

He was here to find out if that miserable fate could be avoided.

Excerpted from The Silver Eagle by Ben Kane.

Copyright © 2009 by Ben Kane.

Published in March 2010 by St. Martin’s Press.

All rights reserved. This work is protected under copyright laws and reproduction is strictly prohibited. Permission to reproduce the material in any manner or medium must be secured from the Publisher.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 15 )
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Sort by: Showing 1 – 14 of 15 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 23, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    a great ancient historical thriller

    In 53 BC the Parthian army defeated General Crassus and his invading Roman legion. Their leader dead, thousands of the invaders are captured and either killed or forced to join their triumphant enemy. Three friends form the losing side (Tarquinius the Etruscan haruspex, former slave Brennus the gladiator from Gaul and Romulus also a former slave turned warrior) are forced to join the winning enemy.

    Parthian Commander Pacorus orders Tarquinius to read the future using animal entrails or whatever as his army prepares for battle. However, the trio has problems as the Parthian soldiers resent how close their still enemy Tarquinius seems to be with their commander. They help each other stay focused and alive as they plan their escape, which means trekking from the Asian state across thousands of kilometers through hostile savage territory in order to return to Rome.

    At the same, Romulus's twin sister Fabiola joins the seemingly serene household of Brutus, but savagery leaves her struggling for her life with no protection. Her only hope is to travel to Gaul to find Brutus.

    The sequel to The Forgotten Legion, The Silver Eagle is a great ancient historical thriller in which the only way the three BFFs make it back to Rome is having each other's back; in spite of their diverse background the trio are a sort of Three Musketeers but in Roman times. The Fabiola subplot augments a powerful vivid (some chapters should have a warning label: don't read on a full stomach) look at friendship as the forgotten legionnaires struggle to survive in a world filled with deadly peril.

    Harriet Klausner

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 9, 2010

    Great Historical Fiction

    This series by Kane is very well-written and cover's Roman History in a manner that holds enough fact to be reassuring and yet enough character development and unique topics/issues to be refreshingly entertaining. The one drawback is the lack of detail or focus on actual fight scenes, but this may be due to Kane's emphasis of big picture issues.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 1, 2014

    Good read, but too much not following actual history

    good adventure story, but lacking in historical accuracy. Good fun read if actual history is not that important.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 11, 2013

    Wyoming reader

    Enjoy ben kanes books very much however got tired of fabiola and her scheming loved tarquinus and brennan romulas had great adventures and excellent companions but would have been better without fabiola.just my opinion other than that excellent read

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  • Posted February 28, 2012

    good book

    Ben Kane's writing style is great. He makes it easy to go totally into the story and his character's are very believable.

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  • Posted July 29, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Not This Time

    I enjoyed the first book in this series, The Forgotten Legion, but this was not my cup of tea. I got about halfway through it before putting it down for good. Author Kane has amped up the cruelty and violence to the point that most of the book seems taken up by it. And the plot basically lurches from one cliffhanger situation to another; Faviola's story has turned into The Perils of Pauline. The constant mistreatment of the lead characters by the villainous element becomes monontonous after awhile. The series still has at least one book following this one, but I doubt I could put myself through more of this harrowing narrative before a happy ending is finally reached.

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