Eagle and Empire is the third and final volume of Alan Smale’s inventive alt-history series imagining Roman colonizers come to the New World circa 1200 A.D. In Clash of Eagles and Eagle in Exile, we encountered Roman Praetor Gaius Marcellinus, who came to North America to conquer it, but met defeat at the hands of the indigenous people there. Forced into a deeper understanding of the culture of an extraordinary people—whose humanity, bravery, love, and ingenuity forever changed his life and destiny—he sought to forge a peace between Rome and the city-state of Cahokia. In Eagle and Empire, available now, another invading force has arrive on his adopted shores—the Mongol hordes, coming to lay claim to what Rome could not, and destroy everything Gaius and the natives have built together.
Read an excerpt of the novel below, courtesy of Del Rey Books.
Smoke wafted across them. Marcellinus could not tell how many men were still with him. His horse’s head was bobbing, eyes wide, even as Marcellinus dug his heels into the animal’s flanks. A horse took its confidence from its rider and the other horses it could see. As the troopers were on the verge of panic, the horses they rode were right on the edge of spooking, too. If Marcellinus’s horse refused, bucked, or—even worse—bolted, their day was done and that would be that, and Marcellinus himself might be lying on the ground with a broken back, defenseless against a Mongol spear or blade.
But the horse he rode was young. Perhaps it had never yet failed a charge and so had no memory of failure.
Marcellinus and the remains of the Second Aravacorum squadron bore down upon the field of battle at speed. The Mongol horse archers were swinging around to counter them but would not form a line in time. Arrows began to fly. Disregarding them, Marcellinus headed straight for Bassus and his men, who had now achieved a messy two-line formation in the face of the approaching fire lancers.
Marcellinus thrust his first javelin down at one of the warriors on foot holding a fire lance, and even as it lodged in the man’s chest, Marcellinus twisted his second javelin free from the leather cup behind him and raised it over his head.
The Mongol warrior staggered back three paces but did not fall. He touched the slow match to the Jin salt packet on his fire lance, and the lance ignited with a roar. Dazzling flame shot out of the iron tube, a deadly tongue of fire ten feet long.
Marcellinus’s horse leaped away from the bright flame. As he grabbed at his reins, the spear slid out of his hand and clattered to the ground.
The fire lance swung around and flared directly at him. He felt the searing pain of flame across his chest and shoulder, saw bright sparks. Then his steed reared, and all at once Marcellinus was in the air.
He crashed down to earth. All the breath was knocked from his body. All around him were boots and hooves. He instinctively tried to swing his spear around before realizing that he no longer held it. Shaking his head to clear it, Marcellinus dragged in an agonizing breath and drew his spatha.
He saw flame and swung at it. His spatha rang against the metal tube of the Mongol fire lance. Marcellinus shoved himself up onto his knees and swung again.
Excerpted from EAGLE AND EMPIRE by Alan Smale Copyright © 2017 by Alan Smale. Excerpted by permission of Del Rey Books, an imprint of Random House, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.