The Silver Eagle

The Silver Eagle

by Ben Kane

Hardcover

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780312536725
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication date: 03/16/2010
Series: Forgotten Legion Series , #2
Pages: 469
Product dimensions: 6.40(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.60(d)

About 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 concluding volume, The Road to Rome. He lives in England.

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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The Silver Eagle 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
readafew on LibraryThing 29 days ago
The Silver Eagle is the second book in the The Forgotten Legion Chronicles. This was an excellent continuation of the series. We catch up with our protagonists about a year after The Forgotten Legion concludes. We are deep in Margiana (Afghanistan) with Romulus, Brennus and Tarquinius as they are standing outside a secret temple for the warrior god Mithras. Tarquinus' ability to see the future has been very scarce for several months and he is being put on the spot by Pacorus the military leader to give him a believable prophecy or face death.Mithras finally grants him a vision of an immediate attack. Every time our heroes appear to get a little ahead in life something comes along and sets them back. No matter how hard it gets though the friends stick together. If it can be believed this book gets even grittier than the first and you can feel like you are in the forum during the riot. Kane once again does an excellent job of bring the past back to life and we travel to the edge of India and back across the Arabic peninsula. While with Fabiola we travel all the way to Paris to join with Caesar and then Egypt.Overall I enjoyed this book quite a bit and I am eagerly awaiting the last book in the series. It's another great story though in my opinion it isn't quite as good as the first one. I think part of the problem was it seemed to go on forever because in the last half Kane seemed to focus on things I wasn't really interested in and skimmed over parts I wanted to know more details about. That and his giving Romulus and Fabiola glimpses of a happy future only to take them away again and again. While the story was great the pattern was getting a little monotonous. Despite the small negatives I still think it was a book well worth my time to read and for anyone interested in the ancient world, a fun way to visit. Make sure you begin your journey with 'The Forgotten Legion', you won't be disappointed.
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gl More than 1 year ago
The Silver Eagle continues the interwoven stories of Ben Kane's debut novel, The Forgotten Legion. The series is set in the Roman Empire and its outskirts during the time of Julius Caesar, Pompey, Crassus, and Brutus. These historical figures play critical roles in Ben Kane's plots, but the lead protagonists are far from the seat of power. The heroes are largely taken from the conquered peoples and slaves of the Roman Empire. We encounter the three close friends and legionaries of The Forgotten Legion again. The story continues after Crassus's failed invasion of Partha and these legionaries have been incorporated into the Parthan army. Tarquinius, the Etrucscan haruspex, is under increasing pressure by the Parthian commander Pacorus to read the future and help Parthia smash all opposition. As the Parthian troops face attacks from Scythians, Tarquinius's position becomes increasingly tenuous. Brennus, the famous gladiator and former slave from Gaul, struggles to keep up his spirit but antagonism from the Parthian troops and fellow legionaries constantly weigh him down. Brennus relies upon his friendship with Tarquinius and Romulus to keep him focused and motivated. Romulus, a former slave who proved himself to be a born warrior, dreams of returning to Rome and uniting his family. Romulus, Brennus, and Tarquinius are isolated and in danger - with no one to trust but each other, they must make the journey of thousands of miles. Meanwhile, Fabiola, Romulus's beautiful twin sister, is established in Brutus's household. She's adapting to her life on her country estate when sudden violence erupts. Fabiola suddenly faces a struggle for her life and must rely on her wits, her beauty and the loyalty of those around her as she prepares to travel to Gaul to find Brutus and safety. I enjoy stories with where determined young people somehow brave all types of treachery and insurmountable odds and still somehow maintain a sense of honor. The key heroes in Ben Kane's The Silver Eagle and The Forgotten Legion have that quality and I find myself constantly rooting for Brennus, Tarquinius, Romulus, and Fabiola. Even Fabiola's Brutus is painted as an engaging and honorable man. The relationship between Fabiola and Brutus is much deeper in The Silver Eagle, which adds another interesting element to the novel. Like The Forgotten Legion, The Silver Eagle is an engrossing story of loyalty, friendship, betrayal and love during historic and tumultuous times. Ben Kane anchors the story in much historic detail which gives The Silver Eagle an added layer of depth and complexity. I stayed up much of the night reading The Silver Eagle and highly recommend it! The third in the series, The Road to Rome, comes out in August! ISBN-10: 0312536720 Hardcover Publisher: St. Martin's Press (March 16, 2010), 480 pages. Review copy provided by the publisher.