Title: Eagles in the Storm
Author: Ben Kane
Publisher: Arrow Books
Synopsis: Arminius has been defeated, one of the three eagles has been recovered, and thousands of German tribesmen slain. Yet these successes aren’t nearly enough for senior centurion Lucius Tullus. Not until Arminius is dead, his old legion’s eagle liberated and the enemy tribes completely vanquished will he rest. But Arminius is still at large, devious, fearless and burning for revenge of his own. Charismatic as ever, he raises another large tribal army, which will harry the Romans the length and breadth of the land. Into this cauldron of bloodshed, danger and treachery, Tullus must go – alone. His mission – to find and bring back his legion’s eagle – will place him in more danger than he has ever faced before. Can he succeed? Can he even survive?
Having devoured the first two books of the trilogy, I wasn’t waiting around to read Eagles in the Storm. The second book had a shift in focus: the Romans weren’t the victims any longer but fighting back, rediscovering their pride and prepared to fight until the very end. I couldn’t wait to see where the third – and final book – was going to take their story.
After the overwhelming defeat in the first book, there’s a shift across the second and third. In book two, they are fighting back. By the third book, they are mustering to attack, determined to end the threat once and for all. While they might be outnumbered, while they know their enemy can use the land to their advantage, pride and defiance is on their side this time and they will not back down.
This kept the pace steady, but it wasn’t as tense as previously: the two opposing sides were evenly matched, removing the heart-in-mouth feeling of wondering if your favourite characters were going to survive. However, it was rewarding seeing our heroes finally getting the chance to attack, to fight back and try and reclaim their honour and pride that had been missing since book one.
As much as I love the battles, it’s the characters that made this trilogy for me.
“Shields up. Javelins ready. With me!” Hefting his shield, Tullus strode after Bassius’ century.
Danger and death beckoned, yet Tullus hadn’t felt this alive in years.
I never did warm to Arminius. You see his desperation this time, his control slipping as he realises everything he has worked towards is disappearing. I never wanted him to succeed: his arrogance makes him unlikeable. The other characters call him out on this arrogance, which works to make him a well-fleshed-out character.
It’s Tullus that once again wins the spot of favourite character, making him a firm favourite from the start. There’s no overlong descriptions about him being a good man, but the way his soldiers react to him, the way he reacts to praise and recognition, show he can be both proud and humble. He’s loyal, he’s strong and he refuses to give up, regardless of the situation. He’s good with his men; he’s approachable and willing to listen but is ready to inspire them when the situation calls for it.
Piso breaks the tension with his scheming and his pranks. He’s a loveable character, and also the one who managed to break my heart. Just when you think everyone has made it through the fight unscathed…
I love the writing style. The descriptions transport you to those battle-fields, even a few moments that make you grimace. But there is nothing too graphic. There are also a few time jumps; you don’t need to know about every battle, you just know it happened and what the outcome was. It keeps the pace moving and heightens the tension for when the reader is drawn into the fighting.
I don’t know what else to say: I thoroughly enjoyed this trilogy. If you’re a fan of historical fiction, especially from the Roman era, Ben Kane is one you have to read!