Thursday, March 25, 2010

Book Review of The Silver Eagle by Ben Kane

I'd like to thank Ben Kane and Keith at St. Martin's Press for the review copy of The Silver Eagle and for an extra copy for one lucky reader! I'd reviewed Ben Kane's debut novel, the first in the series, called The Forgotten Legion. After reading The Forgotten Legion, I jotted down the release date of the next in the series. I enjoyed it that much. If you'd like to read my review of The Forgotten Legion and Ben Kane's account of what it was like getting his debut novel to market, head here.

The Silver Eagle (Forgotten Legion Chronicles, #2)
The blurb:
Trapped in Parthia by Crassus's failed invasion, ten thousand legionaries are captured and marched to the edge of the known world - these men are the Forgotten Legion. Among them are Romulus, Brennus, and Tarquinius, all men with troubled pasts and good reason to hate Rome. Together the trio must face the savage tribes that surround them as well as the more treacherous enemies within the ranks of the legion itself.

The three friends' characters will be tested to the utter limit as they struggle to find a way back to Rome. Meanwhile, Fabiola, Romulus's twin sister, fights to survive and maintain hope in her brother's survival. Freed by her powerful lover but beset by enemies on all sides, she must travel to Gaul to find her lover, Caesar's right-hand man, where Vercingetorix threatens the life and the lives of all who rally around Caesar.

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 $25.99
Publisher: St. Martin's Press (March 16, 2010), 480 pages.
Review copy provided by the publisher.

About the Author:
Ben Kane is the author of the critically acclaimed, The Forgotten Legion, and is at work on the concluding volume of this trilogy. He lives in England. Visit Ben Kane's website to learn more at

Bonus feature:

I had asked Ben about the research that he did for The Forgotten Legion and The Silver Eagle. Aside from knowing the military history in and out, he familiarized himself with life in Rome during 1 B.C., including the tools and implements of daily life. Including the weapons that Roman legionaries took to battle.

Here is a photo that he shared which depicts legionary equipment - the sword and shield of those time. To accompany the photo is Ben Kane's brief description. Enjoy!

BK: [Here is] a photo of two pieces of legionary equipment which were quite different to what most people think of when they imagine Rome. They are what was being used in the 1st C BC, however, and during the civil war which announced Caesar's rise to power.
The sword is the gladius hispaniensis, a much longer weapon than the Mainz or Pompeii type used in the 1st C AD, and which most people are used to from TV and films. (For this reason, I described the later one in my book, which I regret now!) It was adapted by the Romans from weapons used by the Spanish tribes they encountered when conquering the Iberian peninsula or possibly even when they were first fighting Carthage in the years 264-241 BC.
The scutum, or shield, is a curved, elongated oval shape rather than the classic curved rectangle most people are familiar with. It also has a spine running down the centre of the front.

And now - the giveaway portion! I am excited to offer the gently used advanced reader's copy of The Silver Eagle by Ben Kane. The contest is limited to the U.S. No P.O. Boxes please!. To enter, please email me at gaby317nyc at with your name, address, and either (1) your favorite historical novel and why you love it or (2) the time in history that you most love reading about and why. On the subject line please write : SILVER EAGLE. The most interesting answer wins! Giveaway ends on April 30 at noon.

1 comment:

  1. Roman Empire setting sounds GREAT!

    And I am a follower.