“The Legion” by Simon Scarrow is a hugely entertaining and red-blooded rampage through the Eastern Mediterranean.
Released in hardback on November 11th 2010, the buccaneering novel details the struggles of two battle hardened Roman soldiers are on the lookout for a fugitive slave who is rousing a rebel army against the Emperor.
This extract is taken from “The Legion” courtesy of Headline Publishing Group:
Even though the sun began to descend from its zenith, the stifling heat did not seem to abate as the afternoon crept by. The column struck on, burdened by the cumbersome weight of their shields and tormented by thirst. As the sun slipped into the haze that banded the horizon, the glare mercifully subsided and the reeds began to shade the Roman soldiers, panting from the day’s exertions. Cato had never known such exhaustion before. Even when he first joined the legion and endured days of route marches, rising at first light, marching in full kit for sixteen miles and then putting up tents, making cooking fires and only then being allowed to rest, until his turn came at sentry duty. That had been tiring enough, he recalled, but it had been in the temperate climate of the northern frontier in Germania. Here, the heat stench, insects and the roots and obstacles under the water that threatened to trip up the unwary all combined intolerably and sapped Cato’s strength. Only his will to continue kept him moving forward, step by step.
From the author of The Gladiator and Centurion, a thoroughly researched tale transports the reader back into the times of Emperor Claudius. The heat of the Egyptian sun and the humidity of the mangrove swamps surround the mind and a country comes to life; surviving on trade, Imperial protection and the vacillations of the Nile.
A warning should be issued, for the battle scenes are graphic and involve violence such as beheading, massacres and torture. A plethora of weapons cause a myriad of damage to Egyptians, Gladiators and soldiers alike. Such scenes are brief, however, and are tempered by a fast-moving plot.
Scarrow has made some careful choices on the use of modern language, which is balanced with ancient references. Although phrases such as “It’s like hunting for a grain of sand in a sack of salt” may elicit a wry smile, the straightforward dialogue allows the plot to move on without getting bogged down in archaic tones.
This book is to be recommended as a short and fast-paced action novel filled with heroes, villains and all the glory of the Roman Empire.