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Eagle in the Snow by Wallace Breem
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Eagle in the Snow (1970)

by Wallace Breem

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Showing 1-5 of 11 (next | show all)
“Eagle in the Snow” is a historical novel set in the part of Germany that was under Roman control in the 5th century. I found this a fascinating story of “…how the last of the Eagles was destroyed by a river of ice.” (From the prologue.)

The Roman Empire is on its last legs, with its legions too reduced and scattered to be effectual anywhere. Paulinus Gaius Maximus is the Roman general entrusted with keeping the barbarians out of Gaul. His front line is the 78 miles of the Rhenus River (now Rhine) from modern Koblenz to Worms, Germany, using one legion (6,000 men) for a job that previously utilized (and still needed) 80,000 men.

From the summer of 405 AD until January 16 of 407, Maximus recruits, trains, builds, plans and battles to keep the line. Except for the prologue and epilogue, Maximus narrates the story. The author does a fine job of getting you into the time, seeing what the Romans thought was necessary to keep the peace, and how they went about doing their jobs, part of their problem being the political intrigue of the time.

Sense of time and sense of place were very well done. ( )
  countrylife | Jun 15, 2016 |
Probably not exactly how it happened. However, an interesting take that the freezing of the Rhine River allowed the barbarian hordes to invade the empire. Even if the Rhine had not frozen, I think the Empire was doomed anway. ( )
  jerry-book | Jan 26, 2016 |
While I was reading this, by happenstance my uncle (a naval man) began a blog post with a quote: "Amateurs talk tactics; professionals talk logistics." And that sums up the consummately professional Eagle in the Snow in a nutshell: it is a book about logistics. If you are looking for Hollywood-style speechifying, swordfights and fanfare, look elsewhere. If you want to experience alongside the main character what it's like to be a Roman general just before the fall of the Empire, trying to raise an army and get them equipped before the German tribes overrun your frontier - which we, as readers, know they eventually will - then this is the book for you. Not for everybody, but if you like realistic military history, delay not: get a copy. I knew what was going to happen at the end, and I still cried. Tragic and perfect. This will be on my best-of-the-year list.

Two days later I rode southwest in the spring sunshine. Behind me I left my youth, my middle age, my wife, and my happiness. I was a general now and I had only defeat or victory to look forward to. There was no middle way any longer, and I did not care.

Review from my blog, This Space Intentionally Left Blank ( )
  emepps | Jan 23, 2015 |
Fascinating, realistic, well-done. Made me want to read and learn more. ( )
  VictoriaJZ | Dec 28, 2013 |
If you like military history, you will like this. If you like Roman history, you will like this. If you are more interested in historical characters, in their psychology and personality, this might not be your historical novel. Too much military strategy and description of battles for my taste. ( )
  lornay | Nov 11, 2012 |
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Epigraph
Dedication
First words
You think I am lucky because I am old, because I knew a world that was not turned upside down.
Quotations
He had no initiative, no imagination, no understanding. It was hard to blame him. He was, after all, only a civil servant.
It was full of polite evasions, veiled threats, meaningless assurances, and hollow sincerities, the whole so wrapped in the stilted language of the civil administration as to rob the contents of any value whatsoever.
DIS MANIBUS P GAIO MAXIMO FILIO CLAUDII ARELATISPRAEFECTUS I COH TUNG LEG XX VAL VIC DUX MOGUNTIACENSIS COMES GALLIARUM ANN LXVII CCCCX ET Q VERONIO PRAEFECTUS ALAE PETRIAE PRAEFECTUS II COH ASTUR MAGISTER EQUITUM GERMANIAE SUPER ANN LXVI CECIDIT BELLO RHENO CCCCVII SA TURNINUS AMICUS FECIT
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0297645617, Hardcover)

The year is 406. A single Roman legion stands guard on the Rhine. Only these few men, a thin stretch of river and the determination of their general, Maximus, hold the frontier for Rome against the barbarian hordes. Maximus is urged to proclaim himself emperor, but he stands by his concept of duty and holds the frontier for longer than seems possible. Then chance plays a cruel trick ...First published in 1970, EAGLE IN THE SNOW is a taut, gripping story of the fall of the Roman Empire in microcosm, as seen through the eyes of Maximus. 'It has the feel of a crumbling frontier world, and a Roman world at that...A triumph.' John Terraine 'This is a magnificent panorama of a splintering civilization, elegaic and deeply moving, its reissue is long overdue.' GOOD BOOK GUIDE 'Wallace Breem belongs to that very short list of writers whose work elevates historical fiction beyond the genre and sets it alongside the best writing of any kind, in any period.' Steven Pressfield

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:42 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

The year is 406. A single Roman legion stands guard on the Rhine. Only these few men, a thin stretch of river and the determination of their general, Maximus, hold the frontier for Rome against the barbarian hordes.

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