Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Eagle in the Snow” as Want to Read:
Eagle in the Snow
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Eagle in the Snow

4.11 of 5 stars 4.11  ·  rating details  ·  991 ratings  ·  70 reviews
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 c ...more
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published August 7th 2003 by Weidenfeld & Nicholson (first published 1970)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Eagle in the Snow, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Eagle in the Snow

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Jason Golomb
"Eagle In The Snow" by Wallace Breem centers on the years 405 AD to early 407, capturing a key moment in the Roman Empire's death throes as hundreds of thousands of mostly Germanic peoples mass on the east bank of the Rhine waiting for the river to freeze and to walk into Gaul. The tale is an epitaph for the Roman Empire with General Paulinus Gaius Maximus serving as the lone pall bearer, carrying the weight of an empire marching inexorably toward its grave.

Compared to the action adventures of S
I am by no means a regular reader of historical fiction, but whatever genre you want to file EAGLE IN THE SNOW under, it's an absolute masterpiece: a gripping and terrifying story told in prose that is literary and beautiful but never flowery. As the Roman Empire is crumbling in the early Fifth Century, a Legion is sent to try to hold the Rhine during a bitter winter, and keep the massing barbarian tribes from crossing. The tribes are waiting for the Rhine to freeze over. As Stephen Pressfield's ...more
A splendid novel: an absolute masterpiece!!! I loved the author's style and descriptions of the bleak landscape, forts, and towns; I could feel every sword thrust, the ice and snow, every emotion of the protagonist! The mood of foreboding permeated the whole novel. Set in the 4th and 5th centuries, the time of Honorius, Stilicho, and Galla Placidia, the story is told in the first person in flashback by the dour Roman General Maximus, to a group of tribesmen in Segontium (modern-day Caernarfon, W ...more
E.M. Epps
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 ...more
Oct 23, 2011 Curtiss rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone
This is the story of the Roman leader Paulinus Maximus, who first serves on the frontier in Britain along Hadrian's wall, where he suppresses a bloody revolt by the Picts led by a former childhood friend. While contending with the Picts he hears word of the loss of two legions along the Danube, with the chilling realization that the Empire and even civilization itself may not last forever.

He is then posted on the Rhine to defend against the Germanic tribes with only a single legion. He deftly pa
Alex Harrison
Absolutely tremendous novel that deals with the waning of the Roman empire and is a terrific, exciting read. Imagine the first half hour of "Gladiator" but better. The general here is also a Maximus, but not the same; this Maximus has to stand against the enormous hordes that are about to sweep over the Northern borders of the Roman empire, and who will basically end the empire in the West.

A magnificent book.
First of all-Steven Presfield's prologue should be read carefully and be taken as an oath for anyone who tries to crate a historical-fiction book. In one single page he describes the process in an elaborate way.

About the book- Maximus is a man of honour and duty. A strong character lawfull to his orders, a man who decides to stay and fight till the end,knowning that this will be his last battle. Like the Spartan Leonidas he fights till the bitter end, but not to delay his enemies and awaken tho
This one started off slow for me and didn't really grab my full attention until really towards the end. Throughout the book, I felt disconnected with the characters and felt they were not developed well. They felt flat and unemotional. I found myself struggling to remember names, places and events. At times, I felt like this might end up being a 2.5 star read and at others a solid 3 stars. The end really picked up during the last battle scene and it was here, finally, that I felt I could really ...more
Simon Turney
I finished this fairly recently after having had it recommended to me by several different people and heard it called the 'seminal work of Roman fiction'.

The thing that stopped it from being a 5* book for me was the pace and POV. I'm not a lover of first person perspective in books and, while I can cope with that on a pacy, exciting read, I found the novel hard going at times.

That is more than made up for really by the main character and the general feel of the book. It is almost possible to fee
Daniel Granados
This book gives great portrayals of what made Rome in one of the last stands against the barbarians. Maximus remains true as we see him hold to Roman gravitas and discipline in the face of insurmountable odds. The corruption, the weakness of civic leaders, the citizens unwilling to serve, all leading to the fall of Rome. The soldiers fight and die because they know how to do nothing else, but was it worth the cost?
This is not a book that will inspire hope. You will be left feeling the bitter col
Kristen Smith
It was truly OK. I admire the research that Breem put into this novel. His personal experiences obviously influenced it in a good way. I wanted this novel to be as good as the intro and blurbs said it was.
This novel only needed a few tweaks to make it the brilliant and moving novel that the introduction and jacket quotes say it is. Unfortunately, the tweaks were not done.
The relationships and nuances were too subtle so as to be lost in the confusing passages of time and additions of new characte
Bryn Hammond
He has a great plot to work with but what isn't history is contrived. Thinly written, even the battles can be flatly written - or sentimental.

I can see why this might have been a milestone, why people who came early might be attached to it. Perhaps it's aged poorly; it seemed a tissue of cliches to me.
Sungmin Han
This book is a historical fiction novel about the Roman Empire before the collapse. The background given is during the invasion of the Western Roman Empire by German tribes. The main character is general Maximus who is Greek but has never been to the Roman capital. He was a general who was not corrupted like others and rational enough so that the soldiers could obey him. He had a dream to get the capital someday. However, he was assigned an order from Stilicho, who was a general, to defend a bor ...more
One of my favorite historic military reads. Set during the waning days of the Empire when the Romans are under ever increasing pressure to hold back the "Barbarians" in Northern and central Europe. Snapped this book out of a bargain bin 10 years ago and will likely never part with it.
A stark, tragic story of the twilight of the Western Roman Empire. The fragility of the frontier, the stagnation of a once-great empire, the last march of the Twentieth Legion and their final battle are all so poignantly portrayed.
Carol Smith
Goodness, I am a stubborn reader. Took me 10 days to finish this disappointment, largely because I kept falling asleep each time I picked it up. Great for insomniacs.

It had everything going for it - I love military history, enjoy historical fiction, have been reading quite a bit on ancient civilizations over the past two years, am hopefully visiting Rome in December, and it's a "classic bestseller" with oodles of positive GoodReads reviews. Alas.

It was clearly meticulously - exhaustively - resea
Darkpool (protesting GR censorship)
Super good. Such atmospheric writing. The description of the cold of winter left me feeling chilled. Not at all surprised this is a classic.
Rob Chmara
It's not often you see a novel about the legions set in the warning days of the empire. Most tend to be set during or right after the reign of Claudius during what's considered the heyday of Roman power. This novel is excellent and shows the problems facing the army in the empire's dying days. Logistical problems, desertions, traitors and an out of touch civilian government all contribute to the difficult situation in which the 20th Legion finds itself. A brilliant novel of courage in dire circu ...more
A superb account of the final collapse of Rome's Rhine frontier in the 4th century. Grim, powerful, compelling.
They don't get any better than this. I understand it was out of print for a long time. Well worth bringing back!
Simon Cook
This book gets excellent reviews from other readers. I can see why. The writing is basically sound and - more importantly - the gritty detail of army life and intense appreciation of logistics are certainly impressive. But I confess that I have not finished and doubt by now that I will return to it. The story begins with the Romans in Britain but the main action - where I left things - is with the Roman defense of the Rhine against an inevitable barbarian invasion. The inevitability is the probl ...more
Before I divulge into my review I must say that my rating reflects less how much I enjoyed the book and more my ambivalence. There's no need to explain what this book is about since others have done that far better than I could so I'll just state what the high and low points were. First of all I really enjoyed how this book starts and I thought the set up towards the large battle was done very nicely; Breem has a smooth writing style and the socio-economic and political aspects are present but d ...more
Italo Italophiles
Eagle in the Snow is widely recognized as a modern classic in the historical fiction genre, creating living characters, set in a factually correct past, that is brought to life through the skill of the writer.

I must say, right up front, that this is a book for fans of Ancient Roman history and military warfare. The terrible outcomes of the military struggles described in the book are known by history, so the struggles and efforts of the characters can be a bit depressing (I had to read the book
Scott Childs
his novel is must read for history buffs, and those that like military combat. Set in the dying days of the Roman Empire, this novel revolves primarily in one area and around one issue: Germania. For Germania (also known as Germany) has many tribes that are trying to move, and they just want peaceful land to settle in. That's where the Roman Legions come in.
The main protagonist in this novel, the Roman General Paulinus Gaius Maximus, is shown to be quick thinking, and one of constant perseveran
Calum Shaw
Aug 06, 2007 Calum Shaw rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Ste
Shelves: fiction
This book is well worth reading. I’d have given it three stars were it not for Breem’s meticulous attention to the details. Indeed, it’s the historical details that make the book but their description holds it back.

Breem delivers us an impeccable story that centres on a hero that is slightly out of keel with the usual ancient hero we are used to thoughtlessly scoffing down. General Maximus is a stoic, loyal type that knows his place and his job. He is very disciplined and personifies the type of
Ste H
Jul 06, 2007 Ste H rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who like period-adventure
The tag on the bakcover of the copy I had said that 'this is the original period novel', or something of the like. Well I would not go that far, but it certainly made me feel like I was reading something original.
Apparently the film 'Gladiator' was based on this book, the similarities are the main character's name 'Maximus'; a roman army commander, a character who becomes a gladiator and the end of an emporer. That's about it. Most of this book resembles the famous opening sequence of the film,
John Salter
Eagle in the Snow by Wallace Breem is an old book, early eighties, I think 1982 (off the top of my head) however....its a great story and a good book and certainly worth reading. It is set around the decline of the Roman Empire and is primarily about a Roman General who 'narrates' the story, Paulinus Gaius Maximus.

The story itself starts in Roman Britain on Hadrians wall where Maximus is stationed but quickly moves to central Europe where Germanic tribes are causing problems and taking over any
My real strength in Roman history lies in the period of the late Republic. Knowing little of the period of Empire, and, beyond that, the era of Christian Rome, this book was interesting as the main character, Maximus, dealt with his own demons in confronting the official state religion with his own observance of Mithras. The book starts off dreadfully dull, with a slow tour of England and the bank of the Rhine. Once the first year on the Rhine has passed, however, the book picks up, but never ha ...more
-Del heroísmo y la irracionalidad, que tantas veces caminan de la mano hacia el campo donde crecen las phalerae y los torquex-.

Género. Novela histórica

Lo que nos cuenta. Paulino Gayo Máximo, antiguo general romano con mucha experiencia entre los limitanei y comitatenses, echa la vista atrás al final de sus días y nos cuenta su vida, marcada por sus duras experiencias personales y castrenses, centrándose en su participación dentro de los acontecimientos que desembocaron en el estallido del violen
Belinda Burke
A truly stunning piece of historical fiction, which manages to capture both the mood of the time period and the events taking place with phenomenal accuracy. The characters are finely drawn, and their personal struggles complement the historical struggles going on around them.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
  • Pride of Carthage
  • Wounds of Honour (Empire, #1)
  • Memnon
  • Ship of Rome (Masters of the Sea, #1)
  • Hero of Rome (Gaius Valerius Verrens, #1)
  • Marius' Mules: The Invasion of Gaul (Marius' Mules, #1)
  • Hannibal: Enemy of Rome (Hannibal, #1)
  • Tyrant (Tyrant, #1)
  • Tribune of Rome (Vespasian, #1)
  • Fire in the East (Warrior of Rome, #1)
  • The Siege (Agent of Rome, #1)
  • The Ten Thousand: A Novel of Ancient Greece
  • Island of Ghosts
  • Dawn Of Empire
  • Rome: The Emperor's Spy (Rome, #1)
  • Legionary (Legionary, #1)
  • The Virtues of War: A Novel of Alexander the Great
  • The Whale Road (Oathsworn, #1)
Wallace Wilfred Swinburne Breem was a British librarian and author, the Librarian and Keeper of Manuscripts of the Inner Temple Law Library at his death, but perhaps more widely known for his historical novels, including the classic Eagle in the Snow (1970).

At the age of 18, Breem entered the Indian Army's Officers Training School, and in 1945 was commissioned as an officer of the Corps of Guides,
More about Wallace Breem...
The Legate's Daughter Leopard and the Cliff Bibliography of Commonwealth Law Reports International Legal Books in Print, 1990-1991

Share This Book

“Maximus said, "They have no tombstones. Not one man in Treverorum wept for their passing." he looked at his audience in turn and smiled. "In the name of Mithras, my master, may the gods be kind to you on your journey.” 0 likes
More quotes…