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Eagle in the Snow: A Novel of General Maximus and Rome's Last Stand
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Monthly Group Reads > NOVEMBER 2012 (Group Read 1) : Eagle in the Snow by Wallace Breem

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message 1: by Terri, Wyrd bið ful aræd (last edited Oct 16, 2012 12:06AM) (new) - added it

Terri | 18746 comments Discussion thread for the November Group Read: Eagle in the Snow.
Eagle in the Snow by Wallace Breem

A novel about General Maximus, one of the inspirations behind Ridley Scott's massively successful film GLADIATOR.

The year is 406, and the hero of this remarkable historical novel (soon to become a film) is the commander Maximus. Only a single Roman legion stands guard on the Rhine, and these few men, led by the determined general, must somehow hold off the barbarian hordes. A taut and gripping story of the fall of the Roman empire, as seen through Maximus's eyes.

Banished to the Empire's farthest outpost, veteran warrior Paulinus Maximus defends The Wall of Britannia from the constant onslaught of belligerent barbarian tribes. Bravery, loyalty, experience, and success lead to Maximus' appointment as "General of the West" by the Roman emperor, the ambition of a lifetime. But with the title comes a caveat: Maximus needs to muster and command a single legion to defend the perilous Rhine frontier.
On the opposite side of the Rhine River, tribal nations are uniting; hundreds of thousands mass in preparation for the conquest of Gaul, and from there, a sweep down into Rome itself. Only a wide river and a wily general keep them in check.
With discipline, deception, persuasion, and surprise, Maximus holds the line against an increasingly desperate and innumerable foe. Friends, allies, and even enemies urge Maximus to proclaim himself emperor. He refuses, bound by an oath of duty, honor, and sacrifice to Rome, a city he has never seen. But then circumstance intervenes. Now, Maximus will accept the purple robe of emperor, if his scrappy legion can deliver this last crucial victory against insurmountable odds. The very fate of Rome hangs in the balance.
Combining the brilliantly realized battle action of Gates of Fire and the masterful characterization of Mary Renault's "The Last of the Wine, Eagle in the Snow" is nothing less than the novel of the fall of the Roman empire.

Review:
This ambitious novel seeks to illustrate nothing less than the collapse of the Roman Empire through the eyes of one man, Paulinus Gaius Maximus. Growing up in Deva (Chester), Maximus has known only army life from childhood. Rising through the ranks he finds himself patrolling 'the worn grey stones' of the Northern Wall as Commandant. After quiet years on the Wall, barbarians threatening to overrun it constantly harass his troops. Maximus is forced to consider the unthinkable - the possibility that the civilized world could be destroyed. Soldiers manning the forts are deserting, like his cousin Julian who years earlier turned traitor against the state. Promoted to General and commanded to travel overseas to defend another border, the River Rhine, Maximus and his trusted lieutenant attempt to stem the advance of some hundred thousand tribesmen. Still bruised from the Picts and Scots, he is now almost overwhelmed by Vandals, Huns and Goths. Once glorious capitals are filled with signs of decay, Christianity is making inroads on the temples of the Roman Gods and the people he is trying to defend are mutinous. Maximus can no longer refuse to admit that the Roman Empire is breaking up. First published in 1970, this is a magnificent panorama of a splintering civilization, centred around the 'fierce, hard, ungenerous and incorruptible' figure of Maximus. Dramatic, elegiac and deeply moving, its reissue is longer overdue. (Kirkus UK)



Bryn Hammond (BrynHammond) | 1505 comments Mine came. Red cover as above: I have to say it's a funny facial expression close-up. Still like that cover, though the book is cheapo.

Steven Pressfield says on the back: "Wallace Breem belongs to that very short list of writers whose work elevates historical fiction and sets it alongside the best writing of any kind, in any period."

That's what I want. That's what I'm led to expect, now.


message 3: by Terri, Wyrd bið ful aræd (new) - added it

Terri | 18746 comments Big wraps!
I plan on buying mine in the next couple days.


message 4: by Terri, Wyrd bið ful aræd (new) - added it

Terri | 18746 comments Dawn will be reading this one with us in November.
I'll start the other group read Outlaw while Dawn starts with you guys on Eagle in the Snow, then I'll move onto Eagle after Outlaw.


Dawn (CaveatLector) | 5107 comments And I haven't requested mine yet, I don't want it to come in too soon.


Tasha Not sure which one I will start with...hmmm


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Terri | 18746 comments Decisions, decisions. :)


message 8: by Terri, Wyrd bið ful aræd (last edited Oct 23, 2012 07:22PM) (new) - added it

Terri | 18746 comments I was going to buy Eagle in the Snow, but after a budget restraints decision...I have instead asked my library to buy it in. This means (if they agree) that I won't get the book until end of November or early December.
So you guys will be on your own with Dawn (keep fingernails clean and hair neat as she can be strict about that sort of thing) and I will come late to the party. very late no doubt. December late.


Bobby (bobbej) | 1285 comments Having trouble here at my library as well...may have to *gulp* Kindle it. Hope Terri doesn't read this!!


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Terri | 18746 comments Oh that's alright. :-) I don't hate eReaders. I just hate to eRead.


Tasha My library definitely has it so I'll read it sometime during the month, not sure yet when.


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Terri | 18746 comments I have added a nice short little video to the roup's videos to coincide with this read.
Should help readers unfamiliar with the Roman frontier in Germany, acquaint themselves.
http://www.goodreads.com/videos/32408...


message 13: by Dawn (new) - rated it 5 stars

Dawn (CaveatLector) | 5107 comments My copy came in at the library, it's a 1970 edition Eagle in the Snow by Wallace Breem. I'll be reading it the first week of November.


message 14: by Bryn (new) - rated it 2 stars

Bryn Hammond (BrynHammond) | 1505 comments I can't wait to start. But I'll try.


message 15: by Terri, Wyrd bið ful aræd (new) - added it

Terri | 18746 comments Dawn wrote: "My copy came in at the library, it's a 1970 edition Eagle in the Snow by Wallace Breem. I'll be reading it the first week of November."

Lol! That's a fairly unfortunate cover you got yourself there!


message 16: by Terri, Wyrd bið ful aræd (new) - added it

Terri | 18746 comments Bryn wrote: "I can't wait to start. But I'll try."


I HAVE to wait. Hehe. :-)


message 17: by Dawn (new) - rated it 5 stars

Dawn (CaveatLector) | 5107 comments Not the cover I was expecting at all, the new ones are way better. :)


Tasha Wow, that is quite some cover!


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Terri | 18746 comments *snort* :D


message 20: by Anne (new) - added it

Anne (Spartandax) | 797 comments Hi Terri-I hope you don't mind if I read The Scourge of God insted of this book. My library has it, and I am very interested in it, and it does not have "Eagle."


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Terri | 18746 comments Of course! And please keep us updated. I am very interested in that one too.


Sherry | 110 comments Too bad you won't get your copy of Eagle in the Snow for a while, Terri. I was kind of embarrassed to discover that I bought it some time ago (like several years!) and never got around to reading it. The era is somewhat later than my preferred period of first century BC/AD, but this looks like the perfect opportunity to dive into it.


message 23: by Terri, Wyrd bið ful aræd (new) - added it

Terri | 18746 comments Don't be ashamed. I have many of these ones hiding on my shelves..(books I bought several years ago and still have not gotten to). :)


message 24: by Catherine (new)

Catherine Howat | 1 comments I first read this many years ago as a new title! I loved it then and will be buying it for Kindle when it is reissued in December this year. I did not know about the movie though. I highly reccomened this book to anyone interested in thus very inter4esting perio9 d of Roman history


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Terri | 18746 comments Hi Catherine,
Thanks for the feedback. I am disappointed that I probably won't get it in time for the group read, but I look forward to reading it when it comes in at the library.

After some asking around (asking people who have read the book recently) it appears that there are no similarities to the movie Gladiator, which is odd, as the book blurb says it was the inspiration for that movie.
From what they can tell, it may be more a prequel to the Gladiator story in the movie.


Jarrod Dunham (TheHistoryphile) | 65 comments I picked up a copy from the library today; I'm looking forward to starting it on Thursday.


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Terri | 18746 comments Hi Jarrod,
Which cover did your Eagle in the Snow have? I hope you got one of the nice new ones.


Jarrod Dunham (TheHistoryphile) | 65 comments Mine has the new cover with the slightly stoned looking vexillifer.


message 29: by Terri, Wyrd bið ful aræd (new) - added it

Terri | 18746 comments I think he might be more than slightly stoned. :D
If not stoned, than certainly in pain.


message 30: by Lilian (new)

Lilian Gafni (LilianGafniAuthor) | 4 comments I purchased a used 2003, hard cover, copy of Eagle in the Snow by Wallace Breem. The book jacket is in mint condition. Can't wait to read it!


message 31: by Terri, Wyrd bið ful aræd (new) - added it

Terri | 18746 comments Hope you enjoy it Lilian!


message 32: by Dawn (new) - rated it 5 stars

Dawn (CaveatLector) | 5107 comments I stayed up far to late last night to fit in the first chapter of this book but it was very promising. :)


message 33: by Bryn (new) - rated it 2 stars

Bryn Hammond (BrynHammond) | 1505 comments I'm in, I'm up to VI.


Sherry | 110 comments Read to page 70 tonight. Breem's writing is very minimalist -- a style chosen to befit Maximus as a no-nonsense military man?

Since this purports to be Max's autobiography it makes sense for his earlier life to be covered, but I wonder how necessary it is to the story. We'll see.


message 35: by Dawn (new) - rated it 5 stars

Dawn (CaveatLector) | 5107 comments My sister informs me that the writing style is stilted and she hates it but I am really enjoying it. Reminds me of some of my favorite fantasy/SF books actually.

I'm only at page 50 and I have to say that I'm impatiently waiting for the 'real' story to start.


Bobby (bobbej) | 1285 comments Dawn wrote: "I stayed up far to late last night to fit in the first chapter of this book but it was very promising. :)"

Uh oh...that means you started it in OCTOBER!!! Big fine from Terri for that faux pas. LOL


message 37: by Bryn (new) - rated it 2 stars

Bryn Hammond (BrynHammond) | 1505 comments I liked that we had tragedy straight away, but then I began to wonder whether it's a little contrived? The style's fine by me. It is funny that he's gray-haired by page fifty, but we've had his whole life, quickly.


message 38: by Dawn (new) - rated it 5 stars

Dawn (CaveatLector) | 5107 comments We were allowed to use Aussie time.......so I was in the clear. :)


message 39: by Terri, Wyrd bið ful aræd (new) - added it

Terri | 18746 comments It's true. LOL!! I won't guilt anyone for starting a day early, because, just like Happy Hour, it is the right time somewhere in the world and that somewhere is here.


message 40: by Terri, Wyrd bið ful aræd (new) - added it

Terri | 18746 comments The writing is one of the things that has put me off this book. I read an excerpt last year and was surprised that the writing did not match the reputation that the book has. I imagine at some stage the story must get good and over come the simplistic writing.


Bobby (bobbej) | 1285 comments Alright....I bow to the boss!! I'm probably just pissed because I forgot to bring it on my trip!! (written while enjoying sour grapes!!)


message 42: by Terri, Wyrd bið ful aræd (new) - added it

Terri | 18746 comments Oh darn. You forgot to take it with you to the Bahamas? What were you thinking!
have you got Outlaw with you?


message 43: by Bryn (new) - rated it 2 stars

Bryn Hammond (BrynHammond) | 1505 comments It is very simply told so far, but I figure when he gets into the juicy plot we'll have more injected into the writing, more substance?


message 44: by Terri, Wyrd bið ful aræd (new) - added it

Terri | 18746 comments Fingers crossed for you guys that it gets really good. :)


message 45: by Bryn (last edited Nov 02, 2012 04:08AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Bryn Hammond (BrynHammond) | 1505 comments p. 100 tonight. Can't say it's living up to the advertising, yet. Might be a slow boil.


message 46: by Terri, Wyrd bið ful aræd (new) - added it

Terri | 18746 comments Well this is very interesting....it is what I suspected last year when I read that excerpt...but then this year I have seen so many people raving about it that I thought I needed to have another look.


message 47: by Bryn (new) - rated it 2 stars

Bryn Hammond (BrynHammond) | 1505 comments I like it, Terri. Nothing bad about it, but it's got that huge rap and I did expect Great Things.


message 48: by Bryn (new) - rated it 2 stars

Bryn Hammond (BrynHammond) | 1505 comments What I was thinking: these details, Roman life in decay, reminded me of when I chewed through a fair hunk of Gibbon's Decline and Fall. Except Gibbon has those famous cadences to his sentences that make him gorgeous to read. This stretch has been like lightly-fictionalised Gibbon to me.


message 49: by Bryn (new) - rated it 2 stars

Bryn Hammond (BrynHammond) | 1505 comments Negativity alert. - I often hate to hear too much negative on a book I haven't had a chance to see whether I can enjoy yet.

p. 150. Failing to get what's so great about this. And by now, the simplicity of telling seems like a book you can set in school and have them learn the fun way - we had The Eagle of the Ninth. Struggling for three stars. But I believe there's a wham-ding battle at the end and you're meant to cry. I cry easily.


message 50: by Terri, Wyrd bið ful aræd (new) - added it

Terri | 18746 comments Here's hoping the ending will pick it up for you! :D


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