Around six years ago Lisa and I stayed at a bed and breakfast a few hours outside of Milwaukee, and on the morning of our departure we wandered the streets of the town and, being me, we would up inside a bookstore. While I was there I bought "Empire of the Eagle" by Andre Norton and Susan Schwartz. I am happy to report I finally crossed it off my TBR (to be read) list.
I loved it.
The novel traces the fate of Quintus, a Roman tribune whose family was evicted from their estate in disgrace, a man who still seeks to regain the family honor and reclaim their land. It is not to be. The Romans are horribly defeated at the battle of Carrhae, and their Eagle standards taken as trophies for their enemies. Quintus and his men are purchased as slaves to be given to the Chinese emperor thousands of miles to the East. Along the way disaster and misfortune strike the group, and in those dark hours the survivors learn what it means to be Roman - and what it means to follow the Eagle.
That's the 'straight' part of the novel. There's also a significant supernatural element, involving Roman and Hindu lore. At first that turned me off, and led me to put the book aside a few years ago. This time I felt the realistic and fantastical plots melded perfectly, with neither overshadowing the other. It works.
I really enjoyed this book. I grade it an A.
Book #47 of the year