Eagle in the Snow

By Wallace Breem,

Book cover of Eagle in the Snow

Book description

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

'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…

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Why read it?

4 authors picked Eagle in the Snow as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

For writers of historical fiction, Eagle in the Snow has attained almost mythical status. First published fifty years ago, the book is still in print mainly through the enthusiastic recommendation of readers. Wallace Breem wrote only two other works and died in 1990, so there will be nothing more from his pen. It adds piquancy to the themes of the story: it’s a tale of the passing of things and the dying of an empire. It’s the tale of a man struggling against the fading of the light, even though he knows the struggle is hopeless. It’s a story of…

A Roman general makes his last stand against invading barbarians on the Rhine frontier. A classic in every sense of the word, Eagle in the Snow is in some ways a model for much of the serious historical fiction that followed its publication in 1970: deeply researched yet light-of-touch with arcane detail, action-packed yet always allowing character and emotion to take the foreground and guide the action. Paulinus Gaius Maximus has more than just the Germans to battle against: a pagan in a time of ascendant Christianity, a man of duty in a time of cowardice and self-dealing, thoughtful and…

Eagle in the Snow has picked up a lot of new readers in the last couple of decades, partly I think as it was rumoured to be one of the inspirations for the film Gladiator, but it’s a great read and well deserves its classic status. The story begins in northern Britain, with the empire in its dying days, but the scene soon shifts to the Rhine frontier of Germania. General Maximus is an old soldier sent to hold the line against the advancing barbarian hordes, but in the freezing winter of AD406 he faces insurmountable odds as the frontier…

Another work of fiction which had a powerful impact on me when I first read it. Written with such assurance, the Roman world seems to come to life in this dramatic story of the fall of the western Empire. The principal character is a man to whom honour and duty are the most important things in his life, compelling him to do his duty despite insurmountable odds.

From Gordon's list on Roman history.

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