Legions of the Eagle by Henry Treece – the 1954 Club

 A Summer of Drowning cover

Legions of the Eagle by Henry Treece was aimed at young teenagers, but it can probably be enjoyed by people of all ages who have an interest in a Roman Britain setting. If you enjoy Rosemary Sutcliffe’s Roman books you’ll probably like this one too, I would say she’s the better writer though, and I’m not at all sure about all of the historical ‘facts’ although apparently an elephant was employed in the Roman invasion of Britain – which was news to me!

The book is written in three parts and the first part begins in AD 43 with Gwydion who is the thirteen year old son of Lord Caswallawn who rides at the right hand of King Caratacus, of the Belgae tribe. Gwydion’s best friend is Math who is a slave and is very much aware of his status in life although Gwydion doesn’t seem to understand how that makes Math feel at times. But it isn’t long before Gwydion is himself taken prisoner by the invading Romans and becomes a slave himself, sent to Rome to be the companion of a high ranking Roman’s son. Math managed to escape the Romans, so their situations are completely reversed.

The moral of the tale is I suppose that it doesn’t matter which tribe you belong to, what you look like or what your status is in life. The important things are family, loyalty and friendship.

I think this will be the last book that I read for the 1954 Club. It’s just typical that for almost the entire week I haven’t even been online as we were down in the north-east of England – visiting Roman camps!