Bane of Eagles is an alternate history novelization of the life of Arminius, the Germanic tribal leader who rose through the Roman ranks, betrayed Rome, and massacred three legions in the Teutoburg forest.
There are some light touches of fantastical elements, and there are of course colorful embellishments, both romantic and savage, in the telling of the story. The major “alternate” in this alternate history is that a vast conspiracy with which the druids are involved were responsible for assassinating Claudius as a youth; Germanicus is not poisoned and ends up becoming Tiberius’ successor—he is determined to avenge the losses from Augustus’ day and hound Arminius to the ends of the earth in a book that’s part sword & sandal adventure and part political thriller.
This is a bloody and brutal read, not for the faint of heart—while written largely from the pagan Germanics’ perspective, there are not “good guys,” though there are plenty of bad guys. In many ways, Arminius is a monster, though he’s a human and almost sympathetic monster. Rome itself is shown no better, in some cases worse. I’m sure that both Roman trad bros and Germanic trad bros would find stuff to be mad about, but with no dog in the Pagan vs. Pagan fight, I’m content to be entertained and watch them duke it out, cut each other’s heads off and sacrifice each other to their heathen gods.
It’s an incredibly exciting and fast paced telling with a lot to love, especially if you’re a history buff. It’s obvious that Cole has put a tremendous amount of research into this book. Worth checking out if you’re a fan of historical fiction, alternate history, and sword & sorcery.
Five Stars easy.
Disclaimer: Dave Ritzlin sent us an ARC for review and Adrian Cole is a regular contributor to Cirsova Magazine. His latest New Dream Lords story will be appearing in 2023.