(Cover picture courtesy of 49th Shelf.)
The Eagles’ Brood continues the saga of the Colony known as Camulod, and the tale of the descendants of those brave Romans who forged a new way of life for the Celt and Roman peoples when the Roman legions departed Britain.
Most know the new leader of the Colony as Merlyn; all call him Commander. Cauis Merlyn Britannicus is responsible for their safety, and all look to him for guidance, leadership, justice, and salvation. It is a harsh life but a good community, and Merlyn is dedicated to spreading the influence of Roman culture beyond the Colony’s borders.
Uther Pendragon, the man who will father the legendary Arthur, is the cousin Merlyn has known and loved since they were birthed, four hours apart on the same day, the year the legions left Britain. He is the tireless warrior–the red dragon to Merlyn’s great silver bear–and between the two of them, the Colony knows few enemies.
As different as they can be, they are inseparable: two faces of the same coin. In a world torn apart by warfare and upheaval, each is the other’s certainty and guarantee of the survival of the Colony . . . until a vicious crime, one that strikes at the roots of Merlyn’s life, drives a wedge between them. A wedge that threatens the fate of a nation . . . .
For me, The Eagle’s Brood was such a sad book. I had to say goodbye to some of my favourite characters from the previous two books: Picus, Publius Varrus and Equus. Although Caius Merlyn doesn’t have the flair and sense of humour of Publius Varrus, I really did grow to love him as a narrator.
The characters were great in this. We see everything through Merlyn’s eyes, with all of his judgments and flaws. He’s a good person but not a perfect character and gradually realizes his flaws. He can be more than a little judgmental and arrogant at times, but I love how the perspective is told from his older self looking back on his youth. It brings a little more balance to the equation and I loved Merlyn all the more for it. Uther was an okay character, but we didn’t really get to see much of the good side of him at all. That’s why I feel I need to reread Uther (the standalone Jack Whyte later wrote from Uther’s perspective) to fully understand him better.
The plot wasn’t the most fast-moving at the beginning, but the last few hundred pages went fast. The familiar Arthurian mythology we all know and love is now present almost all of the way through the novel and combined with the other events like the war with Lot, this made for a fast read. If you’re just picking this book up without reading the first two in A Dream of Eagles you won’t appreciate it as much, but each of Jack Whyte’s books can stand on their own.
I can’t and won’t really comment on the historical accuracy of The Eagles’ Brood. Although the main events of the novel are correct: the Romans withdrew from Britain, the Saxons started raiding the shores, tribes squabbled for control while the remaining Romans in the province tried to restore some order. I have a feeling that most of Jack Whyte’s novel is historically accurate because of what I know of ancient Rome as well as how he really sucks you into that period of time. You really do feel like you’re there and that’s something I’ve always admired in him as a writer.
Despite some rather graphic, disturbing scenes I really did enjoy The Eagles’ Brood. I’d highly recommend A Dream of Eagles series to anyone who enjoys the Arthurian legends, with or without magical elements.
I give this book 5/5 stars.