Under the Eagle by Simon Scarrow
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Macro might have been outraged when Cato the new recruit is given the rank of Optio (making him his second in command) by Vespasian due to his patronage by the Emperor Claudius, but Cato soon proves his worth to Centurion Macro.
First he saves Macro's life when Macro is wounded in a German Village on what was suppose to be an "easy" assignment. Then he agrees to teach Macro to read so Macro can keep his rank.
Unfortunately when Cato's eye is turned by the slave girl Lavinia, Flavia (Vespasian's wife) takes full advantage. Using their assignation as a way to set up Vitellius. Luckily Cato escapes undetected and Lavinia names Vitellius as the man she was meeting in the tent.
Because of their bravery in Germany Macro and Cato are sent to escort Narcissus (Emperor Claudius' right hand) to Gaul to help quell the mutinous legions. When they are attacked en route Macro and Cato manage to save Narcissus life and capture the attackers.
Once they reach Britian Macro and Cato receive a mysterious assignment from Vespasian they are to follow a map to a certain location and retrieve a chest that was left there by Caius Julius Caesar 96 years before. Vespasian names them deserters after they leave and leaves strict orders for them to be brought to him immediately if they are spotted. Once they find the chest Vitellius arrives with some men and attempts to take it away from them. They manage to fight Vitellius off and start back to camp. En route they capture Vitellius who informs them the Britons are on their way to attack. They release Vitellius who is supposedly on his way to warn the 2nd. Frightened off by some scouts from the second he flees to the 14th. Macro and Cato hide the wagon with the chest and start back but due to their wounded are making poor time. Macro sends Cato on ahead to warn the 2nd. Thanks to Cato's warning Plinius was able to hold the end of the column long enough for the 14th to rescue them. When the 14th arrives the Britons flee and Macro and his remaining men are able to kill their Chief Togodummus. Officially Vitellius is named a hero. Macro tries to bring charges against him but Vitellius reveals to Vespasian that not only is he the Imperial Spy (trusted by Narcissus) but that Flavia is the traitor he was sent to look for. If Vespasian reveals Vitellius attempts to steal the chest he will name Flavia as the traitor she is.
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