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The amount of research that has gone into this truly excellent novel is truly ming-boggling. This tale of adventure and intrigue may well be set in Ancient Rome but the story is thoroughly modern in the way that it is told. Hughes has a unique way of describing even the most minor of details and has the accomplished touch of a seasoned writer. A real writer.
Even the though the genre is not a particular favourite of mine I was won over. I can't recommend this book highly enough.
Spend some time in Ancient Rome, solving mystery upon mystery as a British Celtic woman raised a Roman tries to clear the name of Titus, the Roman tribune who is her husband. Got that? "Sign of the Eagle" is a crime thriller, a police procedural, and a correct historical with all the vocabulary and scholarship necessary, rolled into one delicious package. Threats and plots reach all the way up from the garden villa of our heroine, Macha, to the court of the Roman Emperor Vespasian.
Macha's husband Titus is a professional cavalry soldier. When Titus is accused of treason, Macha's adventure goes into high gear, with everything she loves at stake.
Rather than ruin the story for you, I'll not dwell on the plot beyond saying it has turns and twists enough for any modern reader. This book also has the feel of its period: every detail is correct, from swords and cavalry tack to combs and pins for our Celtic heroine's red hair. Don't mistake me: this novel is neither bodice ripper nor dissertation, but a full blown novel of ancient Rome that at times reminded me of Ecco's "Name of the Rose." Want to let that sink in? Yes, this is a real historical novel, not a romance in ancient clothing nor a gamer's how-to book. Good novels are rare, good historical novels even rarer.
Buy this book and read it. Buy a couple to give your more literate friends for Christmas. I bought the trade paper and its production values are excellent; the print is easy to read, the prose crisp and as sharp and clear as you'd expect from an author such as Jess Hughes, who has been a police detective and Marine Corps veteran. Hughes knows war and intrigue and human failings firsthand. What Hughes has learned in life informs this novel with his expertise in treachery, in war, and in crime, lending this story great substance without ever being wordy or awkward. Men will be as diverted as women by this novel, part action-adventure, part suspenseful thriller, and part a ticket to another place and time.
"Sign of the Eagle" is satisfyingly complete in itself, yet also forms the first half of Hughes' duology set in the 1st century AD. The next book by Jess Steven Hughes, one hopes, is coming soon.
Imperial Rome, starting with the first emperor Augustus, spanned about 500 years, and was ruled by approximately 65 emperors (depending how you count usurpers, upstarts, and self-proclaimed tyrants). So the average tenure of a Roman emperor was a little less than 8 years, and few of them died of natural causes. The Sign of the Eagle is set in the early reign of Vespasian, who took the throne during the chaotic year of four emperors (69 A.D.). This was an era of barbarian invasions, sinister political plots, and military unrest when any given general stationed in the provinces could declare himself emperor and advance with his army upon Rome on any particular day. This is the backdrop of the Sign of the Eagle, a fast-paced and extremely enjoyable historical novel. Protagonist Macha, the daughter of a Celtic king, is married to Roman tribune Titus. She is told by an envoy that her husband has been arrested for treason, and is part of a conspiracy to overthrow Vespasian. Macha does not take this news sitting down, plunging into a suspenseful mission to discover the truth and exonerate her husband. The bodies of people who know too much are falling all around her, but this does not deter the dedicated and courageous Macha from her single minded pursuit ,that will free her husband and save the emperor. I am particularly impressed by the verisimilitude that the author achieves. It is clear that he has done his research and is very familiar not only with historical facts and places, but with the beliefs, habits and everyday life of citizens of every strata of Roman society. This was a very enjoyable and informative novel, and I look forward to upcoming works of historical fiction by Jess Steven Hughes..
The Sign of the Eagle is enveloped in mystery, intrigue and history as Jess takes you into the wicked world of the Middle East in the first century A.D.
Macha cannot know who she can trust to aid her in winning her husband's freedom after a shocking arrest by top officials. Set in the first century Jess brings you right into the midst of the filth and despair of life at that time. Rome is filled with untrustworthy friends and foes who nearly take Macha's life in her search for clues to release Titus, her husband of seven years. I thoroughly enjoyed the descriptive setting which took me back in a time machine, more or less. Great job Jess! Looking forward to the follow up novel.
If you are a fan of historical novels, especially those set in the times of the Roman Empire, this will be a great book for you. You'll soon find yourself in Roman times with the protagonist, Macha, a strong woman whose husband Titus has been taken prisoner and charged with treason.
Jess Steven Hughes takes us on a journey full of intrigue, action, loyalty and love as Macha travels to find her husband, and have him freed. During the journey, we meet her loyal servant Shafer and Senator Bassius who assist Macha in her difficult and dangerous adventure. Very early in the story, we meet young Titus, Macha's son who is kidnapped adding torment and more determination for Macha to succeed in her quest for justice.
Readers will enjoy the descriptions of Roman times, the houses, the streets, the sounds and smells of Roman life. I also thoroughly enjoyed the descriptions of the dress of the characters, especially Macha's clothing, jewelry and the detailed descriptions of the military armor and uniforms.
I highly recommend this book, you'll be eager to read it from beginning to end.
What a great historical mystery novel set in Roma Italy AD 71. I haven't studied much about this era, but the smooth way he slides in historical details. I could follow along easy. The characters were so well written and real. I could visualize them in today's world. Macha, a wife of a High Ranking Roman Citizen, found her world changed and turned upside down when news reached her that her husband had been arrested. Through her eyes, the reader follows her as she struggles to free her husband and untangle a few mysteries. Jess Steven Hughes is an amazing storyteller and writer. His historical knowledge is flawless. I have learned so much about AD71. I highly recommend this book and Author. Enjoy!
This author does a great job with this historical depiction of a woman in Ancient Rome fighting to free her husband from certain death. Always an advocate of strong women throughout history, I thoroughly enjoyed following Macha's heart wrenching journey to prove his innocence. In 71 A.D women had few rights or advantages, but the main character rallied over the odds. I particularly loved the author's ability with description. It brought the novel to life as you picture exactly where they are and their surroundings. I like a story to draw me in and this one certainly did.
I thoroughly enjoyed The Sign of the Eagle. I felt the story was great, and I especially liked Mr. Hughes' descriptions. He has a knack of using phrases that are out of the norm. In addition, though I am not a Roman history buff, I felt his knowledge of the subject is quite complete. I am much better educated after reading it, and the book expands my understanding of the age.
I've always enjoyed books with strong female characters, especially in historical fiction. This book took me on an exciting journey and plunged into the adventure quickly, which makes it appealing for teen readers as well. A little perk for me is I learned quite a bit about Roman history!