Eagle and Empire (Clash of Eagles #3)
by Alan Smale
Cover Artist: Larry Rostant
Review by Bill Lawhorn
Del Rey Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780804177269
Date: 16 May 2017 List Price $30.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK
The final battle between Caesar of Rome and the forces of the Great Mongol Kahn is approaching in the West of Hesperia. In order to be ready, the Emperor and the Cahokia must find new allies. An embassy to reach another people will lead to both knowledge and tragedy. Victory in one battle may not be the end because convenient allies sometimes become new enemies.
Marcellinus has helped the Cahokia advance rapidly. For some the advances are too fast, the changes too great. Even with all the knowledge and connections he has shared, he is not completely trusted by either ally. He struggles to help the people he has come to love, but his efforts may not be enough. Fortunately, his influence has prepared the people for the future.
Revealed recently, the threat of the Mongols does not seem as pressing as the threat of Rome at their doorstep. The unification of the People of Hesperia continues, but there is news of the Mongols. The Mongols have new weapons as well which may offset the knowledge and advantage of flight.
The foes move towards each other. The battle for the fate of the world will come to this corner of the world. The fate of many people decided by the decisions and abilities of a relative few people. In war, plans rarely survive first contact. The ability to adapt often decides the outcome, the battles on the plains of this alternate universe are no different.
This is the concluding volume of the Clash of the Eagles Trilogy. As a later volume in an ongoing series, it is not the best entry point. The series looks closely at a world in which Rome never fell and the native people of the New World have the ability to fly. The flight advantage creates some equality between the people of the new and old worlds.
Marcellinus is a man who has seen a lot of battle and death. He came to this new land partially because he was becoming unanchored from his land. His loss in battle led to a renewal and purpose. If he survives, he wants the chance to create a better world for his new people as well as those he left behind.
In the first volume, I struggled a bit with the tech issues, by this the final volume I was past my internal issues and could just enjoy the ride. The end, doesn't have to be the end, but it does conclude this tale neatly. Author Smale did a nice job in each volume of providing a complete story, beginning, middle, and conclusion in each volume. Sometimes, in a series, the individual story gets subsumed to the arc. This is not the case here.
Fans of alternate history, historical fiction, and gearing up stories will find something to enjoy here. The battles play out on a large scale, but the limits of knowledge are shared with the reader. In ancient battles, lack of knowledge had to be overcome with flexibility and initiative or great training and preparation.
I would like to see a few short stories set in this universe which develop other parts of the world and explore the challenges which will need to be faced by the survivors.