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Clash of Eagles    by Alan Smale order for
Clash of Eagles
by Alan Smale
Order:  USA  Can
Del Rey, 2015 (2015)
Hardcover, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Here's an intriguing alternate history, beginning in Alan Smale's Clash of Eagles. He postulates the survival of the Roman Empire and its thrust to conquer North America. The trilogy opens in 1218 AD, with the 33rd Legion marching in Nova Hesperia (having been transported there by Norse longboats), their lines harried 'by skulking Iroqua warriors.' The legion is commanded by series' lead Gaius Publius Marcellinus.

They survive Iroqua attacks, but seriously underestimate the power and abilities of a great city to the west, Cahokia. Its forces attack from the sky with great skill using gliders. The warriors of Cahokia (including a fierce young woman who had previously come to the legion as an envoy) slaughter the Romans but keep Gaius alive, believing that they can learn from him.

Gradually, he overcomes his grief and grows close to individuals (especially children) in this new culture. He trains fighters in Roman warfare after he realizes that they are threatened by the genocidal Iroqua, whom he believes have no honor. When the Romans inevitably return, Gaius will attempt to make peace. He learns to fight from the skies himself, and shows his new friends how to build and use ballista.

But then the Iroqua attack in force, with Viking longships. New technology is now used by both sides in native wars, making those wars bigger, with higher losses. Cahokia is desecrated and the 'foreign interloper' blamed. And, as this first in the trilogy ends, Gaius learns of gold to the south, 'down the Mizipi'. He fears what will happen when the Romans learn of it. I look forward to finding out.

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