Scarrow, Simon 1962-
Scarrow, Simon 1962-
Born 1962, in Nigeria; son of a banker; married; children: two sons. Education: University of East Anglia, B.A., 1992. Hobbies and other interests: Soccer.
Agent—Meg Davis, MBA Literary Agents, Inc., 62 Grafton Way, London W1T 5DW, England. E-mail—[email protected]
Novelist and educator. Formerly worked in Inland Revenue. Teacher of English and media studies at Norwich, England high school, 1992-94; East Norfolk College, Norfolk, England, head of media studies, 1994-2000; City College, Norwich, lecturer in media studies, 2000—.
Under the Eagle, Headline (London, England), 2000, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 2001.
The Eagle's Conquest, Headline (London, England), 2001, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 2002.
When the Eagle Hunts, Headline (London, England), 2002, Thomas Dunne (New York, NY), 2004.
The Eagle and the Wolves, Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 2004.
The Eagle's Prey, Thomas Dunne Books (New York, NY), 2005.
The Eagle's Prophecy, Thomas Dunne Books (New York, NY), 2006.
The Eagle in the Sand, Headline (London, England), 2006.
Young Bloods (Volume One of the "Revolution" series), Headline (London, England), 2006.
Contributor to Times Educational Supplement. Also author of plays, short stories, and poems.
Simon Scarrow has been a history buff since childhood, but it was not until after graduating from the University of East Anglia and beginning a teaching career that he found his second calling as an author of historical fiction. With his creation of Quintus Licinius Cato in novels that include Under the Eagle and The Eagle's Prophecy, Scarrow draws readers back to the majestic days of Imperial Rome and Rome's efforts to conquer the island of Britain. In the process he creates what Booklist contributor Margaret Flanagan praised as a "meticulously detailed portrayal of life in the mighty Roman army."
An inspiring Latin teacher Scarrow encountered during his preparatory-school years first whetted the young student's appetite for ancient history, which he fed by reading the Illiad and Odyssey as well as tales of Greek and Roman warriors. As Scarrow continued his studies in Latin, his knowledge of Roman culture and politics grew, and quasi-historical films such as Cleopatra starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton only fueled this interest. Reading author Bernard Cornwell's popular "Richard Sharpe" series about the Napoleonic wars sparked in Scarrow the idea that he could translate his own interest in the Roman Legion into the same sort of fiction. In between his teaching duties at an East Norfolk school, Scarrow set to work and in 1998 completed the first draft of what would become the novel Under the Eagle.
In Under the Eagle readers meet Cato, a former palace slave who is forced into the Roman Second Legion and sent to battle the Germanic tribes standing in the way of Rome's expansion into northern Europe. Due to his skill and intelligence, Cato earns the respect of his commander, Centurion Lucius Cornelius Macro, a character modeled on Cornwell's Richard Sharpe in that he is an uneducated man who has risen from the ranks due to his bravery and savvy. Cato teaches Macro to read, and in thanks the centurion grants the young man his freedom. When the Second Legion are posted to Britain in the year 42, Cato decides to join Macro as his optio, or protegé. On the island of Britain the pair find more than just disgruntled islanders awaiting them after they uncover the whereabouts of a chest of gold that has been hidden in a British bog for over a century.
The second installment in Scarrow's "Eagle" series, The Eagle's Conquest finds Cato assisting Centurion Macro in subduing a band of unruly Celts who refuse to submit to Roman rule and continue to agitate under their wily leader Caratacus. Meanwhile, Macro's position is threatened by a jealous tribune named Vitellius, who also has plans to assassinate Macro's commander in his quest for personal power. The plot thickens when Macro and Cato uncover yet another plot: this one to kill the Emperor of all Rome, who arrives in Britain to lay claim to his new territory. Noting that the novel's "battle scenes are lifeless and generic" due to Scarrow's lack of attention to character development, a PublishersWeekly contributor nonetheless praised the author for "deftly negotiat[ing the] tricky, labyrinthian story line" that encompasses the novel's second half. Noting that the complex plot translates into "politics as usual for the Roman Empire," a Kirkus Reviews critic praised The Eagle's Conquest as "good, clean, intelligent fun," while Flanagan proclaimed it an "exhilarating tale" that provides readers with "all the glory and the gore that characterized life in the Roman legions."
Set during the harsh winter of 44 A.D., When the Eagle Hunts follows Macro and Cato as they attempt to rescue the wife and children of General Plautius, who have been taken hostage by the fearsome and bloodthirsty Druids of the Dark Moon. Unless the Romans meet their demands—the release of their own captured warriors—the Druids threaten to burn their captives alive. Scarrow's third novel "is cloaked in action, suspense, and history," wrote Booklist critic Margaret Flanagan. In The Eagle and the Wolves, Macro and Cato must protect aging ruler Verica when the Atrebatans begin to revolt. With a fighting force composed of raw recruits, the centurion comrades prepare to do battle with a cunning enemy.
The Legion prepares for an epic final battle against Caratacus in The Eagle's Prey. Under the watchful eye of Narcissus, the assistant to Emperor Claudius, General Plautius outlines his strategy to lure the barbarians into a trap. When the plan fails, blame falls on Cato, who is sentenced to death for his error, and Macro, who is relieved of his command. "Scarrow's combat is brutal and sanguinary; his imperial politics are almost as sharp," remarked a Publishers Weekly reviewer. According to a critic in Kirkus Reviews, the work "deftly balances gritty action with complex battle strategy and ancient historical detail." Macro and Cato are dispatched to recover a set of ancient scrolls stolen by the ruthless Greek pirate Telemachus in The Eagle's Prophecy, "a combustible concoction of intrigue, treachery and violence," remarked a Publishers Weekly contributor. The pair takes to the seas under the command of Vitellius, an old adversary who plans to seize the Delphic scrolls for himself. "Scarrow again provides a vivid sense of history and several believable scenes of maritime action, and his righteous but flawed protagonists are winning heroes," a critic in Kirkus Reviews remarked.
In an interview posted on his Web site, Scarrow discussed his career as an author and his interest in the historical fiction genre. Historical fiction is his literary medium of choice, explained Scarrow, "because I love the way in which it allows for a reader to have an imaginative vacation from the here and now…. I'm a great reader of history books, and am frustrated by the way good historians can create an exciting tale, but have to be faithful to historical method. Historical fiction, by comparison, is allowed to creatively fill in the gaps left by the historical facts, and that's what makes the world of historical fiction so very tangible."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, August, 2001, Margaret Flanagan, review of Under the Eagle, p. 2091; November 1, 2002, Margaret Flanagan, review of The Eagle's Conquest, p. 474; January 1, 2004, Margaret Flanagan, review of When the Eagle Hunts, p. 827.
Kirkus Reviews, July 1, 2001, review of Under the Eagle, pp. 896-897; September 15, 2002, review of The Eagle's Conquest, p. 1342; November 15, 2003, review of When the Eagle Hunts, p. 1337; August 1, 2005, review of The Eagle's Prey, p. 811; October 1, 2006, review of The Eagle's Prophecy, p. 985.
Publishers Weekly, October 28, 2002, review of The Eagle's Conquest, p. 47; January 26, 2004, review of When the Eagle Hunts, p. 231; August 29, 2005, review of The Eagle's Prey, p. 31; September 4, 2006, review of The Eagle's Prophecy, p. 37.
Times Educational Supplement, August 3, 2001, Harvey McGavin, interview with Simon Scarrow, p. 24.
FantasyBooksCentral.com,http://www.fantasybookscentral.com/ (January 29, 2003), review of The Eagle's Conquest.
Simon Scarrow Web site,http://www.scarrow.co.uk (June 1, 2007).