Hello everyone, and welcome to 111 Archer Avenue. What started as a film review blog has become my online judgment forum. I will review the occasional movie or DVD, post an interesting trailer, critique a newly-read book, talk about sports, and share my thoughts and opinions on random issues. You can also follow me on Twitter (@OlieCoen) or check out my work on DVDTalk.com. Thank you and enjoy!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Book Review - Give Me Back My Legions!

Author: Harry Turtledove
Year: 2009

I should have known.  I mean, come on, there's an exclamation mark in the title. But when I heard "historical fiction" and I saw the cool cover I thought I would enjoy it.  I have a strong interest in history, especially Roman/Greek/European history, and I was excited to read a fictional account of real battles, real people, and real history.  Well, I got what I asked for.  But I guess I forgot to ask for it to be written well, to remain interesting, and to, basically, not be the worst book ever.  I know it seems like a lot to ask, but shouldn't published novels be readable?

Give Me Back My Legions! is the story of the Roman occupation of Germania (Germany) in 9 AD.  After having conquered Gaul (France), the Roman legions, under the command of Quinctilius Varus, turn their attention to the colonization of the land east of the Rhine.  Although slowly developing a foothold in the area and seeming to make peace with many Germanic tribes, the Romans were not as secure as they imagined.  A local chieftain named Arminius roused the anger of the Germanic peoples and gathered together an army with the goal of pushing the Romans back over the river forever.  Culminating at the Battle of Teutoburg Forest, the fates of two nations clashed in this epic struggle.

It's bad.  It's very bad.  Imagine a history class in which the professor attempts to make the lesson interesting by using all the historical terms and names in a clever fashion, but fails miserably, and then will not stop trying, but keeps plugging away for hours and hours until your brain feels as if it might melt.  That's how it felt to read this book; thank you, Mr. Turtledove.  Not only was it boring & forced, but it was extremely repetitive, taking chapter after chapter to hammer home each and every point.  I could sum it up for you and save you some time; Varus doesn't like being in Germania, he thinks Arminius is his friend, Arminius hates the Romans, he's plotting to drive them away, there's a battle at the end to decide the matter that you already know the outcome of if you know anything about the Roman Empire.  Don't read this book.  Read the Wikipedia articles of the Battle if you're mildly interested, but please don't waste your time.  I did, and it doesn't feel good.

My rating:


  1. You left out the most important thing. Does he, or does he not, get his legions back?!?!

    1. You'll have to waste a couple weeks slowly forcing yourself to read the book 10 pages at a time to find out.

  2. I'm afraid I'll never know then. I struggled through the beginning of 'The Windup Girl' but I am now interested enough to finish it. The style is a little too clinical for me. Very few scenes have the impact they should based on what is happening, but it is full of cool ideas about a 22nd century Earth that has succumbed to climate change and other man-made problems.