Thursday, 24 June 2010

HISTORICAL FICTION: The Forgotten Legion - Ben Kane


Romulus and Fabiola are twins, born into slavery after their mother is raped by a drunken nobleman on his way home from a good night out. At 13 years old, they and their mother are sold: Romulus to gladiator school, Fabiola into prostitution, where she will catch the eye of one of the most powerful men in Rome, and their mother into obscurity and death in the salt mines. Tarquinius is an Etruscan, a warrior and soothsayer, born enemy of Rome, but doomed to fight for the Republic in the Forgotten Legion. Brennus is a Gaul; the Romans killed his entire family. He rises to become one of the most famous and feared gladiators of his day - and mentor to the boy slave, Romulus, who dreams night and day of escape and of revenge. The lives of these four characters are bound and interwoven in a marvellous story which begins in a Rome riven by corruption, violence and political enmities, but ends far away, where Romulus, Brennus and Tarquinius find themselves fighting against the Parthians and overwhelming odds.


With a great many titles in the Historical Fiction genre being set within the Roman era, an author has to come up with something very special to stand out from the others. What Ben has done with this offering is take a different approach by utilising an interesting snippet from history of the possibility of a Roman Unit within China. Its interesting, its got some controversy but above all the author has cleverly considered what difference this ancient war machine would make to an Army from the East.

The characters were reasonable, the plot outline not only fascinating but intriguing and brought together with some descent combat sequences. It’s a title that will either have a great many readers loving or loathing but its definitely a title that stands out and will, above all else find the readers staying up late to read the next chapter. Which is a great way to keep the author’s characters and arc in mind. I’ll eagerly await the second offering.

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