Friday, 20 January 2012

HISTORICAL FICTION REVIEW: Spartacus: The Gladiator - Ben Kane

Release Date: 19/01/11


In historical terms we know very little about Spartacus the man - partly because most contemporary Roman historians were keen to obliterate his memory and prevent him from attaining mythic status. This ofcourse is grist to the novelist's mill. Ben Kane's brilliant novel begins in the Thracian village to which Spartacus has returned, after escaping from life as an auxiliary in the Roman army. But here he quickly falls foul of his overlord, the Thracian king, who has set his heart on Dionysian priestess, Ariadne - later to become wife of Spartacus. Betrayed again to the Romans by his jealous king, Spartacus - and with him Ariadne - are taken in captivity to the school of gladiators at Capua. It is here - against the unbelievable brutality of gladiatorial life - that Spartacus and Crixus the Gaul plan the audacious overthrow of their Roman masters, escaping to Vesuvius, where they recruit and train a huge slave army - an army which will keep the might of Rome at bay for two years and create one of the most extraordinary legends in history. "Spartacus: The Gladiator" takes the story up to the moment when the slave army has inflicted its first great defeat on Rome.


I’ve enjoyed Ben’s writing for quite some time so when I heard he was tackling Spartacus I had to hope that he was bringing something new to the fore especially when most people will be thinking either of Kirk Douglas or the recently deceased Andy Whitfield. Also tricky when theres seems to be a whole host of Spartacus titles out there from other authors for the Young Adult market.

So what has Ben produced? Is it worth the money? And perhaps most importantly, is it any good?

Well to be honest it’s a title that has a realistic feel which isn’t surprising when you consider that the author has done a lot of in depth research and when blended with a feel of David Gemmell’s Connovar (from the first Rigante Book, Sword in the Storm) and the reader is in for a real treat.

Add to this great prose, top notch action and when backed with Ben’s own authorly voice, it’s a story that, in subsequent books, will help bring the rebel to life.


T. James said...

This looks like an interesting read, and a pleasant change; to re-imagine a long-dead hero with less rose tinting on the glasses than is normal in other titles.

Pat Hollett said...

I love the true historical Spartacus instead of glamorizing him. As much as I enjoyed Kirk Douglas or the recently deceased Any Whitfield, I still can't get enough of this story. It can be written hundreds of times or done in movie form and I'd read or watch it anytime. :)