on 5 September 2011
The conclusion of The Forgotten Legion in the guise of Road to Rome bears testimony to the fact that Ben Kane just goes from strength to strength. I'll miss all the characters, but the trilogy is rounded off at a point where Ben feels he can't add any more, and that it's time to move onto something else.
Road to Rome is festooned with scenes that are described so well that you can literally feel the tension. Take for instance the atmosphere around the Lupenar as witnessed by Tarquinius, and when Romulus seizes the opportunity to find Gemellus. (I have to be careful not to describe the scenes too vividly in case I ruin it for anyone else who hasn't read the book).
But on the whole, Road to Rome is yet another product of Ben's experience in this field, again carefully and successfully revolving the plot around historic events as they happened at the time, intertwining especially the circumstances of Romulus and Fabiola with one of history's most talked-about assassinations. I also take my hat off to Ben for his footnotes at the end, admitting to mistakes and what was fabricated for the sake of the course of the novel's development (such as that about the XXVII and XXVIII Legions in Egypt and Africa). However, that does not take away Ben's talents at history as well as writing. After all, name me a writer who doesn't make mistakes!
I really look forward to reading Hannibal Ben, someone I've often read about in my past, and it would be interesting to know what you've got to add to what I know about him already. Keep up the good work, you're doing a good job. Well done.
The latest in the Forgotten Legion Chronicles, and the story of the twins Romulus and Fabiola, and their companions continues. This is well up to the standard set by the first two books, with Ben Kane weaving a tale which covers a vast area, both in terms of geography and topic - everything from Gaul to India and ancient religions to military protocol are included in the series so far, which equals a research project of mind boggling proportions.
You'll probably learn lots, if that takes your fancy, and you'll be well entertained along the way, as the plot takes in the events of the rise of Julius Caesar, and the impact on the main characters, whose own rise from humble beginnings requires only occasional suspension of disbelief. Things rattle along a pace, and the characters are sympathetically drawn - although it must be said that there are some minor characters whose introduction is merely to illustrate some particularly gruesome end!
Beware, however, new readers should NOT start here - you may well enjoy part 3 of the series, but you will definitely miss out on many of the nuances from the earlier books, and the backstory in the early chapters cannot convey those adequately, givent he scope of the story so far. So, read books 1 & 2 (The Forgotten Legion & The Silver Eagle) first then this - which I guess is the authors aim and you won't regret it.
Recommended for lovers of historical fiction, adventure stories and Ancient Rome
Having read the first two books in this series by Ben Kane and enjoyed them both I looked forward to book 3 Road to Rome with great interest.
The Forgotten Legion series centres around twins Romulus and Fabiola, who were birthed by their slave mother who was raped by a mysterious noble-born Roman, the whole series is driven from that one act and the twins pursuit of truth and freedom.
Book three very much revolves around the rape, and how Fabiola plans revenge against who she sees as the rapist, while Romulus battles to survive and come to terms with his past, his actions and his survival whilst others are lost along the way.
Ben continues with his very gritty earthy descriptions of Rome, this is what makes the books seem real amidst the mystical divinations of Tarquinus which sometimes for me stretch credulity beyond what im looking for in a Historical Fiction novel.
This book also revolves around one of the most dramatic incidents in roman history and its conclusion on the Ides of March, and how it blends and merges with the lives of Fabiola and Romulus.
Bens writing for me does not have the pace of Scarrow or Riches, but instead it has its own graceful quality that engages the reader, it also possesses an honesty that many writers don't or can't achieve.
The internal angst and musings of Romulus that Ben creates lends an absolute humanity to the character and the book as a whole that draws you the reader into the Roman world of Fabiola, Romulus & Tarquinus so you feel the pain of each and every action decision, failure and victory as if they were your own. Its a series thats been well worth the money in buying and time in reading.
Ben Kane's next trilogy is due be about Carthage, with a side project of a stand alone book about Spartacus.
I also think we will be revisiting Romulus & Tarquinus again in the future while they journey east again. I for one look forward to every one of those books
on 1 February 2012
The Forgotten Legion series is one of the strongest series set in ancient Rome that has been produced to date. The scope of the series in length of years, geographical reach, depth of character and intertwining some of the most tumultuous and important events in the history of he world with the life story of a small number of fictional characters is phenomenal. As a series, it is sad to reach this point and see it end.
The third and final novel of the series is a complex weave of history and fiction. With all the ability of amaster storyteller, Ben takes us through Caesar's civil war, following the action around the Mediterranean and through some of the most astounding battles seen through the eyes of Romulus, one of the series' two main protagonists. Meanwhile, his sister continues to become embroiled in Roman politics and intrigue as she plots the downfall of one of the most powerful men in history.
The story builds to a stunning climax, taking us through the lead up and into the dreadful events of March, 44BC and intertwining the fictional characters and their motives with the known events in a tight, even seamless knit. The last quarter of the book, in particular, are vivid and all-consuming and I could picture everything as clear as were I watching it on a screen.
I smiled, I sighed. I even shed a little tear. Bravo, Ben.
All in all, a very fitting end to the series. I look forward to Ben's more recent works: Hannibal and Spartacus.
on 1 February 2012
I've deleted my previous comment which ended "Of course, if my above comments are rubbished then, as well as deservedly feeling like an idiot, I will happily apologise and amend this comment and rating.".
Well, I'm apologising. There's quite a clever thing that Ben Kane did with one of his characters, but I completely missed it and so got confused. This confusion spoilt the book and so I gave a low score. Now, of course it could be argued that I'm highlighting a flaw, but the fact is that this type of novel should be quite a bit more stimulating than, say, an Agatha Christie book.
I did enjoy reading this trilogy. In fact I read one after the other without tiring. There were some truly excellent parts, but also some which were a little frustrating at times. But that's good, as it makes the reader think. Overall I'm wavering around three and a half stars; I've gone for four due to the simple fact that I have decided I will definately read further works of Ben Kane. It will be interesting to see how he has developed as a writer.
One of the main characters is a soothsayer. Whilst his activities may seem strange to us now, back in those days such men were taken very seriously and they believed in themselves. The trilogy, being set in those times, also rightly treats the subject with the same seriousness.
on 9 May 2012
I struggled through the first two books and swithered about whether to bother with this one as I hadn't enjoyed them. Being a glutton for punishment I did get this one and found it the best of the three. It was shorter and had a lot less unneccessary detail than the others. There was less of the jumping from character to character with each chapter ending in a cliffhanger which I had disliked previously. OK we all know what happened on the Ides of March but that didn't detract from the story for me. I'm not inclinded to read any more books by this author and will try Simon Scarrow next time I want a Roman Odyssey - if that's not a contradiction in terms.
on 21 February 2015
I was fortunate enough to meet Ben Kane shortly after publication of ‘’The Silver Eagle’’, the second novel in his ‘’Forgotten Legion’’ chronicles. Having enjoyed the first two parts of the trilogy, I was eager to read the third and told him to write faster. He just laughed at me and told me I’d have to be patient. Patience may be a virtue, but it was never one of mine. Fortunately, ‘’The Road to Rome’’ was well worth the wait.
After years of wondering if their twin were still alive, Romulus and Fabiola happen to catch sight of each other on the docks at Alexandria. Their meeting isn’t to last long, as Fabiola is being rushed to safety by her lover, Brutus, one of Caesar’s most trusted generals and Romulus has just been press-ganged into an army about to go into battle. However, this chance meeting gives them additional strength, which they are certainly going to need to survive the struggles ahead.
For Fabiola, this involves killing Caesar, the man she is certain raped her mother and sired her. Recalling the information she was able to get from men as a prostitute, she buys the site of her former life, the Lupanar and starts planning Caesar’s death. Romulus, however, like most of the army loves Caesar and respects the great general that he is. He would do anything to serve Caesar, but first has to deal with the revelation from Tarquinius that his past wasn’t all it appeared to be and then fight for his life when it is discovered he is a slave, which makes fighting in a legion a capital offence. Suddenly, Romulus also returns to the site of his former life, but not by his own choosing.
Once again, there is a slightly different feel to ‘’The Road to Rome’’ than there was to the earlier parts. Previously, the main characters have largely been closer together, but this time they are all separated, which gives more story to follow. Although fleetingly, some major historical figures become integral characters here, if only as victims of parts of the plot. For the first time, we get to see Fabiola’s lover, Decimus Brutus, in a lot more depth and, as with all Kane’s characters, we get a feel for the conflict inside him very quickly.
Kane’s books may be written around historical events, but they are hugely character driven as well. Fabiola has always been driven by revenge, but this time around we see exactly how far her drive will take her and she seems to be a much colder person this time around. Tarquinius is different as well, less certain of himself with his haruspicy uncertain and consumed with guilt over his revelation to Romulus. For me, the most interesting character was Romulus, at the point he realises that having killed to survive his whole life, he is unable to commit a cold-blooded murder, even a murder he has sworn to himself for years he will commit. Fabiola and Romulus’ characters put them on opposite sides of the same coin and it’s interesting to see the differences between two people who, as twins, were so closely matched at the very start of the trilogy.
It’s not just the characters that make the story here, though, but Kane’s eye for pacing and excitement. Aware that he’s finishing off a trilogy, he ends most of the early chapters here on a cliff hanger that almost forces the reader to continue. Whilst much of the book may draw away slightly from the excitement and the sights and sounds of battle, in Kane’s hands this is no less exciting. Indeed, ‘’The Road to Rome’’ is almost the perfect combination of the previous two books, taking much from the battle scenes of ‘’The Forgotten Legion’’ and drawing from the political motivations and intrigue of ‘’The Silver Eagle’’. Kane combines the two wonderfully, then adds something extra special by doing something really nasty. He mentions a previously well-loved character, casting doubt on an earlier plot point in the minds of both character and reader in a wonderfully evil piece of mis-direction at a vital time. It’s the kind of twist that makes me want to strangle the writer – but not until I’ve finished the book because I couldn’t possibly put it down now!
‘’The Road to Rome’’ is the perfect ending to this trilogy, containing elements of everything that has been best about the series thus far, yet still adding something new. Having worked through and been captured by ‘’The Forgotten Legion’’ trilogy, I’m reminded that I never really enjoyed history at school. It always seemed so dull and lifeless to me back then. For anyone who has ever felt the same way, Ben Kane is the antidote, as I know without a shadow of doubt that if the history text books or my history teacher had ever talked about history with this same rush of excitement and intrigue, I’d have loved it above any other subject. Kane is not only a great writer, he’s made me enjoy something I’ve hated for years, which makes him a miracle worker as well.
This review may also appear, in whole or in part, under my name at any or all of www.ciao.co.uk, www.thebookbag.co.uk, www.goodreads.com, www.amazon.co.uk and www.dooyoo.co.uk
on 3 March 2011
In the final volume of the Forgotten Legion Chronicles, The Road to Rome the story reaches its conclusion and finds Romulus eventually returning to the city he fled ten years before, when he was wrongly blaimed for the death of a noble. After being captured and made to fight in a foreign army, escaping and fighting for Caesars legions, he returns home in search of his sister and to seek revenge on the man that sold him and his family into slavery.
With a back drop to reality Romulus marches through history with his two friends whilst his sister plots revenge on the man she believed raped her mother in Rome and climbs the social ladder. Along the way he losses friends and finds more and is re-aquainted with some familiar faces. Chief amongst those is Tarquinius the soothsayer who's visions have been helping along the way, as well as his double headed axe.
Ben Kane has without doubt managed to create a world that is easily imaginable to the reader and characters that most people will be able to relate to in one way or another. Some you would like and some you would hate but all are as real as the people around you in reality. As with lots of historical authors writing novels, he mirrors his characters with history as they walk their journey through the written page.
I don't want to say too much about the stories intricate details because some of you won't have read it/them and its soon to be released in the USA and I don't want to ruin it for you. All I will say that as a fan of Simon Scarrow, Anthony Riches, Douglas Jackson, Conn Iggulden and others such as Lindsey Davis, Ruth Downie and Valerio Massimo Manfredi, I can highly recommend Ben Kanes books.
For one reason or another I bought all the books when they were released and have only in the last few weeks got round to reading them. I can honestly say I've thoroughly enjoyed the journey with Romulus and company and look forward to further releases by Ben Kane and who knows, journeying once again with Romulus in the future and even maybe with someone who was last seen fighting an elephant!
Some people say that there are to many books of this nature and that the market is flooded by them, I would say to them, there are not enough! Look in Waterstones or any other book shops, this genre is a small percentage of the books available and at the end of the day if you don't like this genre stick to something you do like!
As a reader of this series from the beginning, I'd hate to think how new readers would react to trying to start from here. Not that they couldn't but they really will have a large number of problems putting things together alongside having missed a lot of development for the characters concerned. It is a great overall arc and whilst this tale is just a small snippet of the story of the twins Romulus and Fabriola along with their companions you know that it's a key part of their development. Beautifully written and with enough action to keep the blood thirsty happy its definitely a tale that will impress those who've followed from the beginning as Ben keeps developing alongside improving his weaker area's of writing. A great overall offering and one that will definitely have me baying for the next title sooner rather than later.
on 8 April 2016
Oh Ben how could you? I was once again completely gripped by this, the third in the 'Forgotten Legion' trilogy. Excellently written, well informed about the epoch and completely believable. As always, major deviations from the real timeline explained, which is something I really like. Ben has certainly got me as a fan with this trilogy and I will be looking at his other books without any prejudice.
What hurt my feelings is simple, its the third in a trilogy, that means the journey ends. I don't want it to end but I understand that ben has obviously taken the characters, which I have grown to love in a short space of time, as far as he thinks they can go. Thats fine Ben but it doesn't mean I have to like it.
Its brilliant again, what a trilogy.