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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 6 June 2013

Ben Kane now belongs to one of those rare few authors who, when they have a book coming out you buy it. His skill as a writer has been proven time and time again, now its just enjoying the stories and people he writes, and how closely he gets his history to match the plot.

I have read and heard before about Hannibal Barca and Cannae, but never before in such vivid and at times gory detail This book is not called Fields of Blood for nothing.

As usual Ben's research is impeccable (the man would be harder on himself for getting it wrong than any reader could be). If there are any mistakes it will take a better person than me to spot them, and if you are such a person, make sure you read the authors note before you pick fault (it is fiction so tinkering is a must at times).

In this book we get to follow the ups and downs of Hanno, Quintus and Aurelia. All suffer hardships, all suffer the trials of adolescents becoming adults, and all do it in a world of upheaval When I think back to the moans my son gave and I did as a teen and compare them the trials of the ancient world.... well trivial comes to mind.

There are many flashes of emotion in the book, from elation at a relatives survival, to dark morbid brooding at being forced into an unexpected life, or the thoughts of imminent death through to manic bestial savagery just in the name of survival. In the next book I would like to see the main characters Hanno and Quintus suffering with some form of PTSD. They have both been portrayed as intelligent and compassionate men, at times quite emotive, and while it should not cripple them I would think that combination will colour who and what they become next after the horror of Cannae. Hanno I think has already shown some signs of PTSD from his imprisonment and slavery, his desire for revenge by the end of the book is savage and could be his undoing. Its a depth of character examination that really brings his cast to life (well it did with Hanno).

I enjoyed (if that's the right description) the regular highs and lows of emotion for Aurelia, not just her own situation, but the stress and strain on top of that, of not knowing, of the fact that the news of lost battles reached them quickly but in the ancient world, news of individuals is sporadic and time-wise a lengthy process. (if you think royal mail is bad)! These extended periods of not knowing mean some really dark periods for Aurelia followed by extreme highs. All captured so well by Ben, and again we start to see the subtle cracks in her persona as this mental strain takes it toll.

Its this gradual attrition that is subtly captured that really makes this book great, battles are as i have heard some authors say "a piece of pi$$ to write" writing them so well and then expanding the fall out into the souls of his cast, that's the real skill which Ben pulls off in style. That said, the battles in this book are not a glorification of war, but more the endless grind and peril, the violence without clear result, and the tactical genius of Hannibal.

I'm a little astonished how fast this book went (granddaughter tends to curb my reading time) , but despite all the interruption this book was gone in 2 days, and for a 400 page book in my daily routine that's a darn speedy read, and can only be the result of being utterly engrossed. Its a feeling i have had with all but one of Ben's books (wont name it, as many others loved it).

So Mr Kane, once again I doff my hat in your direction at what is a Bloody Splendid book, set in a bloody dangerous time and ending in one of the bloodiest fields of all time.

Highly Recommended


Other Books

Forgotten Legion Chronicles
1. The Forgotten Legion (2008)
2. The Silver Eagle (2009)
3. The Road to Rome (2010)

1. Enemy of Rome (2011)
2. Fields of Blood (2013)

1. The Gladiator (2012)
2. Rebellion (2012)
0Comment|15 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
Ben is an author I’ve loved for years and as such, he’s an author that has gone from strength to strength especially with his latest series following the war between Carthage and Rome. It brings the past to life, giving the reader a sense of the time not only politically but also from each civilisations point of view which when backed with characters that the reader can easily associate with all round gives you a great reading experience.

Back this up with an additive writing style, some great combat sequences and of course some wonderful lulls with cracking dialogue and all round I was a happy reader.
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on 10 October 2013
Ben Kane excels in the second book of the Hannibal Series - Fields of Blood. This book continues to follow Hanno and Quintus as they lead up to and fight in arguably one of the bloodiest battles ever.

Hanno is a Carthaginian officer (previously a Slave of Quintus's family) fighting for Hannibal, while Quintus was a Roman equestrian who joins the Infantry. Friends in the same battle, on opposite sides, both fighting for there very survival.

The book follows both of these characters on the path to Cannae. Along the way there is many Ambushes skirmishing and even time for Love to blossom. In typical Ben Kane style the fighting scenes are superb with just enough detail to not be too graphic. The detail to which the book covers both sides, how they formed up for battle, the armour they wore, even down to the Helmets & Spears is magnificent.

Like all of Ben Kane's books, this was excellently written and I always looked forward to reading the next page, next chapter and next book.
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on 1 October 2015
I bought this book on the day of its release and was extremely eager to get stuck into it because the first book in the series, Hannibal: Enemy of Rome was so good!

However, two years later I still hadn’t started and became determined to get re-emerged in this series. Now that I work a pretty boring job, I found the time to be able to finally get through the novel and that was by downloading the audiobook. I’m extremely glad I did because I was gripped by this book from the very start and ended up finishing the 16 hour long audiobook in two days!

As I said above, this book is the second in Ben Kane’s Hannibal series and is set a few months after the end of the previous novel. The plot follows three main characters: Hanno a Carthaginian, Quintus a Roman Cavalryman and Aurelia, Quintus’s sister. Quintus is part of the defeated and quite frankly embarrassed Roman Army dogging the footstep of the infamous enemy of Rome- Hannibal.

After being overpowered at the River Trebia, the Roman Cavalry is licking its wounds and its hurt pride. After a stupid hunting incident, Quintus is ordered to return home by his father in shame. Being the patriotic Roman, Quintus decides to defy his father’s orders and enlist in the Roman infantry as a Velites, the lowest form of soldier in the army. Having been in the infantry a few hours, Quintus learns that it is not as easy or as civilised as the life of a cavalryman. Adjusting quickly to his new role and to new enemies, Quintus must prepare for the greatest battle in Roman history, the Battle of Cannae.

Hanno is an infantry officer in the Carthaginian army and is currently out of favour with his general Hannibal. After releasing his old friend Quintus at the River Trebia, Hanno is desperate to show his worth to his general. On a scouting expedition Hanno is captured and tortured by the Romans, igniting a flame of hatred for Carthage’s oldest enemy that can only be quenched by Roman blood. However, there is one Roman he would love to meet again and that is Quintus’s sister Aurelia. As the Carthaginian army passes Capua, a chance encounter with Aurelia causes Hanno to look at his life differently.

Missing her brother and father (and Hanno) terribly, Aurelia is in despair as news from the battle at Trebia is slow to reach her farm in the Italian countryside. Because of the lack of news, her father’s debtors come knocking and Aurelia is force to marry a rich Roman noble to pay the debts. After her meeting with Hanno she falls even deeper into depression, dreaming of a life that might have been if the war never happened.

This book was great, even listening to the audiobook I was absolutely staggered at the amount of detail Kane puts into the book. His description of the hierarchy in the Roman army and the battlefield of Cannae make the events of the battle so real, making you feel the horror of the soldiers who were trapped so perfectly in Hannibal’s web. In addition, I loved the change of fate Quintus has in the book. If any of you have read my other reviews, you’ll know I love a zero-to-hero protagonist. Putting Quintus in the Velites fills that role perfectly for me as I didn’t find him that interesting of a character until then.

This was a great historical novel and I loved every minute of listening to Michael Praed read the story! I’d suggest this book to anyone who likes other authors such as Simon Scarrow and Anthony Riches. I just downloaded the audiobook for Hannibal: Clouds of War and can’t wait to listen to it!

For more book reviews google adam-p-reviews
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 13 June 2013
Ben Kane's retelling of Hannibal's campaign against Rome was paused to make way for his two superb Spartacus novels (The Gladiator and Rebellion). Now, Kane picks up the threads of Hannibal: Enemy of Rome (Hannibal 1) to continue the story of young Carthaginian soldier Hanno, his Roman counterpart Quintus and Aurelia, the Roman's younger sister. Do please read the excellent Enemy of Rome first. Once you've done so you'll know that the ties that bind Hanno to Quintus and Aurelia are complicated.

The centerpiece of Hannibal: Fields of Blood is the Battle of Cannae. This battle, fought in 216 BC, retains the dubious distinction, as Ben Kane informs us, of remaining one of the bloodiest battles of history, with over 50,000 Roman soldiers dead on the field. All paths here do indeed lead to Cannae, although we pass on the way skirmishes, raids and feats of daring on both sides, not least by Hanno and Quintus themselves.

While Hanno has to reassert his loyalty to the extraordinary Hannibal, proving that he is no friend of Rome, and attempting to find peace with his two brothers, Quintus has to prove himself to his father. No longer able to do this as a member of the elite equestrians, Quintus turns his back on his father and comrades and instead `re-enlists' as a common foot soldier. In this lowly position he has to fight for supremacy, even survival, in the small world of his tent men. Enemies are easily made here. A knife in the back is so easily explained away. Meanwhile, near Capua, Quintus' young sister Aurelia has to reassert her own independence against her mother who is intent on marrying her off to save the fortunes of the estate. Actually, there can be no independence, and that is the battle that Aurelia must fight, within herself.

It was good news to learn that Ben Kane was returning to Hanno and Quintus. Since Enemy of Rome, though, we have been given the two Spartacus novels which, I think, are spectacularly good and again took me on a very different path to the one I was expecting. It's possible that by the time Fields of Blood came around, too much time had passed.

Ben Kane is a master of the details. His research is meticulous and every page reaps the benefit of thorough knowledge. His description of the two armies, their units, and the Battle of Cannae itself, are superb. But there is for me little of the enjoyment that I had felt reading Enemy of Rome. This might well be the result of the times being told here - this was hardly a good time to be Carthaginian or Roman - but I found it relentlessly bleak. I found Hanno and Quintus difficult to distinguish in terms of character and I had little grasp of the wider picture. Where I think Fields of Blood does suffer is in the sections dealing with Aurelia. Personally, I would have preferred them removed. Nevertheless, this is a vivid and exact picture of a brutal confrontation and, as a piece of military historical fiction, Fields of Blood has much to commend it. I'm grateful for the review copy.
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on 24 November 2013
I actually started part 2 on holiday abroad & couldn't put it down until I finished it. I was branded as anti-social. I have a feeling we'll be seeing more of these characters and the sooner the better please - no pressure Ben!
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on 27 May 2016
Once more, Ben Kane delivers a novel of the highest quality. His research into his books is second to none and you can easily believe that his books have been written through personal experience rather than from the pages of history. This is another brutal but honest book following Hannibal and his army as they roam through Italy at will. The all conquering Roman army we all read about at school aren't quite as invincible as we've been led to believe. They are often outwitted by Hannibal, suffering losses unimaginable to our more sensitive lives. What is most surprising in this book is how often they fall for the same trap by Hannibal. It really is an eye opener to the conflict we all know a little about, but not the full extent of the horror of it. Ben does not hold back when describing the battle scenes and you will not be left in any doubt about the slaughter that occurred. Most of the story is seen through the eyes of Quintus and Hanno, enemies through birth, master and slave through fate, friends through experience and enemies again through loyalty. Hanno is a complex character and I was often left wondering whether to cheer for him or to despise him! I am very interested to see how his character develops in Clouds of War. I urge everyone with an interest in historical fiction to discover Ben Kane. His knowledge of Roman history is second to none and his books are firm favourites of mine, but please don't just take my word for it, find out for yourself. You'll be glad when you do.
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on 1 January 2014
It has taken me longer to finish reading Hannibal Fields of Blood than it has taken me to read any of Ben Kane's other books, and I've read them all so far. It wasn't that I found the story hard going or boring in fact the opposite, I just realised after buying it, that I wanted to take my time with it as I normally consume his novels within a couple of days. So I deliberately rationed myself to a few pages at a time, whilst reading other books and generally being very busy in between sessions.

However, I'm glad to say it was worth it but I don't think I'll be doing that again, because it was very difficult to resist picking it up every time I looked for a book to read. I'm not going to go into the story itself because some people might not have read it but suffice to say, it's another cracker and a worthy addition to the bookshelf containing the Forgotten Legion trilogy and Spartacus series (so far).

One of the really engaging things about this story is that you come to like the characters from both sides, there isn't an inherent 'bad side' and so reflects reality in my opinion. Hanno and Quintus, two of the main characters and childhood friends, find themselves on opposite sides of the Carthage versus Rome war and each story is as enjoyable as the other and you find yourself rooting for both.

Ben Kane's research combined with his great story telling ability and passion for Rome, has produced another fantastic novel and I'll certainly be in line for more to come over the next few years.
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on 19 July 2013
Tackling an epic time of history, one in which the outcome will determine the future of Western Europe and beyond, is a heady task to say the least and Ben Kane has met the challenge. Think about the enormity of the consequences of this decade's long conflict between Carthage and Rome. If Carthage wins then our world today would be different in some fashion...hmmm, sounds like a good idea for an alternative history story; but I digress.
Cannae - 50,000 Roman soldiers, 8000 Carthaginians - that is indeed a lot of blood. This second book in the series takes off where Hannibal Enemy of Rome ends. Rome is reeling from Hannibal's successes in crossing The Alps and defeating every legion it comes up against, leading to the twin disasters of Lake Trasimene and Cannae. The main characters, Hanno and Quintus have grown much during this time, are now war hardened, blooded infantrymen. The author does a superb job in his development of his characters, both major and minor, good guys and not so good guys. You can still feel the emotion and struggles of Hanno regarding his slave past, his love for Aurelia and the intense friction between he and his brothers. Quintus in the meantime has rebelled against his father and has secretly become an infantryman rather than suffer the indignity of being sent home.
The story goes back and forth between Hanno, Quintus and Aurelia so we get good views and descriptions of the daily lives of a Carthaginian phalanx, a Roman maniple and the struggles of those left behind to keep the family out of the clutches of unscrupulous loan sharks. The author is in top form as he brings us into the lives of these perplexed individuals as they contend with the fact that their countries are bitter foes and yet they have emotional bonds with each other that transcend the hostilities.
The two major battles of this book, Lake Trasimene and Cannae are dramatically retold and one cannot help but wonder at Hannibal's military genius and the confounding inability of the Romans to counter that genius. The end of this episode finds Hanno exultant and Quintus wondering how he is still alive. This well crafted story is a must for any who love stories that bring you the agonies and ecstasies, the highs and lows of human emotions in a war torn country. Well done Mr. Kane, looking forward to the next installment. I rate this book at 4.8.
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on 18 August 2013
Generally, one would think when buying a book with the name of a famous historical character in the title, the story would evolve around that character. Not so ! I'm afraid, Hannibal features in nothing but name on just a few pages in the book. The whole story centres around two families on either side of the conflict. I found this difficult to understand, especially as Ben Kane's Spartacus novels do centre around the title character and the reader can share the emotions of the heroes and heroines registered in history.

I can only assume that not enough genuine sources are available to allow for Hannibal to feature as a main character and the author chose not to let his immagination run free where Hannibal was concerned. He chose to develop fictional characters with whom he can do what he wants in the novels. Nevertheless I would have preferred to experience this period of history through the eyes of real "historical" characters.

However, nothing should take away the fact that Ben Kane is a great story teller and his descriptions of the times are extremely well presented. And despite the disappointment of Hannibal not featuring, Kane's incredible ability to describe the events especially the horrors of the Battle of Cannae make this novel a very enjoyable read.
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