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4.5 out of 5 stars
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4.5 out of 5 stars
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on 6 January 2016
A very nice book. Thrilling and interesting till the end ! So are the other Ben Kane books.
It is a pitty for our country (Belgium) that there isn't a dutch translation from all his books.
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on 5 January 2016
Absolutely thrilling read, enjoyable characters I read this book after several of ben's other books but must say this is right at the top of my list for Ben Kane reads you won't be disappointed
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on 5 January 2016
An awesome tale of Roman times by Ben Kane, have read all 3 books and they are all well written,researched. Have read all his books now and i'm now waiting impatiently for his next book.
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on 27 January 2009
Well another day another talented newcomer to the world of historic fiction!

If some authors take Roman history and use it as a 2D background in which to perform their story in front of, Kane rather takes us on a personal tour of the graffitti daubed urine splattered streets of Rome itself!.
Other authors love to dwell on the Glory of Rome, iron shod legionaires trooping undefeated accross the world, Kane rather prefers to view the action from the perspective of the victims of its imperialist ways.

He does this through four lead characters; Tarquinius, an Etruscan soothsayer, Brennus an enslaved Gaulish warrior turned gladiator and Romulus and Fabiola a pair of twins born to a slave after she was raped by a Roman nobleman.

The story takes us from woodlands of Ghaul accross Italy and onto the desserts of the Parthians (Persia) as the fates of the four intertwine. The action takes place on the streets of Rome, in the Gladiator arena, in the brothels and of course on the battlefield.

Kane's writing style reminds me a little of another newcomer Robert Low (The Whale Road), he gives just a bit more detail and historical fact than most contempories. He actually uses latin names having subtly explained what they are, so be prepared for launching of 'Pila' the thrust of 'gladii' and the clash of 'scuta'. Reading some other reviews on here that seemed to bother some readers, however worry not, the paperback version will have a glossary in the back.

Just to be a tad critical, I felt the author was inclined at times to over egg the pudding on the evil side of the Roman's. Barely a chapter goes by without one of the heroes shaking their heads sadly and wondering at the mistreatment, waste of life, arrogance..etc etc. I felt this could have been done more subtly allowing the actions of Crassus et al to speak for itself.
I was also a little dissapointed that the action is again set in Julius Caesar's era again!!! I know for once he is a peripheral (though important) figure but there are sooo many other fascinating bits of Roman history, can someone decent not do the Punic wars!!.

Lastly I did find Tarquinius a bit to good to be true and he was rather getting on my nerves come the end. Healer, warrior, General, weapons designer, and then of course his ability to glance up to the heavens and tell you whether you will live the day out, and if you do, what you will have for tea!

But a great start and the story of the 'forgotten' is a fascinating episode in history I new very little about and it's now another ongoing story to try and keep tabs on! Count me in for the next installment.
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on 10 January 2016
A great mix of historical fact and fiction i could not put the book down as i was hooked on the story so much Ben Kane is an amazing writer a good blend of fact and fiction.
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on 6 February 2014
Easy reading - was written in a flowing style!
The characters were lively through the authors use of vocabulary and humour. I'm looking forward to the next book!
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on 23 February 2009
I loved this book. I came across this book by accident and usually would not be persuaded to pick up a book that had even a whiff of war or dry historical tales. My aversion to any writing about ancient battle history probably comes from tedious history lessons and I am ashamed to say that I know virtually nothing about ancient Rome or the gladiators.

I really connected with the slaves,Romulus and Fabiola and having the story from their perspective, warts 'n all, made that time more real to me and I even coped with the battle scenes without drifting off, for that reason.

Reading about the reality of daily life from a slaves perspective was very powerful and at times disturbing in it's injustice.

Thankfully Fabiola has the determination to try and get herself out of slavery and this fact took me through the story with a sense of anticipation and hope, making the depressing reality of the slaves life more bearable to read about.

One of the previous reviews says about how graphic some of the story is, making some difficult to read- I think that this is true and is part of what made me connect with Fabiola and Romulus. You really can almost smell the blood, dirt, sweat , semen, whatever and it is uncomfortable but not gratuitous.It is a postive discomfort in that the reader has an emotional response.

The entire story had me gripped and wanting to know more not just about what happens next to Fabiola and Romulus, but I have been left wanting to know more about Roman history.

Thanks Ben Kane, a great first novel- look forward to the next one!
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on 3 December 2015
this is my 6th book i read from Ben Kane, and it still amazese me, how he can crip you in the story from page 1, even as i'am not a native english speaker
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on 16 March 2015
I was enjoying the book when the blank pages started to appear the last time I tried to read this book just the same but I forgot to complain regards JOHN
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on 4 March 2016
You'll be hooked on this. Anyone interested in the classics will find themselves right at home here, completely immersed. Ben Kane writes brilliantly.
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