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Clash of Empires Hardcover – 17 May 2018
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It's a broad canvas Kane is painting on, but he does it with vivid colours and, like the Romans themselves, he can show great admiration for a Greek enemy and still kick them in the balls (Robert Low, author of the Oathsworn series)
Exceptional. Kane's excelled once again in capturing the terror and the glory . . . of the ancient battlefield, and this story is one that's been begging for an expert hand for a long time (Anthony Riches, author of the Empire series)
Carried off with panache and Kane's expansive, engaging, action-packed style. A complex, fraught, moving and passionate slice of history from one of our generation's most ambitious and engaging writers. (Manda Scott, author of the Boudica series)
Grabs you from the start and never lets go. Thrilling action combines with historical authenticity to summon up a whole world in a sweeping tale of politics and war. A triumph! (Harry Sidebottom, author of the THE LAST HOUR)
The word epic is overused to describe books, but with Clash of Empires it fits like a gladius in its scabbard. What Kane does, with such mastery, is place the big story - Rome vs Greece - in the background, while making this a story about ordinary men caught up in world-defining events. Men bonded by friendship and blood. Some seeking acceptance or honour or revenge. A few grasping for power and glory, but most ultimately just trying to stay alive. I for one was fascinated by the differing tactics, fighting styles and weapons, as represented by the Roman cohort and the Greek phalanx. Or, as exhibited close up and personal in the flashing melee of the gladius and pike. These contrasts seemed to speak, with horrific eloquence, of the slaughter of the classical world of Homer and Alexander. In short, I haven't enjoyed a book this much for ages.
There aren't many writers today who could take on this story and do it well. There might be none who could do it better than Ben Kane.
Ben Kane manages to marry broad narrative invention with detailed historical research . . . in taut, authoritative prose . . . his passion for the past, and for the craft of story-telling, shines from every page of Clash of Empires (Toby Clements, author of the Kingmaker series)
Fans of battle-heavy historical fiction will, justly, adore Clash of Empires. With its rounded historical characters and fascinating historical setting, it deserves a wider audience (Antonia Senior The Times)
This thrilling series opener delivers every cough, spit, curse and gush of blood to set up the mighty clash of the title. Can't really fault this one - pure man joy. (Jon Wise WEEKEND SPORT)
A powerful and vivid historical novel that moves along at chariot-race speed. (Helena Gumley-Mason THE LADY)
Ben Kane's new series explores the bloody final clash between ancient Greece and upstart Rome, focusing on soldiers and leaders from both worlds and telling the story of a bloody war with style (Charlotte Heathcote Sunday Express S Magazine)
HAS ROME FINALLY MET ITS MATCH? Clash Of Empires is the gripping first historical novel in a new series from the Sunday Times bestselling author - for fans of Simon Scarrow, Harry Sidebottom, Conn Iggulden and Bernard Cornwell.See all Product description
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On the Roman side, you have a nation weary from years of conflict against the Carthaginians. On the Macedonian side, you have a leader intent on emulating the great Alexander.and uniting all the Greece states and cities under one ruler.
Once again with Ben's books, this is not all flowers and sweetness. There are atrocities carried out by both armies which some readers may find
unpalatable but reflects the attitudes of the period. These were hard times where life was cheap and girls and civilians were treated harshly. Some authors may gloss over the facts but with Ben the reader is left in no doubt about what life was like at this time. War was brutal and the reader is taken into the heart of the battle with the soldiers. Indiscipline is dealt with harshly, punishment is meted out without any recourse. Friends are killed, enemies are everywhere, even amongst your own army. Soldiers lives come second to achieving your aim. Death is a constant companion.
Ben Kane is quite rightly regarded as one of the best writers of Roman historical fiction and this book firmly cements his place there. He is highly regarded by both his fans and other writers of the same period and quite rightly so. This book is just superb and will do Ben's reputation no damage at all. He has set the bar extremely high once again and left it to other authors to reach the same height. Very few will reach it.
I can not recommend this book enough. If you have read this far then I can only assume that you are considering buying this book. You won't be disappointed if you buy it.
The historical details, which you can find at the end of the book in the Author's Note, concerning this wonderful story are very well researched and documented, and these details are superbly implemented within this great historical tale, and besides that there's also a well explained Glossary.
At the beginning of the book you'll notice two well-drawn maps of the Kingdom of Macedon and of Asia Minor and the Propontis, both in 202 BC, and besides that there's a short note from the author himself about the two maps at the end papers of the book, front Latin and back Greek.
Story-telling is as ever of a superb quality, for the author brings the Ancient World to us in a most delightful fashion in which all his characters come vividly to life and the atmosphere of these brutal and turbulent times come very much to the forefront.
The book starts with a very interesting prologue situated in the year 215 BC, before the book, which is divided into 4 parts, begins to flourish into a magnificent story that starts in the year 202 BC and will end in the year 198 BC.
Parts 1 and 2 are divided into 4 main streams; the first one being King Philip V of Macedon, who's trying to emulate his forebears King Philip II and his son Alexander the Great, by recapturing all of Greece and beyond; the second being Demetrios, after having been a rower in the army of King Philip is now due to a lucky encounter with Simonides a phalangist in that same Macedonian army; the third being Senator Flamininus, who's doing all he can to become Consul and win glory for himself by defeating Philip and the Macedonians; and finally fourth the brothers Felix and Antonius, who after having defeated the Carthaginians at Zama are dishonourably discharged after falling asleep on sentry duty, and now they've enlisted themselves with the Legions who will invade Greece and will be fighting the Macedonians.
In parts 3 and 4 we find King Philip V of Macedon and his Macedonians, with Demetrios in their midst, in war in Greece against the Roman legions, lead by Consul Flamininus, and with Felix and Antonius in their midst, where battles will be fought to the death, causing lots of casualties, but for the moment its a stalemate and only time will tell what will happen next.
Highly recommended, for this historical novel is really a treasure to read and I look very much forward to its sequel, and because of that I would like to call this book: "A Most Superb Beginning"!
Set around 200BC and shortly after the defeat of Hannibal of Carthage at Zama, this book recounts some of the battles fought between Macedonia and some of its neighbouring states, as Philip, Macedon's king, tried to recreate the Macedonian Empire imagining himself as the new Alexander.
As the rising superpower in the Mediterranean it was probably inevitable that Rome would eventually become involved especially as elements of the Roman Senate were still smarting with indignation at the alliance Philip tried to forge with Hannibal; revenge was clearly on their agenda. Nevertheless, confident in his own abilities and the fighting prowess of his army, Philip fights on winning some stunning battles.
What I particularly enjoyed about this book apart from some very strong characters who you become invested with, is the way that the story is told from several viewpoints: a simple Macedonian farmer who rises to fight in the phallanx, two Roman brothers, Philip and a Roman Senator who after much scheming becomes Consul and earns the right to lead the war against Philip seeking glory and fortune.
The only thing I found difficult about this book and this is in no way the author's fault (facts are facts) but it was sometimes hard to comprehend who and where all these small Greek city states were and as someone who likes to totally immerse himself in a book and understand everything, I found myself constantly reverting to the maps at the front of the book.
This was a thumping good read and highly recommended. Most Roman historical fiction books tend to focus on the period 70BC - 60AD which is fine - there are plenty of stories to be told there - but it would be good if more books about Rome's earlier history were written - Marius, Sulla, Scipio etc.
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