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The Forgotten Legion: (The Forgotten Legion Chronicles No. 1) Paperback – 16 Apr 2009

4.5 out of 5 stars 156 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 672 pages
  • Publisher: Preface Publishing; Reprint edition (16 April 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1848090102
  • ISBN-13: 978-1848090101
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 3.5 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (156 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 547,379 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


"Bloody, fast-paced, thrilling ... what Wilbur Smith did for Egypt, Kane does for ancient Rome ... a masterful debut that shouldn't be missed!" (James Rollins, bestselling author of The Last Oracle)

"I thoroughly enjoyed The Forgotten Legion - so much so that I stayed up until 2am to finish it. Kane delves into the grim underbelly of slavery, prostitution and gladiatorial carnage; a place where life is cheap and the thirst of the conquerors for the blood of the conquered knows no bounds ... The conclusion leaves us waiting for the sequel" (Manda Scott, author of the 'Boudica' novels)

Book Description

Three men and one woman are bound in servitude to the Republic: their odyssey begins in Rome, but ends at the very limits of the known world, where the Forgotten Legion fights against overwhelming odds.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition
Republican Rome's underbelly exposed.

Ben Kane's novel 'The Lost Legion' is a gripping novel set in ancient Rome. Kane writes about the last days of the Roman Republic but with an unusual approach. He chooses his main characters from people on the margins of Roman society, those who inhabit the underbelly of the Republic and provide the essential services to keep the wealthy in a life of luxury. This means that the society they describe is almost as much of a mystery to them as it to the reader of two thousand years later.

Kane opens the book by giving us Tarquinius, a character from the long-conquered Etruscan society, moves swiftly to introduce Brennus a giant of a Gaul and then to Romulus and Fabiola, slave siblings who are sold into two of the most awful worlds of Rome, the brothel and the circus.

Kane chooses to develop different streams of his novel, never an easy task but one which he manages with skill. I never felt I had to go back to re-read what was happening to one of the characters even when there had been a gap since I had last read about them.

I particularly liked his portrayal of the clever, beautiful Fabiola. Many epic historical novels tend to side-line female characters but Fabiola is not a woman content to be side-lined by anybody, (including, I suspect, the author.) I look forward to seeing how she will develop.

Kane seems to me to be historically accurate, adept at capturing the essence of Romans such as Caesar, Crassus and Brutus. This dedication to authenticity led to one of my few niggles. He uses the accurate Roman words for weapons, almost all of the time. This gave me pause; I'd rather he dispensed with the Latin and said swords and shields for ease of reading.
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Format: Paperback
This is an adventure set in the days of Pompey, Crassus and Caesar and following the legion that Crassus lost on his ill fated expedition into Parthia. It's a good enough story, and I don't really fault the effort the author has put into understanding the history and setting - but I have been spoiled by reading through Conn Iggulden's "Emperor" series. That is an extremely hard act to follow.

Ultimately the thing that - to me - let this book down was the pacing of the story - I almost gave up at 250 pages in because nothing much had actually happened at that point. We were treated with far too much information about the life of the prostitute Fabiola. I did not intend to buy soft porn, but the sexual references were very frequent in this book (not just for straight sex either). Eventually events unfold in Parthia as they must, and there were no surprises on that score. The story sets up a sequel, but maybe the book would have been more interesting if the sequel had been written into this one. I doubt I will bother with the sequel.

Regarding prose, there was something odd in the dialogue. The author uses some very basic colloquial English, which is fair enough as a stylistic choice. Romans swore as much as anyone, and used colloquialisms too. But then the next sentence of dialogue would be much more formal. An example:

"We are in deep sh**. We should flee"

Surely a more natural dialogue would read "We are in a dire situation now, we should flee" (formal) or "We are in deep sh**. Run!" (colloquial)

Maybe others will disagree, but this grated on me as I was reading it.

I cannot really recommend this story, although its not the worst thing I ever read, so I will give it 3 stars and add that if you are patient with the pacing, your mileage may vary. But really I would recommend the "Emperor" series in preference to this.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I'll be honest from the outset, I bought this because I've finished all of Simon Scarrow's "Cato" and Rob Low's "Orm/Crowbone" series, and I wanted a new set of characters to follow. Sadly I shan't be buying another of Mr. Kane's books.
The four central characters are presented tortuously slowly, the story developing like an albatross trying to take off, on ice, without wings. In fact by the time the story got to the "Forgotten Legion" part, I really didn't care. Other reviewers refer to caricature "baddies" and historical inaccuracies so I'll refrain. But they are there.
When I was reading this I didn't really get a sense of the any passion from the author in any element, the action sequences were vapid, (and too infrequent) and the exposition very glib.
I also got the feeling that the author was feeding us bits of historical information as a patronising gesture, and would insert a paragraph of monologue to explain some completely irrelevant tidbit, which additionally slowed the story.
To my mind, books of this genre need three things, a good story well told, plausible characters and a good tempo, this has a good story badly told, mono dimensional characters and is quick as cold treacle.
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Format: Hardcover
This book is really outstanding, all the more so as it's the author's first book. The research is impeccable, no doubt reflecting the author's long-standing interest in Roman history. It follows an Iggulden like model of interlacing several related stories following key characters before drawing them all together. The quality of the visualisation of ancient Rome also follows Iggulden and, if anything, is better. I'd recommend this novel certainly before Scarrow's books.
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