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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 6 June 2013
Review

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

(Parm)

Other Books

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

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

Spartacus
1. The Gladiator (2012)
2. Rebellion (2012)
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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 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 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 13 January 2016
Second book in the trilogy. Hanno' arrives with Hannibal's army in Italy after the hard passage through the Alpes. In this book there is a lot of bloody battles, Kane manages to tell it in a fantastic and exciting way, both from the view of Hanno and his brothers fighting for Hannibal and on the other side Quintis and his father fighting for Rome.
Kane limits the number of characters which makes it an easy read but on the other hand you really can almost feel how it was like to fight in an army at that time. It's hard to imagine nowadays but it must have been horrible.
Great read!
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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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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 8 March 2016
Another of Ben's books finished in two days. I cant give any more praise than that because if they are not good, I can take an age to finish them as other things tend to be more important. My only problem is do I start the third in the series or read something else, as there is nothing new to read by Ben until the end of the month? Its a gripping read and leaves the reader itching to pick up the third and final Hannibal book in the series. Bravo Ben.
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on 22 April 2016
What I love about this set, is that we see the events through the eyes of, and happenings to, the young boys from book one, rather than just a blood and guts battle story. Of course, the battle scenes are exhilarating, but I really enjoy getting into the characters of the protagonists, Ben Kane has a wonderful way of making sure we really KNOW the characters, they are so complete. I can rely on Ben's books to satisfy my book cravings, each and every time.
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on 30 September 2015
All three books in this series are now available and after finishing the third one yesterday I can wholeheartedly recommend this series to anyone who is a fan of historical fiction.

If you're in any doubt, go and buy all three. You won't regret it. Over 1200 pages (400+ each) of thrilling and engaging storylines with characters you feel a real attachment to. Mighty Carthage humbles Rome's legions under Hannibal's expert leadership and the author perfectly captures the sights, smells and gritty realism you expect only from the very best historical fiction writers. The battle scenes are glorious and they almost make you feel like reaching for your gladius!

One of the best trilogies I've ever read and money well spent.
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