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on 1 October 2015
This is an excellent read, I thoroughly enjoyed every page, didn't even skip pages! The subject, apart from the usual elephant stories, has somehow passed me by until now. Ben manages to get the historical facts in, blending with all of the human elements, another one of his books that kept me reading until 2 am because I didn't want to put it down. I would recommend this, and any of his other books to discerning readers who like a well rounded historically accurate thoroughly enjoyable tale.
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on 5 April 2014
This has so much suspense building in it that I was almost afraid to read the next page. Ben doesn't go for the comfortable route, instead he takes you on a stomach churning journey, This is a good thing though, as you don't want to be able to predict where the story is going. It's been awhile since a book has brought tears to my eyes.
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on 29 April 2017
I chose the book because I have read the ones released before and very much enjoyed them. I am a big fan of Ben Kane and especially the Roman stories. Really exciting book and again full of twists and great characters.
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on 18 April 2017
Very good book
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on 4 July 2016
The books by this author all have great stories and action, this is no different
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on 2 March 2017
Good swords and sandals stuff, enlivened by the fact that Ben Kane has done a lot of research and used it to provide excellent colour.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 27 February 2014
Clouds of War is the third in the series so if you don't want any hints as to what happened in the previous two novels, please don't read on!

The bloody field of Cannae has left the forces of Rome and Hannibal reeling, many thousands of their soldiers dead. The focus now moves to the island of Sicily. Syracuse is held by Carthaginian forces, its mighty walls and harbour protected by the war engines of Archimedes. In Clouds of War, the third novel in Ben Kane's Hannibal series set in the early 3rd century BC, Quintus, a Roman equestrian now in disguise as an ordinary legionary, is one of the many to camp outside the walls of the city. What he doesn't know is that his sister Aurelia is within the walls, a captured slave. Her rescue, though, comes at the hands of Hanno, the Carthaginian she has loved since he was himself enslaved to her own family years before. Now she and Hanno must fight to stay together while the world around them falls to pieces during this most violent and brutal of sieges, not knowing that one of the men who threatens them is her own brother.

There is much more to Clouds of War than the horrendous siege of Syracuse. We follow Quintus and his tent brothers as they fight to win the trust of their centurion, the brave Corax, while doing all they can to avenge the cruelty of Pera, a monstrous coward who is also, luckily for him, the cousin of Marcellus, the supreme Roman commander. At sea and in the streets, it's a battle for Quintus to stay alive. In the other half of the story is Aurelia, the young Roman matron whose father died at Cannae and whose husband is now lost. What Aurelia has to endure in Rome and Sicily is perhaps even more painful than what Quintus must undergo sword in hand but it is also completely different. Aurelia has no independence and quite aside from that Clouds of War harshly demonstrates how she and countless other women in war are its victims.

Clouds of War is, I think, the best of the three novels published in the series so far. I had issues with the second, but not with this. Quintus and Hannibal are much more clearly defined and distinct, as are the events that carry them along through this exciting novel. Aurelia is also much more interesting, although I would argue that what she has to suffer seems more than any one woman should have to cope with. She, more than anyone else in the novel, is damaged and I think that is clear throughout even when she tries to rebuild her life during these most traumatic of situations.

The battles and skirmishes that lead up to the siege, and then the siege scenes themselves, are thrilling while also being utterly brutal. I don't enjoy reading about the rape and slaughter of women and children and so I did take pause a little but it didn't feel gratuitously done. Quintus is an interesting character here. He has the qualities you'd expect from the hero of a Roman military novel but he has his flaws and his grip on what matters does take a hit or two, especially when there's the chance of diving into an amphora of wine. Hannibal is a slightly less interesting character in Clouds of War than he has been but I think that's mostly because this novel focuses on Quintus and his sister and I like that the book does that. The novel does leave some unanswered questions - more than one character disappears without further mention - but this is an ongoing series.

As always with Ben Kane's books, Clouds of War reflects his meticulous research into Roman and Greek warfare, history and places. It is written extremely well and with great authority. In Clouds of War, as with Kane's superb Spartacus novels, Kane also brings to the fore the humanity of these three young figures, victims of their times, and, as a result, this is a richly rewarding, compelling read and without doubt my favourite of the series. I'm grateful for the review copy.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 14 April 2015
This is the third book in a series based around Hannibal. I read this as a stand alone book not having read the first two. This worked well and although there were occasional references to earlier happenings I didn't feel my enjoyment was any the less for not having read the first two.

Hannibal himself plays a very small role in this book. The action centres around Hanno, an officer favoured by Hannibal and Quintus who is a basic foot soldier in the Roman army. A majority of the action takes place in Sicily at the seige of Syracuse.

This is not really my sort of book and I wouldn't pick it from the shelves. However, it was my bookclub book for the month so I embarked on it not being totally sure how much I was going to enjoy it. I was very pleasantly surprised by how much I did enjoy this. There is plenty of action with small skirmishes, full blown battles and slaughters. It is quite a gruesome book in places but this is a gruesome time. I did feel that the author had taken me into the period of history very well. Life is very obviously cheap and priorites are very different to ours. The author manages to portray the violence of the war, murder and rape without explicit details. he set enough of a scene that my imagination could take it from there!

There are some excellent characters in this book and I particularly took to Quintus, the Roman foot soldier and his comrades. I don't know if they would have been as close to each other in real life but it worked well in the book. Quintus is portrayed as quite war weary and having some qualms about the mass slaughters that he is involved in. However, he is not above killing for his own purposes. Hanno is more involved in intrigue and less in hand to hand combat. He seems a likeable chap but more solitary than Quintus.

This book did stall a bit in the middle when there seemed to be a lot of waiting around & not much happening. Admittedly there was a seige on so this was probably true to life but my interest did start to waiver a bit. Fortunately this didn't last long enough for me to give up on the book and it soon got underway again.

I did enjoy this book and it was good to be challenged by reading something out of my comfort zone. There were some culture shocks particularly by the excessive mentions of getting drunk and going to the toilet - though it wasn't described in quite those terms! It is a violent and brutal book but nothing that wasn't in keeping with the time period. Would I read another one? I probably wouldn't deliberately seek out a similar book but if someone suggested one to me I would give it a go.
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on 26 April 2016
When is a book about Hannibal, not about Hannibal? When it has the real life historic figure popping up for about two pages and then is only implied throughout the rest of the book. ‘Hannibal: Clouds of War’ is not a book about Hannibal, but instead a book set during the time that Carthage looked like it may defeat the Romans with his leadership. We follow Hanno and Quintus; two once friends who find themselves on the opposite side of the conflict. Quintus is part of a Roman Army camped outside of the city of Syracuse hoping to defeat the enemy within. Unbeknownst to him, Hanno is inside after being tasked by Hannibal with keeping an eye on the city leaders – even more worrying is that someone else is in the city who is infinitely more precious than his old friend.

‘Clouds’ is both solid historic fiction, whilst also being terribly uninspiring. Ben Kane is a great author of Roman fiction, but this is him in second gear. Basing the book on a prolonged siege is no bad things as the tension can rise over time and you do feel the oppression of the era, but perhaps a little too much. Roman fiction is often gory, but parts of ‘Clouds’ just felt unsettling and unpleasant. This is a reflection of the time, but if you cannot find passion in the characters, the gruesome parts seem more macabre and indulgent.

The problem is that Hanno and Quintus alike feel like cardboard cut-out characters. Perhaps it is a fatigue with the genre, but this cannot be the case as Kane’s next two book move away from this era and are far better. It is as if he himself knew that the series was starting to run a little out of steam. The story of ‘Clouds’ is passable, yet a little aimless. Fans of historic fiction will get a reasonable read, but there is nothing in this one to write home about.
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on 9 May 2017
Great wrap up to this part of the series which sees the reuniting of the main characters. This book juatblike all other ben kane books is brilliantly written and another must read! Looking forward to the next part of this series.
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