Publication Date: 20th February 2012
Book Source: Author & Random House Australia
Synopsis: The first of two epic novels which tell the story of one of the most charismatic heroes history has ever known -- Spartacus, the gladiator slave who took on and nearly defeated the might of Rome, during the years 73-71 BC.
In historical terms we know very little about Spartacus the man -- partly because most contemporary Roman historians were keen to obliterate his memory and prevent him from attaining mythic status. This of course is grist to the novelist's mill. Ben Kane's brilliant novel begins in the Thracian village to which Spartacus has returned, after escaping from life as an auxiliary in the Roman army. But here he quickly falls foul of his overlord, the Thracian king, who has set his heart on Dionysian priestess, Ariadne -- later to become wife of Spartacus. Betrayed again to the Romans by his jealous king, Spartacus -- and with him Ariadne -- are taken in captivity to the school of gladiators at Capua. It is here -- against the unbelievable brutality of gladiatorial life -- that Spartacus and Crixus the Gaul plan the audacious overthrow of their Roman masters, escaping to Vesuvius, where they recruit and train a huge slave army -- an army which will keep the might of Rome at bay for two years and create one of the most extraordinary legends in history. Spartacus: The Gladiator takes the story up to the moment when the slave army has inflicted its first great defeat on Rome.
Compelling reading, Spartacus The Gladiator was an absolute page turner. Ben Kane covers the well known story of Spartacus with a brilliant balance of historical detail and fictional flare bringing the story to life in fascinating, horrifying and brutal glory.
Spartacus is known as one of the greatest military commanders in history, a master tactician, a man of strength, intelligence, honour, loyalty and while understanding the inhumanities and cruelties inflicted during war he possessed a strong moral code.
Skilled in Roman warfare from years spent in the Roman legions, Spartacus returns to his home village after a ten year absence to be betrayed, sold into slavery and trained as a gladiator in the Ludus in Capua. He masterminds the escape from the Ludus and along with fellow gladiators trains and leads a growing army of slaves in rebellion against the might of Rome.
Kane's vivid writing and graphic descriptions give an excellent sense of time and place. Not for the faint hearted; battle after battle, violence, pillaging, rape, carnage and the horror endured by women of this time was difficult to read but I couldn't get enough Spartacus and the 'Gladiator War'. If I'm nit-picking my one query would be on the authenticity of the 'f-bomb' in 74BC??
After finishing what would have to be one of my favourite reads this year I cannot wait for the sequel, Spartacus: Rebellion.
Statue of Spartacus at the Louvre
Attribution: Denis Foyatier
CC Attribution Share-Alike licence
Visit Ben Kane's website to find out more about this author and his work.