Monday, 2 April 2012

Hannibal: Enemy of Rome, Ben Kane

Publishers: Arrow Books Ltd

Pages: 576

Main Characters:

Hanno, Quintus, Bostar, Sapho,
 Fabricius, Malchus,

Set at the start of the Second Punic Wars, Hannibal: Enemy of Rome tells the tale of two very different people who share the same destiny. The first is that of a young Carthaginian called Hanno and the second is that of a young Roman aristocrat called Quintus. The novel starts with Hanno’s tale as he and his friend Suni ignore their fathers demand and go off fishing. The shoals of tunny are huge and the boys catch dozens of the expensive fish which will bring them a profit back in Carthage. To celebrate their record catch the boys share an amphora of wine and fall asleep, awaking hours later to be adrift at sea miles from their home. After been lost in the ocean for a few days the boys are eventually found by pirates who sell them into slavery in Italy. Originally meant to be gladiators, Hanno is bought by a young aristocrat because of his exceptional skills with languages, the name of the aristocrat is Quintus.

Quintus’ tale starts with him coming into manhood. To prove that he is man, Quintus and his father go bear hunting. After successfully killing the bear, Quintus is now seen as a grown man and allowed to take more control over the management of his father’s farm and also allowed to train to become a cavalry officer in the Roman army. One of his new duties of been a man is to go to the slave market in Capua and pick out a new household slave.  Quintus decides to pick a young Carthaginian slave because of his understanding of Latin and Greek. From this part on, Hanno and Quintus’ tale takes a dramatic twist, which sees them change from master and slave, to friends and then to enemies.  It takes them from been boys to men as they both fight for their countries in a war that could wipe Rome and the Roman civilisation off the map.

The reason I choose to read this book was because it did not look like your usual Roman novel. I have read the Roman novels from Simon Scarrow, Anthony Riches and Conn Iggulden and they all have the same thing in common, they are all written from a Roman perspective. Don’t get me wrong, I loved each and every one of those novels but I think Kane’s idea of writing the book from the point of view of a Carthaginian was a refreshing change. It was a great book! The story was brilliant as we saw two people who should be enemies become friends and then have to end that friendship as the war between Carthage and Rome began. The thing I was most impressed with in this book was the amount of detail Kane put into it. Firstly the descriptions of the scenery in this book are breath-taking as Kane paints a clear picture of what cities such as Carthage, Rome and Capua looked like. As well as the scenery, I thought Kane’s description of the units in each army were also brilliant. Kane clearly defined what the difference between each unit was and how it was used, which only added to the book when imaging the battle scenes within it. It was amazing that Kane could describe these things so well , as much of the material that was written at the time of the Punic Wars is now lost. But through careful research and some of his own rational thinking, Kane fills in the gaps of history perfectly in this book, making it excellent to read.

I would suggest this book to anyone who is a fan of Roman fiction and likes authors such as Simon Scarrow, Anthony Riches and Conn Iggulden. As I said above, it is different from these novels as it is written from the ‘enemy of Rome’s’ perspective but it still has the immense quality that these novels have.  Brilliant book, can’t wait for Kane to bring out its sequel!

For author’s official website click here

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