The Forgotten Legion by Ben Kane is an epic. The story takes place in ancient Rome at the time of Julius Caesar and I found it to be a great tale, like The Walking Drum or Ben Hur. We are fully immersed into Rome and its culture, and get to see it through the eyes of the slaves and the conquered.
We follow four people in this saga: Tarquinius is a free Etruscan and warrior as well as the last haruspex trained in the forgotten arts of divination. Brennus, a Gaul from the Allobreges tribe, is taken in the battle against the Roman army and he survives, only to be sold as a slave to a gladiator school. Last but not least are the slave twins Romulus and Fabiola. Shortly after they hit puberty, they are sold; Romulus goes to a gladiator school and Fabiola to a brothel.
The four individuals were apparently picked to help showcase the author’s knowledge of this period in Roman history. This fact worked to the book’s advantage since I really felt as if I was visiting with the characters. While the story was good and I could not put the book down, the plot was pretty basic and telegraphed itself in many places. Then again, I was not worried where we were going on our trip, just how we were going to get there. If I may say so, it was a rather picturesque journey.
Overall, I found The Forgotten Legion to be a fascinating read, and eagerly followed the characters through their lives as they struggled for survival, respect and if they were lucky, revenge. The Forgotten Legion is the first in a trilogy and the way it ended, I suspect that it was originally a larger novel and was later split into three parts. I can hardly wait for to get my hands on the next installment, The Silver Eagle.
Caleb is a software engineer and amateur woodworker living in southern Minnesota. He has more hobbies than he has time or money for, and enjoys his quiet time reading.
This book was provided free of any obligation by St. Martin’s Press. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.