Reviewed by Caleb Shadis
Ben Kane has already written incredible books set in ancient Rome, a trilogy called The Forgotten Legion which I greatly enjoyed. So when I had the opportunity to read his latest project, I was very happy to take it. I was not disappointed: Kane has told another great story, this time about one of the most famous people of ancient Rome after the Emperors – Spartacus the Gladiator.
We meet Spartacus on his way home after being released from the Roman legions. He’s been away for over seven years and comes home to find things have changed, for the worse. His family has been murdered and a tyrant has taken the throne. He enters the gates in time to prevent some of the king’s guards from abducting a Priestess for less than religious reasons.
Before long Spartacus is sold to a slaver that specializes in Gladiators. This is where more people will be familiar with his story. What surprised me was the short amount of time that was dedicated to Spartacus’ life while he was a Gladiator. There is a good lead up to his arrival at the arena, and then while tensions are still building, the plan to escape materializes. It seemed a little abrupt but the story did get very interesting from that point on.
Overall, I really enjoyed Spartacus: The Gladiator and would highly recommend it to people who like reading about ancient Rome. A bit of a warning: this book has quite a bit of violence and sometimes it gets pretty explicit. Many readers may have an issue with the rape scenes. While likely fairly accurate, they can still be disturbing.
Kane is an excellent storyteller and he knows how to keep you glued to your seat, wanting to know what is going to happen next. One thing I have to say about him though is that he invests a lot of effort into his characters and has a tendency to ‘protect’ them. What I didn’t know about the story when I picked it up is that it was going to be a two book set – I thought where Spartacus: The Gladiator stopped was actually a great ending place.
Also by Ben Kane:
Caleb is a software engineer and amature woodworker living in southern Minnesota. He has more hobbies than he has time or money for, and enjoys his quiet time reading.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by St. Martin’s Press. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.