Aside from passing mentions in other Roman era fiction, this is my first in depth encounter with the Alpine traversing, pachyderm using scourge of Rome since I saw the movie Hannibal starring Victor Mature back in the late 1950’s. This is not, however, my first encounter with the author Ben Kane having read his marvelous Forgotten Legion series.
The story here, while having many storylines filled with intrigue, revolves around two young men. Hanno is the son of a prominent officer in Hannibal’s army, while Quintus is the son of an equestrian class Roman. Through deft maneuvering of plot, the two are brought together midst the growing tension between Rome and Carthage.
Among all of the fascinating aspects to this story is the way the author subjects the main backdrop, i.e. Rome versus Carthage, to the various inter-personal conflicts that many of the characters are dealing with. Conflicts of loyalty not only to one’s home and leaders but conflicts of intense loyalty to one’s family and friends.
Another of the many aspects that stands out is how the author brings you into the action whether it be a coming of age bear hunt or the momentous crossing of The Alps. You can feel the breath of the bear as it fights for it’s life and the agony of the men and animals following Hannibal on that long and dangerous venture.
This is a riveting tale guaranteed to leave you wanting more from this gifted writer. Well, you need not worry along those lines as the sequel is out and ready to draw you further into the lives of the characters and the struggle for the supremacy of the Mediterranean world. Well done, Mr. Kane.