Plot: Hannibal is invading Italy. Among his soldiers is Hanno, the third son of one of Hannibal’s biggest supporters. But Hanno knows not all Romans are the enemy. Sold into slavery, an unlikely friendship complicates battles and a forbidden love threatens everything he is fighting for.
On the other side, Quintus refuses to sit idly by while the war passes him by. He will fight for his home and for Rome, even if he has to take risks that would see him killed ten times over. But his pride isn’t the only thing at stake and Quintus will not surrender.
Quote: `He’s a veteran, for Jupiter’s sake! He should have been able to thrash the living daylights out of you, not get stabbed in the damn foot. The whipping might teach him not to be so fucking useless.`
Opinion: Having read some Ben Kane before, I knew I was developing a taste for his novels. Not just his writing style, but the era his work is set in as well. This trilogy was no exception. The blend between `normal` language and phrases from those times reveals his knowledge of the time period and helps the reader become involved with the trilogy.
All three books are as intense and gripping as each other. I couldn’t pick out a favourite. All three had moments that made me laugh out loud – the quote is from the second book and caught me by surprise – and all three had moments of sadness or deaths that had me yelling at the pages. Kane knows how to keep his readers in suspense and blend these moments effortlessly so the death and destruction taking place never becomes too overwhelming.
All the books have a split narration between Hanno, Quintus and Aurelia. The technique is effective, especially throughout battles because it increases the tension switching narrations at a crucial point. All three characters also develop in their own right and the reader is taken on the journey to adulthood with them all. As all three are likeable, it’s extremely difficult to predict how you want the trilogy to end because someone has to be on the losing side.
The language in the books gets progressively worse as the trilogy continues in regards to profanities. However, Kane never over uses them to the point of irritation. Considering the tension is increased throughout the books, the change in language works. The characters are not the naïve children they were at the beginning, but battle-hardened soldiers who have seen and been through things from their worst nightmares.
The only let-down point was the ending. There were a few things I wanted to see happen to round it off and give it a close and Kane denies the reader these. When it involves a much-loved character, it feels like a disappointment. However, I found this point with his other trilogy as well – Kane leaves them open. Perhaps in case of more? It is the only annoying point in an extremely well written trilogy.