Sunday, June 10, 2012

Review: Spartacus The Gladiator (Blog Tour)

Title Spartacus The Gladiator
By Ben Kan
Genre Historical Fiction
Pages 448
Recommended by Me

First sentence When the village came into sight at the top of a distant hill, a surging joy filled him.

Synopsis
Spartacus has returned, after escaping from life as an auxiliary in the Roman army. But he quickly falls foul of his overlord, the Thracian king, who has set his heart on Dionysian priestess, Ariadne -- later to become wife of Spartacus. Betrayed again to the Romans by his jealous king, Spartacus -- and with him Ariadne -- are taken in captivity to the school of gladiators at Capua. It is here -- against the unbelievable brutality of gladiatorial life -- that Spartacus and Crixus the Gaul plan the audacious overthrow of their Roman masters, escaping to Vesuvius, where they recruit and train a huge slave army -- an army which will keep the might of Rome at bay for two years and create one of the most extraordinary legends in history.  (From Goodreads) 


What it has going for it
I read and enjoyed Ben Kane's Forgotten Legion Chronicles  during the past few years so when I was offered a chance to participate in the blog tour of his new book, Spartacus, I was excited. I don't, or didn't, know squat about Spartacus. I haven't even seen the famous Kubrick film, so this was my first foray into getting to know him. I have to give a shout out to the author for writing historical fiction that gets you invested in the characters. I love learning history without realizing I'm actually learning something. ;) The fighting scenes, whilst very violent, are always my favorite. Kane gets you invested enough in a character's well being that when said character is thrown into a battle you're left gripping the book a little too firmly hoping that character survives. My favorite character was, no, not Spartacus, but Carbo. He was, as far as I could tell, not based on a real person but I loved him. I'm very interested to see where the author takes this character. See, we already know what happens to Spartacus, or least you will after reading this book, but the author could do anything with Carbo and I'm dying to know what?! All in all, a fun read with great battle scenes and characters worth caring about.

What's lacking
Since this book was about Spartacus I wanted to like him better. His story felt a little too check list of historical events. Make sense? Till halfway through I didn't know there was a going to be a second book, or, for that matter, that Spartacus doesn't make it. I still don't know whether he's killed or just captured but I can guess. (I repeat, I know squat about Spartacus) Needless to say finding out both those things in the middle of a book can be a bit of a let down but, I digress, that's not really a reflection on the book.

Favorite moment
When Carbo gets the girl!

Yea or Nay?
This book, and all of Kane's books, are very violent. They aren't for the faint of heart. But if you can handle the violence and learning while enjoying a good read then, yes, I'd recommend it.

 Ben Kane was born in Kenya and raised there and in Ireland. He studied veterinary medicine at University College Dublin but after that he travelled the world extensively, indulging his passion for ancient history. Now he lives in North Somerset, where he researches, writes and practises as a small animal vet. The Forgotten Legion, born of a lifelong fascination with military history in general, and Roman history in particular, is his first novel. (From Goodreads) 


 My thanks to St Martin's Press for a review copy of this book.

32 comments:

  1. I'm very glad that you liked it, Jenny. Thanks for your review!

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    1. You're welcome. Thanks for letting me review it.

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  2. Thanks so much for taking part in the tour. I'm glad you enjoyed the book.

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  3. Have to admit that I don't know squat about Spartacus either, but love learning history during a good story! Think it might be a little violent for me though, but enjoyed your review!

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    1. I agree. Learning while reading a good story is great.

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  4. One of my favorite things about historical fiction is learning neat little tidbits from the time period -- the sort you wouldn't find in a history book, you know? Sounds like this book has lots of them. I have an easier time with violence in fiction than in movies, so I don't think that would bother me too much.

    Great review!

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    1. The violence is pretty graphic but it doesn't bother me in books as much as movies.

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  5. "I am Spartacus!!"

    Okay, I'm done. But that was my first thought...even though I've never seen the movie either.

    I'm glad you enjoyed the book for the most part! I don't really know anything about Spartacus either. The violence might be a bit much for me...not sure.

    I do want to read more historical fiction though. :)

    -Lauren

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    1. LOL! I thought the same thing while reading.

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  6. I haven't been big on historical, but I feel like this series might be the one for me when I go on my eventual historical kick. Thanks for sharing. :) I can handle violence and I really like learning without realizing it.

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    1. Historical fiction is hit or miss with me. I have to be interested in the history, though.

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  7. Wow!! This seems great!! It reminds me of the movie 300... WE ARE SPARTA!! :P Great post, Jenny! <3

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    1. LOL, yeah it was a little like 300.

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  8. Hi there!
    Thank you for following me at Dragonscale Clippings.
    Just wanted to let you know that I've moved my blog to: -
    http://dragonscaleclippings.wordpress.com
    Hope to see you there soon!
    Much love
    Freya
    xxx

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  9. Sounds like an interesting book. I'll have to look it up. And, all I have to say to the violence is "YES!" ;)

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    1. LOL! So you like the violence, huh? ;)

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  10. Thanks for all the comments - and I hope you all get to read and enjoy the book!
    Best wishes.

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  11. Sounds like a fun one! So glad you were able to do this blog tour! I wish I could manage to fit the rest of the first series. They are on the pile!

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    1. Yes, "the pile". :) We all have one of those.

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  12. I'm always a bit hesitant to read anything historical because in a sense you already know what's going to happen. To this day, I still haven't seen gladiator! Having said that, I do really love gory action and I don't know anything about Spartacus it'll just be a story to me!

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    1. Exactly. It was much more like a story for me because I didn't know anything about the history.

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  13. Sounds really interesting and adventurous. I feel like we've switched modes, here. I'm reading mostly YA, at the moment. :)

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    1. LOL! Well, maybe we needed the switch up.

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  14. I love books with historical settings! And this Carbo character sounds fascinating! Great review :)

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    1. He was interesting. I want to know what happens to him.

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  15. I'm fascinated by ancient history but I'm not sure how I'd feel about reading a book set then. I'm all for violence in films/tv but for some reason find it quite difficult to read if it's particularly graphic. I do like learning stuff from reading fiction tho! Enjoyed your review Jenny

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    1. Yeah, I'm more visual so if violence bothers me at all it's in movies or tv but this book was pretty violent.

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  16. This book sounds interesting. I know who Spartacus was and how he ended, but other than History books I haven't read anything about him.
    Graphic violence doesn't bother me. More like the opposite.
    Ancient Rome + violence = something I want to read.

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    1. We don't read a ton of books in common. But for once I read something I think you might like.

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  17. @Suey @Lan @Bookfool @Natalie @Cait @Hellen: If you get to read it, I hope you enjoy it!

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