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Spartacus: The Gladiator [Paperback]

Ben Kane
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
Price: CDN$ 22.00 & FREE Shipping on orders over CDN$ 25. Details
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Book Description

Feb. 6 2012
The first of two epic novels which tell the story of one of the most charismatic heroes history has ever known -- Spartacus, the gladiator slave who took on and nearly defeated the might of Rome, during the years 73-71 BC.
In historical terms we know very little about Spartacus the man -- partly because most contemporary Roman historians were keen to obliterate his memory and prevent him from attaining mythic status. This of course is grist to the novelist's mill. Ben Kane's brilliant novel begins in the Thracian village to which Spartacus has returned, after escaping from life as an auxiliary in the Roman army. But here 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. Spartacus: The Gladiator takes the story up to the moment when the slave army has inflicted its first great defeat on Rome.

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Product Details

Product Description


"Gritty, passionate and violent, this thrilling book is a real page-turner and a damn good read. It brings Spartacus -- and ancient Rome -- to vivid, colourful life." -- Steven Pressfield, bestselling author of Gates of Fire

About the Author

BEN KANE was born in Kenya and raised there and in Ireland. He studied veterinary medicine and University College, Dublin, but after that he travelled the world extensively, indulging in his passion for ancient history. He lives in North Somerset with his wife and two young children.

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Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Loved this book! July 14 2012
By Karoline TOP 500 REVIEWER
Curses to my old age, I wanted to keep reading but my eyes just couldn't stay open. That's how good it was. It was filled with action, a bit of love on the side, but well written that I now have to go look for other books by Ben Kane to keep reading them. They're just THAT good.

Spartacus was good, and well written, the plot was well done and the action scenes were fun to read, and filled with blood that you'd expect in a novel such as this (not as gory as the TV show, thankfully.) Characters are also well done here. Although I'm biased towards Crixus. That's because I've watched the show before jumping this this book (both are not related, and have nothing to do with each other!) and I hated him from the start, so that polluted my opinion of the Crixus in the book. Although I'd have to say, he's still not likable and extremely abrasive as you'd expect.

I like the relationship between Ariadne and Spartacus. Ariadne was like the strong, but silent supporter of Spartacus and I liked the role she played (snake as a secret weapon??? that's just awesome!) in the novel. She was like the other half of Spartacus and they both fit well together. Spartacus himself was also fun to read, and with his personality done in the book it's no wonder others were willing to follow him. He had all the qualities to become a leader of an uprising. The villains in the book were also well done and so hateful you feel like jumping in and throttling them. Ariadne though, had a great way of fighting back at one of them which I enjoyed reading immensely.

The historical aspect of the book was pretty good, although I'm not quite familiar with how accurate it is. The author's note at the end was very informative and helped.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.2 out of 5 stars  38 reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read! Jan. 28 2012
By Aristotle S Spencer - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I have read all of Ben Kane's books and have thoroughly enjoyed them all but, I have to admit that this novel would have to be his best. Therefore I am delighted that there will be a sequel out later this year.

The story of Spartacus is well known with numerous books published over the years and augmented by movies and more recently the TV series Spartacus: Blood and Sand and also the prequel Gods of the Arena. It's a story that captures people's imagination that an individual sold into slavery, sent to train as a gladiator to please the crowd could escape and challenge the very might of the Roman Republic.

Ben Kane does a brilliant job in bringing to life the character of Spartacus. He has inserted a considerable amount of historical information into the storyline and has tempered it with a fine balance of fictional input to produce a very enjoyable and believable novel.

The novel is full of action, conflict, romance, enmity and much more . Reading it has been most rewarding.
15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Violence! War! Swords! Kissing! Interested yet? July 11 2012
By anaavu - Published on
Originally posted on my blog: [...]

I have to say that although I like historical fiction, I've read very few novels like Spartacus: The Gladiator. Ben Kane combines extensive knowledge about the period with a fast-paced, daring writing style, a strong, fierce hero and a powerful plot. You can tell he's an experienced writer with his confident writing - the action scenes could be easily understood, the romance was short and sweet and the characterization remained constant. I loved how Ben Kane took the widely known facts about Spartacus a step further by adding all these details that truly make the story believable and worthwhile.

Spartacus' arrogant attitude but caring personality shines through in every word Kane writes - from the first killing of the thieves to saving the priestess Ariadne from the kings' guards even though he could have been killed in the process. I didn't always like Spartacus because of his brashness and unemotional nature but nevertheless, he was a very well-rounded and well-developed character.

All in all, this novel was a very entertaining read and I can't wait to see more of Spartacus. Although I may not have read much in this genre, I can say with confidence that Ben Kane can be counted among the famous authors in literary merit. When it comes to historical fiction, Kane is a master!

P.S. I also recommend watching the TV show Spartacus along with this book and its sequel (not out yet).

Word of Warning: This novel is for people interested in historical fiction, especially about Spartacus. At 480 pages, it is definitely not an easy, fast read. There are violent scenes (though not at all unnecessary or gross) and rape scenes and profanity is prevalent throughout, so you should know what you're getting into if you read this book.

I received a complimentary copy as part of a blog tour in exchange for an honest review.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I loved this book…I really did. Feb. 8 2014
By Erica L Jordan - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Spartacus the Gladiator is a brilliant retelling of a story we've all heard before, but can't seem to get enough of. The novel is rich in historical detail and the characters really come to life, they weren’t just words on a page. Spartacus was my friend and his enemies were my enemies. The book wasn’t so much about Spartacus as a gladiator, as it was about his life as a warrior and the battles he and his men fought against the undefeated legionaries. He was an enemy of Rome and a force to be reckoned with. It was about the thousands of men that joined him in the fight and the relentless training they endured. I am looking forward to reading the sequel. I'd recommend this book to any fan of Spartacus and Ancient Rome.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars old story, well retold! July 30 2012
By david l. poremba - Published on
In the hands of a master storyteller, an old story can be retold with vigor, historical detail and good characterization. This new version of "Spartacus" is a Roman Army veteran sold into slavery as a gladior, escaping and eventually leading his own army in revolt against Rome. The characterization is well done as hardly any of the men are perfect. Even Spartacus has his demons and the men in his army are also on the lookout for plunder and profit. The battle scenes are extremely well done - reflecting the chaos of combat. Can't wait for the next installment.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Real Spartacus July 22 2012
By plane - Published on
Spartacus was a little known individual living in the first century BC. He rated a few lines in history texts due to the fact that he led a revolt against the might of Rome, and for a time unified a large force of slaves and gladiators escaping from captivity. Howard Fast wrote a novel about him in the 1950s upon which a film also entitled "Spartacus" and starring Kirk Douglas at the height of his career vaulted this individual into prominence. Recently a TV show again featured the character although this was filled with more distortions than any actual fact. Ben Kane has taken this a giant step forward and written a very engrossing novel about Spartacus which he admits in an afterwards to the book is based upon as much source material as is available, but does admit to taking some liberties with the facts.

He begins with Spartacus returning from eight years of service in the Roman army to his home in Thrace ( part of Greece), being sold into slavery by a man taking his family's estates and killing his father. Spartacus is sold to the owner of a school of gladiators where he sharpens his fighting skills, develops his leadership qualities and meets his future wife (girl friend). Mr Kane admits that there may not actually have been a female companion, but does create a woman that is a high priestess and gives Spartacus more credibility with the men he comes to lead.

An escape from the school is successful and Spartacus with the help of leaders of other nationalities in captivity with him flees to nearby mount Vesuvius. A Roman army unit sent to subdue these revolutionaries is defeated via the tactics planned by Spartacus. As a result of the victory over the Romans, other slaves are encouraged to escape, join the first group and over time swell the force to more than 40,000 people. The novel takes Spartacus and his army to a point where they leave Vesuvius, defeat ever larger troop concentrations sent by Rome to kill them, and get ready to plan their next moves. Mr Kane indicates that he is already at work on a sequel due out in late 2012 which should bring Spartacus and his army to the conclusion that history indicated was their fate.

This is not a dry history tome, but a very interesting novel based on what Mr Kane wishes to bring out about a fascinating real person living and acting two thousand years ago. Characters have conversations and feelings which probably have a basis in what really happened. Descriptions of the battles are very graphic as is the aftermath of these combats in the towns and cities that suffer through them. A very good read with no problem anxiously awaiting the sequel.
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