Spartacus: The Gladiator Paperback – Feb 6 2012
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"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.See all Product Description
Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
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.
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.
Not a great deal is known about Spartacus as the Roman authors don't devote a lot of time to him, presumably because he was an embarrassment to Rome. Some of the Roman sources contradict each other too. It is generally thought that Spartacus must have served time in the Roman army because of his obvious tactical skill and the book opens with him returning from the army to his village in Thrace. Here he falls foul of the Thracian king and is sold into slavery as a gladiator along with his wife, the Dionysus priestess Ariadne who has married him to escape the attentions of the Thracian king. Eventually they arrive at the Lentulus Batiatus gladiator school in Capua which is a hot bed of factions and Spartacus rapidly becomes leader of one of the main groups. The other factions are the Gauls and Germans, the main Gallic group being led by Crixus, a thoroughly nasty piece of work who although he joins up with Spartacus for the break out from the gladiator school, is a constant source of trouble for the slave revolt. The breakout from the school is realistically portrayed and the book follows the revolt until the battle of Mutina. Obviously a second book is on the way.
The characterization is generally good with Spartacus a believable leader who does, however, have some inner demons. Fictional characters, such as the disinherited Roman Carbo, are also dealt with well. The author takes the view that a lot of the slaves were just in the rebellion for plunder and Crixus is one of these. This is certainly not the virtuous slave army portrayed in the 1960 Kirk Douglas film. The historical accuracy seems to be spot on with a lot of detail about Crassus and his political dealings with Pompey.
I'm giving this 4 stars only because some of the dialogue came across as pretty wooden, particularly in the romantic scenes but Spartacus the Gladiator is still a very good read and I look forward to the next book.
I don't know about the prior but Ben Kane answers the latter with a resounding "Utique unus magis vicis carus civis , utique unus magis vicis" (at least one more time dear citizen, at least one more time)".
Either the universe loves me and wants to see me read good stories, or I've just been extremely lucky in my book selection, but I have been on a freaking tear of magnificent books since April, and Ben continues that streak. One difference however... this streak is bathed in blood. Before you read this book I must warn you of one thing. It's brutally violent. And not just the fighting; rather what goes on during the fighting and (especially, good lord) what goes on after the fighting. I'm still reeling from one scene that involved Crixis and his henchmen. So keep that in mind should you choose to venture forth.If you do indeed go on you are in for one heck of a read.
It has to be hard to write a story that has already been told. We all know, or at the very least heard of, Spartacus and his slave rebellion. The `Starz' mini-series has recently brought it back into our conscience as well. So Ben at the very least must follow Spartacus as a recent commercial success, not to mention the other books that have been written before this one.
But you know what? He does just fine. Matter of fact, he did so well that I was getting pissed at Chronos for allowing thirty minutes to only BE thirty minutes (my lunch time). For me this was easily one of those books that you really do set everything aside because it's just that damn good.
Why is it good? Well let's see... our first taste of blood comes on page, I don't know FIVE!?! As readers we know from the outside looking in that Spartacus is going to wipe the floor with the entrails of his enemies, but it's so much fun to read about these hapless individuals and think "idiots". In `Spartacus: The Gladiator' you have your historically factual characters; Spartacus, Crixus, Batiatus, Oenomaus, Gannicus, and more than a number of Romans sent to their deaths... I meant sent to fight. Ben does use creative license to tell this tale, so for you purist out there who will invariably get your tweed jackets in a knot, SHUT UP and enjoy the damn story!
Ben doesn't spend a lot of time with Spartacus in the ludus, but he does lay enough foundation to set up the rest of this story. After Spartacus and his band of gladiators escape the ludus, they set about claiming their freedom one dead legionary at a time. Wait, that's not entirely true. (*cough ahem*) "After Spartacus and his band of gladiators escape the ludus, they set about claiming their freedom ten hacked, eviscerated, screaming, eventually dead legionaries at a time". As weird as it seems that might be the easy part.
Having to deal with Crixus and his bloodthirsty followers would probably be the hard part. One issue: Spartacus must make concessions with the captured women or see his entire rebellion fall. And because of such we see enough blood lust and rapaciousness to make the Mongol Empire blush. Ben holds nothing back with the telling of these horrendous events nor does he about the battles either.
There are two main characters in this book whom I have yet to decide if I like or not though. Spartacus's woman Ariadne, and his friend Carbo. Oh don't get me wrong, they are very good in this story... I'm just not sure if I like them or not. :-) I need to read `Spartacus: Rebellion' (hell yeah there's a sequel) to make up my mind. It goes without saying that I enjoyed this book. If you've gotten this far in my review after searching for this book then do yourself a favor and buy it. Read it. Send me a thank you eMail for recommending it and send Ben a gushing eMail for writing it. He'll write you back, trust me. He's cool like that.