Monday, May 27, 2013

REVIEW: Spartacus: Rebellion by Ben Kane

Synopsis: Spartacus has already done the impossible—not only has he escaped from slavery, he and his seconds have created a mighty slave army that has challenged Rome and defeated the armies of three praetors, two consuls, and one proconsul. On the plain of the River Po, in modern Northern Italy, Spartacus has defeated Gaius Cassius Longinus, proconsul and general of an army of two legions. Now the road home lies before them—to Thrace for Spartacus, and to Gaul for his seconds-in-command, Castus and Gannicus.

But storm clouds are gathering on the horizon. One of Spartacus's most powerful generals has defected, taking his men with him. Back in Rome, the immensely rich Marcus Licinius Crassus is gathering an unheard-of Army. The Senate has given Crassus an army made up of ten legions and the authority to do whatever it takes to end the slave rebellion once and for all. Meanwhile, Spartacus wants to lead his men over the Alps and home, but his two seconds have a different plan. They want to march on Rome itself and bring the Republic to its knees. Rebellion has become war. War to the death. 

My Thoughts: How fitting that on Memorial Day this combat veteran gets to review a book about one of the greatest military tacticians to ever take on the Roman Army.  In Ben Kane's first installment we meet Spartacus as he breaks free of the gladiatorial ludus and amasses an Army which soundly beats the Roman Legions multiple times against all odds (read the review here).  In Rebellion we continue the journey with Spartacus as his Army continues to grow and he strives to lead them permanently from Italy and away from the reach of Rome forever.  He encounters many obstacles along the way in addition to battling the fearsome Legions, including dealing with self serving Gaul leaders Castus and Gannicus who are tired of taking a back seat to the much revered Spartacus.  Rome finally wearies of taking a beating at the hands of "mere slaves" and leaves the slave problem in the hands of  former General and politician Crassus-a ruthless man determined to win at all costs.  He may just be the one who stops Spartacus and his followers in their tracks.

I really enjoyed the first novel with its abundance of action and the charismatic underdog Spartacus to root for.  I think I liked this one even more.  This book focused more on character development as we the reader get to see the cracks in Spartacus' armor (so to speak) and I really liked seeing the lives of my favorite characters from the first novel explored in greater depth.  Both the lives of Spartacus and his Soldiers in their massive Army camp and adventures in the streets of Rome were brought to life in great detail.  This book kept my interest all the way through.  Most know how the Spartacus story ends but I was flipping madly through the pages to see how the author would tie everything together and I was not disappointed.  Every once in awhile I get the urge to leave behind the world of courtly intrigue and royal themed books that are prevalent in historical fiction and sink into something that is more gritty and entertaining from start to finish.  This is exactly the kind of book I go for when those moods strike me.  I really liked the writing here and was sad to end my journey with Spartacus.  Luckily, I will be able to satisfy my urge for a good war novel with Ben Kane's take on Hannibal.  I hope I love those as much as the Spartacus books.

 This book was provided to me by the publisher via NetGalley for participation in the author's tour with Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours.  These are my honest thoughts on the book.

For more reviews, giveaways, interviews, and guests posts with author Ben Kane you can view the rest of the tour schedule HERE.

About the Author:

Ben Kane was born in Kenya and raised there and in Ireland. He qualified as a veterinary surgeon from University College Dublin, and worked in Ireland and the UK for several years. After that he travelled the world extensively, indulging his passion for seeing the world and learning more about ancient history. Seven continents and more than 65 countries later, he decided to settle down, for a while at least.

While working in Northumberland in 2001/2, his love of ancient history was fuelled by visits to Hadrian's Wall. He naïvely decided to write best s
elling Roman novels, a plan which came to fruition after several years of working full time at two jobs - being a vet and writing. Retrospectively, this was an unsurprising development, because since his childhood, Ben has been fascinated by Rome, and particularly, its armies. He now lives in North Somerset with his wife and family, where he has sensibly given up veterinary medicine to write full time.

To find out more about Ben and his books visit


  1. I have something by Ben Kane on my kindle for ipad- I bought it on sale and I suspect I'll be hooked once I read it and load up on more of his books. I just need to settle down and read!

  2. I'm going to have to get Kane's books now -- I'm not totally wild about military-heavy fiction so your mentioning the 'cracks' we see in Spartacus is quite appealing!

  3. Thanks for a great review, Holly!

    @Susan: Thanks, and I do hope that you become hooked! ;-)

    @Audra: I hope that you enjoy the books if you do get to read them.

    Best wishes