Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Road to Rome: A Novel of the Forgotten Legion by Ben Kane

The Road to Rome: A Novel of the Forgotten Legion

The Road to Rome: A Novel of the Forgotten Legion by Ben Kane

The blurb:
In 48 B.C., having survived a disastrous campaign in Pythia as part of the Forgotten Legion and spent years fighting their way back to Rome, Romulus and Tarquinius have finally made it as far as Alexandria.  On arrival, though, they find themselves in the midst of the Roman Civil War, when they're press ganged into Caesar's thinning legions, greatly outnumbered and fighting for their lives against the Egyptian army.  Meanwhile in Rome, Romulus's twin sister, Fabiola, having caught only a glimpse of her long-missing twin before being forced to flee Egypt for Rome, lives in fear for her life, loved by Brutus but wooed by Marcus Antonius, his deadly enemy.

From the battlefields of Asia Minor and North Africa to the lawless streets of Rome and the gladiator arena, they all face death and danger daily, until 44 B.C. when their individual roads all lead them to the Senate floor on the Ides of March, where the future of the republic lies unexpectedly in their hands.

You'll need to read each of the books in Forgotten Legion series in order.  Ben Kane creates complex characters that undergo incredible trials.  As they escape death and tempt fate, the lead characters are forced to give up things that they hold dear. 

The twins Fabiola and Romulus are children of a slave woman who was raped by high ranking Roman citizen.  The twins never know who their father is but hold a deep anger and hatred towards him for the pain inflicted on their mother.  They're exceptionally good looking and strong willed - traits that serve them well and bring them considerable pain.  As slaves, their owner raises them and disposes of them in the most profitable way possible:  Romulus is sold to a ludus and is forced into the life of a gladiator.  Fabiola is sold to a brothel.

Romulus is quick, smart, and strong. He finds a good friend in the ludus and when fate forces them to run away, they escape together and join the Roman legion.  Though they face death on the battlefield, their greatest danger comes from their past.  An escaped slave faces death by crucifixion.   Romulus does well on the battlefield, he takes to strategy and leadership quickly.   While he proves his strengths, his past still serves as his greatest weakness.

Fabiola learns quickly the rules of the brothel.   Her owner and the patrons hold her life in their hands, but it's the jealous competitors that pose the greatest threat.  As Fabiola uses her beauty and cunning to win over powerful lovers, she is ruthless in her ambitions.  Life in the brothel is as deadly as the battlefield and Fabiola is willing to attack first.  Her experiences leave deep scars.  Only the dream of revenge and of reuniting with her brother keep Fabiola intact.

This third book in the Forgotten Legion series covers Fabiola's deep hatred of Julius Caesar and her conviction that he is their natural father.  Fabiola is driven by the desire for revenge.  She makes alliances and takes on "clients" towards this end.  Even Romulus and her lover Brutus are unable to dissuade her from her goal.  Fabiola works to kill Julius Caesar while Romulus is committed to defending him.   Rome, Caesar and the twins speed towards tragedy.

In The Road to Rome, Ben Kane combines considerable detail on Roman life with a deep and fascinating drama.  As Romulus becomes more of a traditional hero,  Fabiola is a much darker and less sympathetic character in this third novel.   Romulus's bravery and loyalty are finally recognized and he's given the chance to shine.  As Romulus becomes a Roman citizen and declares his deepest allegiance to Rome and her ideals.  Fabiola remains focused on her family's tragedy and her need for revenge - at the cost of the people that she loves.  Overall, The Road To Rome is another satisfying addition to Ben Kane's  Lost Legion series.  I highly recommend it to fans of historical fiction and adventure.

ISBN-10: 0312536739 - Hardcover $26.99
Publisher: St. Martin's Press; Reprint edition (March 29, 2011), 528 pages.
Review copy provided by the publisher.

About the Author:
Ben Kane is the author of The Forgotten Legion and The Silver Eagle prevous novels in the Forgotten Legion Chronicles.  He has traveled widely and is a lifelong student of military history.  He lives in North Somerset, Wngland, with his wife and children.

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