Sunday, June 10, 2012

Ben Kane, Author of Spartacus: The Gladiator- On Tour Book Review

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Category: Historical Fiction
Tour Dates: June 2012
Available in Print and eBook, 480 pages
Long the stuff of legends, Spartacus is known to most modern readers through the classic Kubrick film version of Howard Fast’s novel. Now bestselling historical novelist Ben Kane returns to the source material and presents a lively and compelling new vision of the man who was Spartacus—Roman army auxiliary, slave, gladiator and ultimately the leader of an army of slaves who nearly brought Rome to its knees.
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. Jealous of his attachment to Ariadne, a Dionysian priestess, the Thracian king betrays Spartacus to the Romans who take him, along with Ariadne, into captivity and to the school of gladiators at Capua.
Against the background of the unbelievable brutality of gladiatorial life, Spartacus and Crixus the Gaul plan the audacious overthrow of their Roman masters. They escape and flee to Vesuvius, where they recruit and train an army of escaped slaves that will have to face the conquerors of the known world, the most successful deadly army in all of history in a battle that will set in motion the legend that is Spartacus.
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I am a historical novel afficianado, so when I was offered a chance to read and review this book, I was interested. I have seen the very famous 1950's film, so I figured I knew how the book ended.  I hadn't realized till the end that there were going to be two books int he saga.  So I felt the book ended rather abruptly, but that was more a result of my expectations not being fulfilled.

Up to this point, I had never read anything by Ben Kane, and I did not find his writing style easy to read.  Yes, it was historically accurate.  I was glad to find the glossary in the back--I should have looked for that sooner since there were so many terms I did not know, but again, that is beside the point.

I will be honest.  I did not like the character Spartacus at all.  I wanted to like him, but he was so arrogant that I even struggled to pity his fate.  I enjoyed Ariadne, and I wish her character had been developed more.  I realize that the time period would not have been conducive to a strong emphasis on women, but it would have been nice to have known the women in the book a little bit more.  It would have given some gentleness and emotion to the book.

Personally, the fight scenes did not offend me.  The violence was graphic but not so graphic that I couldn't stomach the scenes.  Even the bedroom scenes were not really a problem.  Many details were left out, and it was nice to see that Spartacus and Ariadne had some privacy.  The rape scenes were very hard to read, but they made me realize the true plight of women during the tumultuous time in history.  I felt for the women, and I thanked God above that things are different now.  At least where I live, things are different.

I grew tired of the profanity in the book--when profanity is used outside of conversation, I do grow very tired of it, but that is not why I gave the book the 3-star rating.  For the reasons I have stated above, this book did not truly capture my attention.  Yes, it was well-written, historically accurate novel, and I believe many will find this an informative book that tells an amazing story.  I was impressed with what a group of slaves were able to accomplish.  I would have preferred a more human, emotional telling of the story, but that is just my opinion.  I do feel I learned a lot, and it still is a book that I would recommend to people who would like to learn about this time period in history.

I was sent a copy of this book in exchange for my review.  I was not financially compensated, and all opinions are 100 percent mine.

About Ben Kane:
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. He drove around the USA in a camper van, trekked the Inca trail and took a ship to Antarctica. 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 bestselling 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:
You can also find him on Twitter: @benkaneauthor and Facebook:!/benkanebooks
Be sure to come back tomorrow for a guest post and giveaway.  And if you would like to follow the entire tour, click here.


  1. Thanks so much for taking part in the tour.

  2. Yes, thanks indeed!


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