Review: The Road to Rome – Ben Kane

The Forgotten Legion 3

My version: Paperback
Genre: Historical Fiction, Rome
 Cornerstone/Arrow Books
First published: 2011
ISBN: 9781848090163
Pages: 608

From the cover:
“The dramatic climax to Ben Kane’s Forgotten Legion Trilogy
Having survived the perils of a journey across half the world, Romulus and Tarquinius are press-ganged into the legions, which are under imminent threat of annihilation by the Egyptians.
Meanwhile in Rome, Romulus’s twin sister Fabiola lives in fear for her life, loved by Brutus, but wooed by Marcus Antonius, his deadly enemy.
Soon after, Romulus fights at Zela, the vicious battle where Caesar famously said, ‘Veni, vidi, vici’. Tarquinius, separated from Romulus in the chaos of war, hides in Alexandria, searching for guidance. But mortal danger awaits them both.
From the battlefields of Asia Minor and North Africa, to the lawless streets of Rome and the gladiator arena, they face death daily, until on the Ides of March, the twins are reunited and must decide either to back or to betray Caesar on his day of destiny.”

Why do all good things have to come to an end?

Who said that?

They need a slap. And they need to read The Forgotten Legion trilogy. If ever there was a book you didn’t want to end, it’s this one. If ever there was a series you didn’t want to end, it is The Forgotten Legion trilogy. Couldn’t we convince Ben that ‘trilogy’ actually means ‘four’, or ‘five’, or…well, you get the picture.

Here and now, The Road to Rome is, of course, the culmination of Ben Kane‘s Forgotten Legion trilogy and I don’t know if the good Dr. Kane would agree with me, but I’m going to argue that he’s saved the best till last.

I raced through this like a scythed chariot charge through massed Roman lines…I tried hard to pace myself, but failed miserably. You see, right from the very first few pages, we are thrown headlong into a pulsating, action-packed and thoroughly inspiring tale (it inspired me to get on the net and order the Hannibal series, for example). A delightfully well plotted tale of betrayal, love and loss, high politics and low revenge. And, of course, the Kane speciality; nerve-tingling set-piece battles and desperate, one-on-one, do or die struggles. He really is a master of both. Whether it’s marshalling Caesars forces in huge mixed-troop battles across Africa, or focusing in, laser-like, on grim, no way out thuggery in the backstreets of Rome, Ben can surely have few equals. You feel so much like you’re there, I very nearly had to wipe the blood off my hands on a couple of occasions.

While it had been a while since I was last on campaign with The Forgotten Legion and have read several other – excellent as well as not so excellent – novels set in the same Roman period Ben’s story is set, as soon as I was a couple of pages into The Road to Rome, I was bang! Back in the Legion’s ranks again and was never in a moment’s doubt who was who and why and where they were doing what they were doing. I think that speaks very highly of the strong, well-defined characters and thoroughly involving story Ben has created. I really did feel like I had just finished #2 – the characters were so immediately fresh and vital again, rather than it being a year or so since I read The Silver Eagle. And, if you’ve been fortunate enough to have read The Forgotten Legion and The Silver Eagle, you’ll be glad to know that (mostly) all the various themes and threads from those previous two books, are gathered together and brought to satisfyingly satisfactory conclusions. Though, did I detect, a door left slightly ajar for a possible return to the story in the future? Or is that just wishful thinking?

The Road to Rome really is packed full of action, adventure, intrigue, action, adventure, Roman politicking, action and – some more adventure!

Wow! What more could you wish for from a novel, apart from more?

You can buy The Road To Rome from The Book Depository

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