Spartacus: The Gladiator: Spartacus 1 Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
Warrior. As winter approaches in 74 BC, few travellers are abroad. But one man is making the long and weary last stage of his way home. Large parts of his homeland, Thrace, a land north of Greece, has fallen under the hated power of Rome. This Thracian has fought in the Roman legions for nearly a decade. He is skilled, hardened in battle, a sophisticated fighter. Spartacus.
Slave. But home is no longer the safe haven of his imagination. A new king sits on the throne. Treacherous and cunning, he has seized the crown by murder and he will hold onto it by violence. When a Roman slave trader comes to the village in search of men who will fight as gladiators, Spartacus is betrayed and sold. His odyssey has begun.
Hero. The legend that is Spartacus has come down to us through the centuries - the story of a man who took on the might of Rome and nearly brought her down. Now Ben Kane, the brilliant author of The Forgotten Legion and Hannibal: Enemy of Rome, brings to glorious life the first part of the Spartacus story.
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|Listening Length||17 hours and 43 minutes|
|Whispersync for Voice||Ready|
|Audible.com.au Release Date||19 January 2012|
|Publisher||Random House AudioBooks|
|Best Sellers Rank|| 54,590 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals) |
929 in War & Military Fiction
1,453 in Historical Military Fiction
3,288 in War Fiction (Books)
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Top review from Australia
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Consisting of only two parts, Spartacus is the best place to get into Ben Kane, if you are a fan of Historic Fiction and/ or Ancient Rome his books are a must. and I highly recommend him as an author.
Top reviews from other countries
As usual Ben creates a host of credible supporting characters, and the ones who need three dimensions generally get them). These include a partner for Spartacus, Ariadne, a priestess of Dionysus, and an assortment of Romans, Thracians, Gauls, Scythians. Ben’s meticulous research means he gets the facts right about a wide range of national/ethnic groups in terms of dress, weaponry, customs and religions.
Warning: this edition closes with an excerpt from the sequel, so don’t dip into it if you’ve already decided you want to read the follow-up. I’m going to.
This story starts in 74 BC, and we find Spartacus, originally from Thrace, after having fought for a decade in the Roman Legions, he's ready to settle down in his native Thrace, but due to a new treacherous and violent King, Spartacus is seized and sold to a Roman slave trader.
And so Spartacus is on his way back again to Rome to enter the arena and becoming a gladiator, fighting for life and death.
During his time in the arena his hate for Rome will increase, and little by little he's looking out for an opportunity to start a rebellion for freedom.
What is to follow is a thrilling and captivating Roman adventure, in which the legendary Spartacus come very much alive in this Roman Republic world of corruption and cruelty, and which is brought to us by the author in a most fantastic and believable fashion.
Highly recommended, for this is a great first episode of this wonderful two-part series, and that's why I like to call this tale: "A Spectacular Spartacus Start"!
Eventually he makes many friends in the school and persuades them to join him in escaping their prison and fates when he learns of a plot for the entire school to be put forward as fodder for an extravaganza Arena match whereby in all likelihood all will perish. He exposes this to the others and starts a rebellion that gains him his freedom from the gladiator school, however, he cannot rest easy as he knows from his experience in the legionnaires that the Romans will not tolerate slaves of Rome escaping and killing their masters, they will try to catch them and make an example. This book shows how with only his wits and a plan of action he grows one of the most powerful armies ever seen and not only defies the Roman armies but conquers and annihilates them in battle. He must fight for his life and that of his family.
There are lots of in depth descriptions and details throughout the book and the flow of the story is not only gripping but keeps the reader absorbed in the story. A must read for any Ben Kane fans.
The book starts with his return from serving with Rome's legions to his home where he is subsequently betrayed and sold into slavery. We then follow him back to Italy where he is forced to fight in the arena for the amusement of others. We are not left in any doubt about the barbarity of this 'sport'. From here, it is totally understandable where the hatred Spartacus and the other slaves feel for their Roman masters originates. He is joined by some fascinating characters, both from the Ludus and following their escape which all bring new dimensions to the story. Most of them are loyal, others would gladly see Spartacus dead with a knife in his back. This helps increase the tension further as you are never sure when the next act of treachery or in-fighting will erupt next. You become aware how precarious Spartacus' position was for most of the time and therefore how even more magnificent his story is, I suspect we all had this image of Spartacus leading his slave army and everyone gladly following him. The battle scenes, as is typical with Ben's books, are detailed, authentic accounts of what we do know of them. The sacks of towns captured by the slaves for me were the hardest parts to read. Ben brilliantly describes what occurred without being overly gratuitous, you are certainly not misled about these events being glorified or romanticized. Revenge takes on a new meaning.
I can not recommend this book highly enough. It is supremely well researched, very detailed throughout and nigh on impossible to forget about in a hurry. Once more, Ben Kane has set the mark for how to write books very high indeed.
I've been a fan of Ben's writing from the start. His Forgotten Legion series was groundbreaking in a number of ways and quite astounding as a debut. I was then fairly stunned by Hannibal, which I consider to be one of the finest pieces of ancient Historical fiction written. Despite the high quality of FL, Hannibal showed a new maturity in writing and more depth of character and soul.
So on to Spartacus. I won't say, for the record, that this series is better than Ben's Hannibal (and its future sequels.) It is as good as Hannibal, and that's just dandy by me. I wouldn't have wanted Ben's style to change after Hannibal, as that book hit the spot just right for me. What I will say about these books is that there has been a slight change in conventions that I found refreshing and excellent (more of that shortly).
I won't say much about the plot, to be honest. Anyone who follows any review I write knows that I don't like to risk spoilers. But, that being said, the general tale of Spartacus is a matter of record that most people will have at least a basic knowledge of. So, bear in mind that you sort of know how this saga is going to end. I mean, there's only a certain amount of license a writer can realistically get away with (and Ben Kane seems to be very sparing with artistic license anyway) and to have the books end with Spartacus riding off into the sunset would be a little hard to swallow.
So prepare yourself. I spoke to Ben at the History In the Court event a few days ago and he wondered whether I'd cry at the end, given that apparently a lot of others had. Well, Ben, I have to admit to a few sneaky tears there, but to be honest there had been eye moistening for at least two chapters in anticipation...
One thing I find I have to say and it's the only thing that could be construed as criticism, I suspect, is that in both books, I actually wished they were slightly longer, despite that they were long anyway! The reasoning behind this is that the time spent in the ludus at Capua has some of the most important plot buildup of the whole story, but I felt that I would have liked to see more of the non-plot-important gladiatorial contests during that time (some are reminisced about or alluded to that I'd have liked to have read directly.) It is possible, of course, that this is my own problem fuelled by having recently watched the Spartacus series and craving such fights - bear in mind that it's almost impossible to read Spartacus without drawing certain comparisons if you've watched the series, but I'm confident these books will come out of the comparison favourably. Similarly, in the second book, a number of the smaller battles or skirmishes that are not critical are referenced only in reminiscence or conversation, and I kind of missed seeing them myself. Again, perhaps just my bloodthirsty tendencies showing through.
But on with reviewing: One thing that I particularly loved that was, if memory serves me correctly, a new convention in Ben's writing, is the regular inclusion of an `inner dialogue' for the major characters. At first I wasn't sure how I felt about this, but as the books progressed, I decided I really liked it and loved the effect it had on conversation. Often two characters will converse, but their private thoughts have a secondary conversation above them. This really gives a boost to the understanding of the motives and desires of the characters.
Another big win for me was the character of Carbo. Clearly a fictional creation, Carbo is the Yin to Spartacus's Yang in many ways and provides a counterpoint to the main star. I will say that he is in no way a sidekick or comedy relief. He is a strong protagonist in his own right, but helps to balance Spartacus. Well done for Carbo, Ben. Not only is he an important character, a plot foil, a companion and so much more, he is also the main chance the book has for any sort of positivity in the outcome.
Similarly, I loved Navio, and the portrayal of the young Caesar. On the Roman side, it is interesting to see Caesar and Crassus at this stage in their development, giving an insight into what creates the men who will exist and are portrayed in the Forgotten Legion.
Incidentally, as well as the sadness of the inevitable conclusion, there is one scene in the first book (a death scene) that I actually found worse. It was for me a harrowing read with all the soul-crushing skill of a Guy Gavriel Kay work. Fabulous in its awfulness.
In an echo of the plot construction of the Forgotten Legion, there is an overriding element of the mystical and the divine in this work which goes deeper than simply describing the attitudes of the people in the setting, but actually provides foretellings, insights, and even explanations as to the reasons for the events of the Third Servile War. One day I may well go back through these books and read them with a different mindset, going in to them with the idea that the whole string of events is somewhat defined and informed by prophecy and divine whim, rather than the straight historical viewpoint I attacked them with this time.
All in all, these two books create the deepest, most realistic and yet refreshingly different telling of the Spartacus rebellion yet. Forget Blood and Sand and Kirk Douglas. The characters here are authentic feeling and very much sympathetic, even on the Roman side. The fights and battles are up to the very high standard that fans of Ben Kane's work will have come to expect. The undertones of divine influence are subtle and yet powerful. As always, Ben appears to have meticulously researched everything and the historical accuracy of the books is as strong as I can believe it could get. There is never a let up in the story's pace or the action, and you will genuinely be as sad at the conclusion that you have no more to read as you are at the storyline itself.
It's a win on many levels. It's so sad that there's nowhere to go and the series has to end there. There could always be the possibility of a prequel, of course, since sequels are unrealistic. But anyone who watches Ben on twitter will be able to heave a sigh of relief knowing that he's working on the next Hannibal book now.