Title: The Forgotten Legion
Author: Ben Kane
Series: Forgotten Legion Chronicles #1
Publication: 2009 by Arrow Books
Genre: Historical Fiction
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An epic Roman novel which follows three men and one woman bound in servitude to the Republic.
Romulus and Fabiola are twins, born into slavery after their mother is raped by a drunken nobleman. At thirteen-years-old, they are sold — Romulus to gladiator school, Fabiola into prostitution where she will catch the eye of one of the most powerful men in Rome.
Tarquinius is an Etruscan warrior and soothsayer, and an enemy of Rome, but doomed to fight for the Republic in the Forgotten Legion. Brennus is a Gaul; the Romans killed his entire family. He rises to become one of the most famous and feared gladiators of his day — and mentor to the boy slave, Romulus, who dreams night and day of escape and revenge.
The lives of the four are bound together into a marvellous story which begins in a Rome riven by corruption, violence and politics, and ends far away at the very border of the known world.
Ben Kane is one of those authors that I discovered by accident back in 2015 when I read and reviewed a book of his that I had discovered on NetGalley. I’ve read at least one book by him every year since then and I haven’t been disappointed yet. The Forgotten Legion is a book that I randomy found in December of last year (2018) at a secondhand store. I never ever expected to find a Ben Kane book there so obviously my excitement knew no bounds. It still took me six months to finally get around to reading the book but now it’s one of my favorites for sure!
The Forgotten Legion is a favorite of mine now but it took me one or two chapters (and these are pretty long chapters) to really get into the book, to be honest. I think I had to get used to the writing style but as soon as other characters got introduced and the story really started going I was hooked. It’s a pretty big book at 659 pages but I finished it in only four days because I just couldn’t stop reading and that’s not something that happens very often to me lately.
There are a couple of different characters that feature in this book. They were all pretty different and that’s why it really worked for this book. First of all there’s Tarquinius who’s a Etruscan soothsayer who also knows how to fight. He was probably my least favorite character but in the end I managed to start appreciating him more. Romulus and Fabiola are twins who are slaves who were born after their mother was raped by a nobleman. They’re sold when they’re thirteen. Romulus ends up at gladiator school and Fabiola ends up in a brothel. And last but not least there’s Brennus, a Gaul. His whole family and tribe got murdered by the Romans and he became one of the strongest gladiators and mentor to Romulus.
The story takes place over a lot of years so we see the characters have bad things happen to them but they grow and learn as well along the way. This is a trilogy so there’s a whole lot more to come that I just can’t wait to discover. I don’t have the books yet and since I’m on a book buying ban I’m going to have to wait until I can buy them but I’m already wondering about where the rest of the characters’ different journeys will lead them.
About the author:
Ben Kane is a bestselling Roman author and former veterinarian. He was born in Kenya and grew up in Ireland (where his parents are from). He has traveled widely and is a lifelong student of military history in general, and Roman history in particular. He lives in North Somerset, England, with his family.
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