Wednesday, February 17, 2010
5. THE FORGOTTEN LEGION - Ben Kane
As a writer who lives in the world where Romans are enemies and fables become truths, this book spoke to my spirit. Kane has written the first in a series of epic tales about the lost history of the conquered - though definitely not forgotten.
Twins are born to a Roman slave; one becomes a gladiator, while his sister is sold into prostitution. Brennus is the mentor to Romulus, teaching him how to do battle in the arena. When forced to flee, the two join Tarquinius, one of the last Etruscan tribe, who is not only a warrior but a "haruspex," someone who knows the lost arts of divination in the tribe.
The three join the army and fight the Parthians, setting the tone for the future books where they will fight their way to Margiana and become the historically known "Forgotten Legion." Meanwhile, Fabiola, the twin left for death at the whorehouse, is wooed and won by the powerful Brutus. Her fortune also awaits us in the next volume.
While the book may seem like back story for a longer novel, it is full of ancient myths and battles. For example, one greedy general's quest for gold is used to parallel another myth about "beware of what you wish for" (and, strangely enough, appeared in another recent book, as well, but more on that in future posts).
I found myself flipping through the pages like eating potato chips. If kids could read this, history would be ever-so-much-more interesting. However, I don't think I'll feel quite full until I know more about the characters' fates. Please, Mr. Kane, follow the horrible examples of the trilogies turned into six-seven-eight-infinity books, and provide your readers these wonderful stories without dipping into irrational red herrings and plot twists. Diana Gabaldon, I am looking at you.
3.8 out of 5.0 Roman Riots.