BOOKWORMS! THIS. IS.
Why yes, I have seen 300. And Gladiator. And you know? Despite the gore, I rather enjoyed both films. Thanks to these movies, when I was offered a copy of Hannibal: Enemy of Rome by Ben Kane, I thought I’d give it a shot. *I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*
Hannibal: Enemy of Rome is set during the second Punic War. Don’t know what that is? Well. Rome was around, doing its Roman thing (conquering territory, enslaving the natives, all that good stuff.) Carthage was located in North Africa, near modern day Tunisia. They weren’t big fans of Rome, but they were big fans of war. E’erybody liked a war back then, it seems.
Anyhow, Hannibal Barca, Carthaginian general and elephant enthusiast (not to be confused with Hannibal Lecter, fictional serial killer and genius) is making a name for himself and plotting revenge on Rome for a past war. On the eve of this military expedition, a young teen named Hanno and his best friend Suni go out fishing, get drunk, and are swept out to sea. They are (of course) captured by pirates and sold into slavery. Because that was a thing. ANYBODY could be kidnapped and sold into slavery. Spoils of war… Or piracy. Hanno winds up as a slave in a Roman household (ROMAN?! Ptooey!) and rather unexpectedly becomes friends with the son of the household, Quintus.
Hanno and Quintus, Carthaginian and Roman, friends? You remember that song from South Pacific? That you have to be carefully taught who to hate? These guys are teenagers, they’ve been raised to hate one another, but they’re still young enough and honorable enough to accept that there are exceptions to every rule.
Aside from that whole star-crossed friendship thing, Hannibal: Enemy of Rome is a lot of war with a lot of detail. Military strategy, battle tactics, and graphic gore abound. There’s also quite a bit of colorful language. Apparently calling someone a “whoreson” was the ancient equivalent of a “yo mama” joke. You know. If “yo mama” was a whore.
Who would like this book? Despite the heavy military emphasis (which isn’t usually something I enjoy), it is well-written historical fiction. If you enjoyed Ken Follett’s The Pillars of the Earth (review) or John Jakes’s North and South series (review), this might be the book for you. I will warn you that it’s the first in a series, a fact I didn’t realize until I hit the end and the war wasn’t over yet. I can only hope the forthcoming books include more about the elephants!
Alright Bookworms. Fun question for you today. Although Hannibal didn’t technically ride an elephant into battle, it’s a pretty sweet steed. What animal would YOU ride into battle? (Fictional creatures are allowed. No judgement if you choose a unicorn.)
*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission. I will use that commission to beef up my battle steed fund.*