Tag Archives: Historical Fiction

Spartacus—


Ben Kane’s second book on the slave leader, Spartacus does not disappoint.

Kane uses what little (very little) is known about Spartacus to piece together and imagine a gripping story of the man and his troops.

Historical fiction always faces the problem that the reader knows the outcome. Writers in this genre cannot rely on twisting plots to entertain the reader and must use character rather than plot to make the story come alive. Kane does a great job keeping the reader interested in a story that we all know ends poorly for the Hero.

Kane builds relationships between Spartacus and his men– both his loyal followers and the men who might not have been quite so loyal.

And, I was pleasantly surprised to find his battle scene writing to be truly gripping. As a woman, I tend to get a bit bored during battle scenes. It’s one of the things I did not like in Bernard Cornwell’s books. But, I loved Kane’s approach! He immerses the reader in the battle through the eyes of one of the key characters, Carbo. This is great because I was expecting that we’d see it through Spartacus’ point of view. I could truly tell there was a great outpouring of emotion as Kane wrote. Blood, pain, excitement seeped through the final pages.

I also like the through nature of Kane’s writing about the Roman period. He’s afterward and glossary are a welcome edition to the book.

I would recommend this book and thought it was even better than his first one!

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The Heretic Queen: A Review

The Heretic QueenThe Heretic Queen by Michelle Moran
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book is another of Michelle Moran’s historical fiction works following the lives of women we have heard about in a history text book,mbut may not know every much about. This time it’s Ramesses II’s wife Nefertari. Readers are given a look at her younger years, so it feels a little like a YA novel. (We also get a YA feeling in Moran’s Cleopatra’s Daughter). But,the story is good– all big ingredients: love, power, death. And, the writing flows every well. There are a few palace intrigue moments that seem like high school. But then, who said people ever really grow up? All and all, a good summer easy read.

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The Marshal Family Saga: A Place Beyond Courage– A Review

A Place Beyond Courage (William Marshal, #1)A Place Beyond Courage by Elizabeth Chadwick

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Chadwick delivers another solid historical-fiction account of the period during the English Anarchy. This time she follows the life of John Marshal a strong-willed and clever supporter of the Emperess Matilda. John Marshal is best known for two rather striking historical incidents. First, in a heated battle, he retreats to a church. His enemies set it on fire and rather than be captured, John stays in the burning building and suffers the scaring loss of one eye. Second, he is known for offering up his son William Marshal to King Stephen as a hostage. John then breaks the truce and as a results, forfeits William’s life. The soft-hearted King Stephen does not allow his followers to kill the child (and William grows up to a power force at the court of King Henry).

These two episodes define John Marshal in the eyes of history. Modern followers of the Marshal family history can’t help but wonder at what John was thinking! But, Chadwick does an excellent job of painting a strong-willed, brave, and determined man. John Marshal deals in a world of realpolitik where difficult situations require him to make even harder choices for survival.

Chadwick attempts to flesh out the emotions behind the choices and offer one potential view of John Marshal. By adding emotion to the historical narrative of John’s life readers can TRY to imagine how and why he made his famous choices.

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