Tag Archives: carthage

David Gibbins: Sword of Attila (Review)

David Gibbins's picture

David Gibbins

Canada (1962 – )

David Gibbins has worked in underwater archaeology all his professional life. After taking a PhD from Cambridge University he taught archaeology in Britain and abroad, and is a world authority on ancient shipwrecks and sunken cities. He has led numerous expeditions to investigate underwater sites in the Mediterranean and around the world. He currently divides his time between fieldwork, England and Canada.

The fall of Rome was just the beginning. A new empire will rise . . .

The Sword of Attila (2015)

(The second book in the Total War Rome series)
A novel by David Gibbins

Sword of Attila
AD 439: the Roman Empire is on the brink of collapse. With shocking speed a Vandal army has swept through the Roman provinces of Spain and north Africa, conquering Carthage and threatening Roman control of the Mediterranean. But a far greater threat lies to the east, a barbarian force born in the harsh steppelands of Asia, warriors of unparalleled savagery who will sweep all before them in their thirst for conquest – the army of Attila the Hun.

For a small group of Roman soldiers and a mysterious British monk, the only defence is to rise above the corruption and weakness of the Roman emperors and hark back to the glory days of the Roman army centuries before, to find strength in history. But then they devise a plan of astonishing audacity that will take them to the heart of darkness itself, to the stronghold of the most feared warrior-king the world has ever known. In the showdown to come, in the greatest battle the Romans have ever fought, victory will go to those who can hold high the most potent symbol of war ever wrought by man – the sacred sword of Attila.


Book one in this novel new series, starts with the real birth of the roman empire, the sacking of Carthage, the beginning of their real power in the Mediterranean. Book 2 The Sword of Attila focuses on the end of the empire, Rome has been sacked a hundred years previously by the goths, and are now on the verge of being kicked out of Africa by the vandals. In the east a new power is rising ruling over the Hun.

A much underwritten part of the Roman history, yet there is so much rich, action packed history to delve into. David Gibbins as usual provides immaculate research, he then couples it with highly plausible fictional action. This series is linked to a computer game, it is potentially its flaw, the book provides the reader with all the knowledge needed to play and win the game, to understand the history, and all the elements in it. The soldiers their equipment, the countries the alliances and so much more, so much in fact each book could and maybe should be a series on its own. It is this that made me struggle a little with book one, book two however had the winning extra of including a fictional but highly plausible character Arturus, a dark age figure tied to British folklore and myth. As with so much of David Gibbins amazing Jack Howard series, he gives enough fact to the fictional to show just how possible the it is for Arturus to have existed in this way, and been the basis for the myth.

Arturus, coupled with Flavius and many other very real characters really make this book, the occasionally slightly stilted plot (by this im using the comparison of the flowing plot that is the Jack Howard series) is more than made up for with scope, the characters and the copious author notes at the end, making this a very very readable, enjoyable 4/5 stars.


Jack Howard
1. Atlantis (2005)
2. Crusader Gold (2006)
3. The Last Gospel (2008)
aka The Lost Tomb
4. The Tiger Warrior (2009)
5. The Mask of Troy (2010)
6. The Gods of Atlantis (2011)
aka Atlantis God
7. Pharaoh (2013)

9. Pyramid (2014)

AtlantisCrusader GoldThe Last GospelThe Tiger WarriorThe Mask of TroyThe Gods of AtlantisPharaohPyramid

Total War Rome
1. Destroy Carthage (2013)
2. The Sword of Attila (2015)
Destroy CarthageThe Sword of Attila

1 Comment

Filed under David Gibbins, Historical Fiction

Ben Kane : Clouds of War (Review)

Author: Ben Kane


Author Bio

Click above for author bio info: (and visit his wonderful web site)

Book description

Clouds of War

Buy a Signed copy from Goldsboro Books

As Rome’s war with Carthage continues, two friends – now on opposing sides – confront each other in one of the most brutal sieges of all time. A new Hannibal novel by the Sunday Times bestselling author of The Forgotten Legion series.

213 BC. Syracuse. Under the merciless Sicilian sun, a city is at war.

Outside the walls, a vast Roman army waits. Yet the city’s incredible defences, designed by Archimedes, mean that Syracuse will not be taken easily.

A veteran of the bitter war since its beginning, Quintus is ready to give his life in the service of the Republic. But dangers face him from within his own ranks as well as from the enemy – who include his former friend, the Carthaginian, Hanno.

Hanno has been sent by his general Hannibal to aid Syracuse in its fight against Rome. Pledged to bring death to all Romans, he is diverted from his mission by the discovery of Quintus’ sister Aurelia, a captive within the city.

Two friends on opposing sides. A woman caught between them. They are about to meet in one of the most brutal sieges of all time.

Who will survive?


Its very easy for a lot of historical fiction to get classed as swords and sandals. Most peoples who dont read the genre have the impression thats its a bit of a dry, wordy style book with a lot of stabby stabby blood, war death maybe some sex and then the end. Firstly Swords and Sandals is so much more than that, there is humor, comradeship, tactics, fighting skills, characters and more, so never judge a book by its label.

That said Clouds of War is not swords and sandals in my opinion, so if you read the genre or not this book is something different, something much more personal, its a history lesson, its a life lesson, its a story of love, life, grief, both personal and national and romance. Its a book filled on a very personal level, it has an energy, a pace and a deep love of history you don’t find in many books, and not many authors have the skill to carry off.

As usual with my look at a book, i’m not going to risk spoilers, or try and pull apart the plot, too much chance of spoiling the book for others. The book blurb tells you all about this stage of the story of Hanno, Quintus and Aurelia. What i will talk about is once again is Ben’s amazing writing. There are a few authors who can leave me thinking about a book for more than an hour or so after i finish the review, There are even fewer who can elicit a real emotional response. Maybe i’m a sentimental old Granddad these days, but some of the familia led plot was just heartrending. I guarantee that this book will reduce some readers to absolute tears. Where with Anthony Riches you know that at some point someone is going to get a yard of steel through the guts, its almost part of the boys own action of it. With Ben it again is no surprise to see death, but it could be murder, famine, thirst, disease or war and it might not be just a family member it could be a whole village, a legion anyone. The man is so much more brutal when it comes to mortality, but only in terms of relaying the brutality of life and war in the ancient world.

Ben probably more than any writer shows you life in the ancient world, warts and all. And none of that should put a reader off, just the opposite, you MUST buy this book. This is the culmination of years of writing lessons learned, adding all the feedback, adding every nuance and experience to his writing skill.

This truly is a must buy Highly recommended book


Forgotten Legion Chronicles

1. The Forgotten Legion (2008)
2. The Silver Eagle (2009)
3. The Road to Rome (2010)
The Forgotten LegionThe Silver EagleThe Road to Rome
1. Enemy of Rome (2011)
2. Fields of Blood (2013)
3. Clouds of War (2014)
The Patrol (2013)
Enemy of RomeFields of BloodClouds of WarThe Patrol
1. The Gladiator (2012)
2. Rebellion (2012)
The GladiatorRebellion
For those not aware authors Ben Kane, Anthony Riches & Russ Whitfield will be doing another fantastic charity walk in 2014

They are walking from Capua to the Forum in Rome in late April 2014, raising money for: MSF – Médecins Sans Frontières & Combat Stress. Last Year over £18,000 was raised, lets see if we can help them top that this year. (there is also a film crew this year, so i fully expect some fun, interesting and crazy footage in the near future)

Give Generously

Leave a comment

Filed under Ben Kane, Historical Fiction

COLOSSUS by Alexander Cole

colossus vertical

Todays blog is courtesy of the debut author Alexander Cole to coincide with the release of his book Colossus:

Book Description:

colossus flat

Alexander the Great rests in Babylon as he decides which should be his next world to conquer. A war elephant, Colossus, disturbs the peace of the camp when he is provoked to a killing rampage. Only one young mahout has the courage to stop Colossus. And when Alexander notices his bravery, Gajendra begins a meteoric climb through the ranks of the Macedonian army. Gajendra is fiercely loyal to Alexander, the great General who plucked him from obscurity. But as he rises to become Captain of the Elephants, Gajendra sees how Alexander is being corrupted by luxury and power. Forced to choose between keeping faith with Alexander or with his comrades, Gajendra must find the strength to make the right decision as Alexander’s army approaches the gates of Rome. 

Guest Blog: 





They called him Alexander the Great. But ‘the great’ what?

Greatness was not calculated in the distant past in the way we would judge it now. Alexander was considered ‘great’ by ancient history because he achieved conquest from the Mediterranean to the Ganges. It is true this made him a great general; but by today’s standards, this does not make him a great man.

Conquest on the scale of Alexander’s could not have been achieved without unrivalled ruthlessness.

Parmenion is testament to that.

Who was Parmenion? He was a Macedonian nobleman who rose to become second in command of Alexander’s army. He commanded Alexander’s left wing at both major battles in the Persian campaign, at Issus and Gaugamala. He was Alexander’s steadying influence, fiercely loyal but very conservative in his tactics.

After Issus the Persian king, Darius III, offered Alexander his daughter’s hand as well as all Minor Asia in exchange for an alliance. Parmenion’s advice? ‘If I were Alexander, I should accept it.’

To which Alexander famously replied: ‘So would I – if I were Parmenion.’

Soon afterwards, one of Parmenion’s sons, Philotas, was accused of plotting against Alexander’s life, a conspiracy to which he confessed under torture.

He was then stoned to death.

While this was happening, Parmenion was in Media, in command of one of Alexander’s armies and guarding his treasury and his supply lines. Alexander rightly supposed that once Parmenion discovered that his son had been tortured and executed he must certainly look to take revenge. Because of his experience, his tactical position and his popularity, he was in the ideal position to do it.

Alexander immediately sent two of his men, Cleandor and Sitalces, across the desert to Media on racing camels. Before news could reach Parmenion about his son’s fate, the two officers had arrived and stabbed him to death.

Parmenion had faithfully served both Alexander and his Alexander’s father; he was a hugely competent soldier with a brilliant career, and was immensely popular with the soldiers.

But Alexander did not hesitate, Loyalty counted for nothing and neither did friendship.

It was a pragmatic decision from a ruthless man.

Or was there more to it? What makes Parmenion’s death more intriguing is the suggestion that there actually was no plot against Alexander. Could it have been Alexander’s ploy to rid himself of a general whose popularity threatened to rival his own? 

If true, it was a strategy that he was never to change. He died himself just seven years later, without a clear heir or successor. He remained adept at keeping his generals at odds with each other.

His quest for greatness was for Alexander and Alexander alone.

After his death Macedonian unity disappeared and his generals squabbled over the empire like buzzards over a carcass.

COLOSSUS begins at which Alexander’s true history ends; it is the story of what might have happened if he lived to march an army out of Babylon, instead of succumbing to illness – or was it poison? – at the age of just 33.

His army was not only pre-eminent, it had been seemingly strengthened with the addition of ancient weapons of mass destruction; war elephants from India. He had recently created a unique post within his army – ‘elephantarch,’ the captain of the elephants.

By then his megalomania and paranoia was well advanced; he was also grief stricken over the loss of his soul’s companion, Hephaiston, and had survived wounds that would have killed ten men.

He had become monstrous.

Meanwhile every general within his army was positioning themselves for the coming game of thrones.

But as Parmenion could have told them, it was a battle they could not win.

This is the world to which Colossus, a monster of a different kind, is introduced. Soon after he survives the assassination attempt Alexander sets out to conquer again – to Carthage, to Sicily and then onto Rome.

Thank You: Alexander Cole, i know reading this has given me a different viewpoint for the story, i hope those reading this will take this view of Alexander the Great into their reading of the book.

My review will follow in a few days……..


Leave a comment

Filed under Alexander Cole, Fantasy, Historical Fiction