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Posted June 30, 2012
Posted October 4, 2008
Once I overcame my skepticism with the premise, I enjoyed this novel. I have a vivid and forgiving imagination. But I still find it highly implausible that Carthage --- even 100 years after Rome's conquest and exile --- would permit even two Legions in Africa, much less Italy itself. But, Roberts knows the two cultures quite well and crafts a fast and entertaining read. Now, in spite of his suspect premise, I have to read the sequel. That's the sign of a successful author!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 22, 2002
Alternate history is such a strange beast, full of windy unresolvable what might have beens. Ancient Rome has attracted its share of modern writers, speculating about its nemeses. And of these, none came closer to destroying Rome than Carthage. (With the exception of Rome's ultimate collapse in the 5th century to the Huns.) In the first and second Punic Wars, Rome was locked in a death dance with Carthage, whose greatest leader, Hannibal is remembered to this day. Several years ago, Poul Anderson wrote a novelette, "Delenda Est", invoking time travelling terrorists who use ray guns to put Carthage victorious. The result is an Earth utterly unlike ours. John Maddox Roberts chooses a different tack. Through the vagaries of the second Punic War, Hannibal crushes the Romans and forces them to migrate north. Hannibal's victory is not implausible. That war was a close run thing, to those who have read of it. All this is the prelude to the novel, set a century later. The Romans have conquered in central Europe, and are pushing back into Italy, thirsting for revenge. Some of you science fiction readers may notice the resemblance thus far to S M Stirling's "The Chosen". In that, a warlike people get defeated and forced into exile. But generations later, they have rearmed and are back for a rematch. The contrasts are interesting. Stirling's Chosen are the bad fellows (proto-Draka), while Roberts' Romans are our heroes. The Chosen and the Romans have a better military, and chalk up many successes. But somehow this novel plods. Technically each section of a chapter is ok. But something is missing. The Carthaginians seem more foolish than bad. The Romans effortlessly outthink and outfight their opponents, who are not actually Carthaginians in this novel, but Egyptians. The protagonists are almost cartoonish cardboards. Very little nuancing here. Clearly, a sequel is planned. Perhaps it will be more compelling.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 24, 2002
Rome and Carthage went to war three times with Rome defeating her enemy the first and third time but in the second Punic war, the armies led by Hannibal won heavy victories against her enemy. Rome had to rebuild her army to finally crush Carthage. On an alternate Earth, in the second Punic war, Carthage is poised at the gates of the city of Rome, ready to destroy the city if the Romans don¿t surrender. <P>When a party of Romans go out to negotiate with Hannibal, he gives them a chance to survive if they accept exile. The people vote to acquiesce to the Carthaginian terms, but vow to return one day to reclaim their land and beloved city. One hundred and fifteen years later, the exiles have created another mighty empire called Rome Norricum and are ready to fight Carthage one more. They send out a small war party disguised as a trade expedition to see what they will have to face when they try to reclaim what was once was theirs. <P>John Maddox Roberts, the author of the historical series SPQR, has written a fascinating alternate history novel in which the exiled Romans conquer the land around the Danube River. The reader is immersed in the culture of Rome as seen through the eyes of Tribune commander Marcus Scipo. Marcus, the hero of this novel, is a very sensitive man in touch with his feelings and he is the reason readers will want to read the next book in the series. <P>Harriet KlausnerWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 11, 2012
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Posted March 29, 2011
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