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Hannibal's Children

Hannibal's Children

4.1 6
by John Maddox Roberts

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What would have happened if Hannibal had received the reinforcements necessary to topple the Roman Empire? That fascinating 'what if' is the central premise of Roberts's latest historical novel.


What would have happened if Hannibal had received the reinforcements necessary to topple the Roman Empire? That fascinating 'what if' is the central premise of Roberts's latest historical novel.

Editorial Reviews

Midwest Book Review
A fascinating alternate history novel...The Reader is immersed in the culture of Rome.
Publishers Weekly
What would have happened if Hannibal had received the reinforcements necessary for him to topple the Roman Empire? That fascinating "what if" is the central premise of Roberts's (the SPQR series) latest historical novel, which begins with the arrival of Philip V of Macedon and his formidable army at a pivotal point in the series of wars between Carthage and Rome, allowing the brilliant Hannibal to force a surrender in which the Romans are driven north out of Italy. Fast-forward a hundred years: the Romans are plotting their revenge against Hannibal's progeny, starting with a trade mission-cum-military espionage expedition led by Marcus Scipio. Scipio does a thorough job of sizing up the capabilities of the Carthaginians before leaving behind his rival, Titus Norbanus, to manage that situation in Carthage while he embarks on a similar expedition to Egypt. He then plans an ingenious series of maneuvers to retake Italy, pitting the Carthaginians against the Egyptians while manipulating both the queen of Egypt and Hannibal's heir, Hamilcar II, before a series of dramatic battles that feature the innovative war technology of the era. Roberts occasionally gets bogged down in military minutiae and cultural rituals, but his portraits of the various leaders and rivals are first-rate and his knowledge of the period is unassailable. He does an admirable job of navigating through a difficult and challenging conceit, providing plenty of reflective material for history buffs while constructing an intriguing story line that pays tribute to the ingenuity of the Romans. (May) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Just over a century after the triumphant army of Carthage expelled the Romans from Italy, the children of those exiled Roman families launch a campaign to reclaim their heritage. A small diplomatic delegation led by young commander Marcus Scipio enters the Carthaginian capital and meets with the descendants of the legendary Hannibal, the priestess Zarabel, and her brother and rival, Hamilcar II, forging relations that initiate unforeseen consequences for Carthaginians and Romans alike. The author of The King's Gambit and The Catiline Conspiracy provides a well-researched and vivid alternate history of the rivalry between Rome and Carthage. Recommended for most sf and general fiction collections. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

Product Details

Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
Publication date:
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
5.70(w) x 8.50(h) x 1.19(d)

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Hannibal's Children 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Capt-Kirk More than 1 year ago
A real page turner for an alternatre history fan. I found it very hard to turn the light out at night!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
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!
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.

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.

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.

Harriet Klausner