A battle is like lust. The frenzy passes. Consequence remains.
Hannibal is an epic vision of one of history's greatest adventurers, the almost mythical man who most famously led his soldiers on elephants over the Alps. In Ross Leckie's unforgettable re-creation of the Punic wars, it is Hannibal, the Carthaginian general, who narrates the story, and who is carried by his all-consuming ambition through profoundly bloody battles against the great Roman armies of early empire.
In this breathtaking chronicle of love and hate, heroism and cruelty, one of humanity's greatest adventurers is brought to life, who learns through suffering that man is but a shadow of a dream.
About the Author
Ross Leckie is the author of the trilogy of historical novels, Hannibal , Scipio and Carthage , and of Aristotle's Alchemy. He lives in Edinburgh.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Probably as close as we're likely to get to a portrait of Hannibal and his age, very satisfying both for the authentic feel of the book and as an exciting, moving story.
I bought the book eagerly -- always anxious to read a good historical novel, especially if it seems to deal with characters and personages I've not yet met with between hard covers. Unfortunately, this is another one of those historical works that seems to dribble away its promise. The characters, even Hannibal, lack any spark of life, while the plot is little more than Hannibal growing up, hating Rome, vowing to get even for past defeats and putting together a crack mercenary army -- in what was to become Spain -- only to take this army, with all the attendant hardships this involved, over the Alps. There he commences a career of torturing his enemies on the battlefield for 10 bloody years (which seem to go by rather too quickly to account for all the time and damage done). The historical Hannibal was indeed a single-minded and highly successful foe of Rome but he seems to have achieved very little with his victories except to harden that war-like and resilient nation, giving them the opportunity to learn new strategies and grow into the colossus of the Mediterranean world they were shortly to become. Hannibal neither changed nor redirected any of this, although his war did seem to hasten the end of his own rather unlovely (by modern standards) nation. The novel captures very little of this tension and irony and is best on the battlefield where we lose sight of the people involved for the grandeur of large-scale military movements. I guess there was a paucity of personal information available to the author with this subject but, even so, he ought to have done better since he undertook to call this a novel. One is left with very little feeling for a largely flat and unsympathetic protagonist about whom little has been learned and nothing convincing has been presented to explain the dramatic reversal in his fortunes. Apparently his mostly successful initiative on the Italian peninsula simply petered out as he raced up and down the land soundly trouncing various Roman forces but never convincingly shattering the Roman alliances or capturing and holding significant territory. In the end he is betrayed by impossibly long lines of supplies and dwindling support at home. But the novel seems to telescope and compress the latter events surrounding this collapse so that the reader barely knows it is happening before it's a fait accomplis. William the Conqueror certainly did it better in 1066 against the English. (For a real historical novel, of the first class, I'd recommend the reader try The Golden Warrior by Hope Muntz -- dealing with the epic tug-of-war between Harold and William for the crown of England in the eleventh century. Muntz probably had more material to work with in her endeavor than Leckie had with Hannibal, although Harold, too, is something of an historical enigma. Yet she brings the disparate historical personalities to brilliant life in a terse, poetic prose not easily matched by her authorial competitors. And her battle scenes make the general, Hannibal, seem little more than a piker. I guess it's the luck of the draw for these guys; and who you get to tell your tale.) -- SWM