By Ben Kane
Ah, Rome! From the ashes of the Empire that went down fighting (twice) have come many a work of historical fiction. Robert Harris was the one to have gotten me hooked to Cicero and the tumultuous transition of the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire. But I will be the first to admit that I know very little about the entire breadth of Roman history. Well, one century at a time.
One period of Rome's history that I have remained blind to is the Punic Wars - yes, I did hear of Carthage courtesy video games, but I had no idea that the Roman adjective for them was 'Punic'; and yes, I heard of Hannibal, but that's just about it - I had no idea about his miraculous trek through the Alps into the very heart of Rome. Now, courtesy Ben Kane's Hannibal: Enemy of Rome, I can start a new chapter and learn about that period.
Don't get me wrong, the novel is not written as a history textbook. But, as the author justifies, a lot of it is based on actual events and even actual characters, thanks to the Roman fetish for maintaining detailed records. Having finished this book, I intend to find the next one in the series. I think I've found a worthy successor to Harris (until he comes out with something new, that is)!