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Spartacus: The Gladiator (Spartacus Chronicles) Hardcover – June 5, 2012

4.3 out of 5 stars 56 customer reviews
Book 1 of 2 in the Spartacus Series

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Julian Fellowes's Belgravia by Julian Fellowes
"Julian Fellowes's Belgravia" by Julian Fellowes
From the creator and writer of Downton Abbey comes a grand historical novel, with hugely exciting twists and dramatic chapter endings. Learn more | See author page
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Editorial Reviews


“Powerful.” ―Library Journal

“A compulsive, if relentless story, vividly recounted in muscular prose.” ―The Daily Telegraph (UK)

About the Author

BEN KANE is the author of a trilogy set in ancient Rome that comprises The Forgotten Legion, The Silver Eagle and The Road to Rome. He has traveled widely and is a lifelong student of military history. He lives in North Somerset, England, with his family.


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Product Details

  • Series: Spartacus Chronicles (Book 1)
  • Hardcover: 480 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press (June 5, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9781250001160
  • ISBN-13: 978-1250001160
  • ASIN: 1250001161
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.6 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (56 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,100,322 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I have read all of Ben Kane's books and have thoroughly enjoyed them all but, I have to admit that this novel would have to be his best. Therefore I am delighted that there will be a sequel out later this year.

The story of Spartacus is well known with numerous books published over the years and augmented by movies and more recently the TV series Spartacus: Blood and Sand and also the prequel Gods of the Arena. It's a story that captures people's imagination that an individual sold into slavery, sent to train as a gladiator to please the crowd could escape and challenge the very might of the Roman Republic.

Ben Kane does a brilliant job in bringing to life the character of Spartacus. He has inserted a considerable amount of historical information into the storyline and has tempered it with a fine balance of fictional input to produce a very enjoyable and believable novel.

The novel is full of action, conflict, romance, enmity and much more . Reading it has been most rewarding.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Novels about Spartacus seem to have become popular again, probably because of the recent TV series. Spartacus the gladiator is one of the good ones but it probably falls just short of "The Parthian", another recent read. This book certainly has a more gritty Spartacus than the legendary Howard Fast novel but is let down by occasional weak dialogue.

Not a great deal is known about Spartacus as the Roman authors don't devote a lot of time to him, presumably because he was an embarrassment to Rome. Some of the Roman sources contradict each other too. It is generally thought that Spartacus must have served time in the Roman army because of his obvious tactical skill and the book opens with him returning from the army to his village in Thrace. Here he falls foul of the Thracian king and is sold into slavery as a gladiator along with his wife, the Dionysus priestess Ariadne who has married him to escape the attentions of the Thracian king. Eventually they arrive at the Lentulus Batiatus gladiator school in Capua which is a hot bed of factions and Spartacus rapidly becomes leader of one of the main groups. The other factions are the Gauls and Germans, the main Gallic group being led by Crixus, a thoroughly nasty piece of work who although he joins up with Spartacus for the break out from the gladiator school, is a constant source of trouble for the slave revolt. The breakout from the school is realistically portrayed and the book follows the revolt until the battle of Mutina. Obviously a second book is on the way.

The characterization is generally good with Spartacus a believable leader who does, however, have some inner demons. Fictional characters, such as the disinherited Roman Carbo, are also dealt with well.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
*Full review first published on Goodreads.*

This is an epic story of a Thracian who was betrayed and sold to the ludus to become a gladiator. This is a story of a brave man who led thousands of slaves in an uprising against the Roman Republic. This is a magnificent story of survival and loyalty.

This, is a story of Spartacus.

My first encounter with Ben Kane was in his collaborative work with five other authors in A Day of Fire: a novel of Pompeii. His story was about an ex-legionary who staked his entire future on a gladiator bout destined never to be finished. I was deeply fascinated and truly enjoyed the vivid description of the bout itself (even though the main focus was about the eruption of Mount Vesuvius). I was looking for another male HF authors who could write epic battle scenes after reading and enjoying David Gemmell's Troy series, and thus decided to give Spartacus a try.

While the battle, bouts, and melee scenes were very well done, I find that Ben Kane lacks David Gemmell's flair for writing. But hey, who am I to pass such judgement. Spartacus was written in third-person narration. The major part of the story alternates between the three main characters: Spartacus, Ariadne, and Carbo, and at times we got the perspectives of the Praetors and Consuls. The latter gave a different perspective of the battle and that, I thought, make the plot more three-dimensional. Typically, a switch of viewpoint are done at chapter boundaries. Unfortunately, it wasn't like that for Spartacus. Most times, the switch of viewpoints for the MCs were done at paragraph boundaries instead! How confusing is that! In fact, if I remembered correctly, the viewpoints switched within the same paragraph!! Oh gosh.
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Format: Hardcover
Originally posted on my blog: [...]

I have to say that although I like historical fiction, I've read very few novels like Spartacus: The Gladiator. Ben Kane combines extensive knowledge about the period with a fast-paced, daring writing style, a strong, fierce hero and a powerful plot. You can tell he's an experienced writer with his confident writing - the action scenes could be easily understood, the romance was short and sweet and the characterization remained constant. I loved how Ben Kane took the widely known facts about Spartacus a step further by adding all these details that truly make the story believable and worthwhile.

Spartacus' arrogant attitude but caring personality shines through in every word Kane writes - from the first killing of the thieves to saving the priestess Ariadne from the kings' guards even though he could have been killed in the process. I didn't always like Spartacus because of his brashness and unemotional nature but nevertheless, he was a very well-rounded and well-developed character.

All in all, this novel was a very entertaining read and I can't wait to see more of Spartacus. Although I may not have read much in this genre, I can say with confidence that Ben Kane can be counted among the famous authors in literary merit. When it comes to historical fiction, Kane is a master!

P.S. I also recommend watching the TV show Spartacus along with this book and its sequel (not out yet).

Word of Warning: This novel is for people interested in historical fiction, especially about Spartacus. At 480 pages, it is definitely not an easy, fast read. There are violent scenes (though not at all unnecessary or gross) and rape scenes and profanity is prevalent throughout, so you should know what you're getting into if you read this book.

I received a complimentary copy as part of a blog tour in exchange for an honest review.
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