Spartacus: Swords and Ashes book review


I have not watched the TV series, so I don’t know how directly the two are linked. I may be discussing things here that will spoil the show. I won’t know until I watch it, which I’m going to because the book got me hooked.

When I was in high school, I was really pretentious. I read pretentious books because I was the brainy one and that’s what brains did. (Oh stereotypes, how true you often are).

Fortunately, I grew up and got over that phase and now I love reading stuff like Spartacus. It’s bloody, violent, vulgar and full of sex. And that’s just in the first chapter!

Having not seen the TV series, I don’t really know where this book falls in the canon of the show. So, a quick run down: Spartacus is a slave in the house of Batiatus. He’s a gladiator and damn good at it. Batiatus seems to be a middle class Roman with dreams of greatness.

When his ‘friend’ Pelorus is suddenly murdered, Batiatus takes his wife and a few gladiators to show respect to the recent death and see if there is anything in the will for him.

All is not well in Neapolis, though! The new governor of Scicily is in cahoots with a recently freed slave and they have devious things in mind for the house of Pelorus.

To add to the mix, Pelorus was murdered by a Getae witch named Medea, a slave of Pelorus’s house. Because he was murdered by his own slave, the whole household is to be executed in a gladitorial game.

Turns out, Medea was bought for someone. A Roman searching for prophecies and oracles arrives in Neapolis to find that his prize prophetess is condemned to death. Lives change in the gladiator ring, who knows what will happen?

The book was an incredibly fun romp. I really enjoyed the writing style. It was descriptive enough that I felt immersed but didn’t spend page upon page describing every little detail of the places and battles.

It was good enough that I’m planning on to start watching the TV series as soon as I get a chance. I suspect if you’re already a fan of the series, you’ll enjoy the book, too.

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