The fields of Cannae run with the blood of 60,000 Roman soldiers, the Carthaginian General Hannibal has smashed the two consular armies sent against him and the path to Rome itself is open.
For the young Carthaginian officer, Hanno the loss of his father on the fields of Cannae means there is only one option that Hannibal should take, March on Rome, sack the city, revenge his father and bring the war to a favourable end.
Hannibal has other ideas and to reward Hanno for his service and bravery at Cannae he sends him to Syracuse on Sicily to help the city hold out against the Roman besiegers.
He is also to be Hannibal’s eyes and ears and to stop any treachery helping the Romans take the city.
For Quintus, the battle at Cannae was a bloody disaster. He not only had to watch as his fellow Romans were cut to pieces but he also lost his father to the Carthaginian swords.
Only the actions of his Centurion saved his life and with a few fellow survivors fought their way to safety but the Roman state didn’t welcome them home as heroes. Thought of as cowards they are banished for life to the Island of Sicily and the brutal fighting in front of the wall of Syracuse.
A long way from the blood soaked fields of Cannae, Aurelia is heart broken by the death of her father and banishment of Quintus.
As she anxiously waits for news from the front she hears news that he husband has been seriously injured and ignoring all advice decided to cross the war torn country to find him.
Captured and sold as a slave she finds herself sold to the leader of Syracuse and a city under siege.
As the threads of fate bring the three friends together in the city, can they each survive the ordeals thrown at them and escape the bloody siege of Syracuse?
Clouds of War is the third instalment of Ben Kane’s story of Hannibal. Now I have to admit to facing this book with a little trepidation. I really enjoyed the first in the series, Enemy of Rome but I really struggled with Fields of Blood.
The main problem I had is that I just didn’t like the main characters! I had enjoyed them in Enemy of Rome but by Fields of Blood they had turned into spoilt brats and that put me off reading about them and the less said about Aurelia the better.
I naturally assumed that on reading Clouds of War that this would continue but happily that wasn’t the case.
The three friends have grown up a lot after the slaughter at Cannae. It seems that witnessing the bloodbath and downright butchery of the battle shocked the two boys into maturity and hearing of the loss of her father did the same to Aurelia.
The biggest character development has been with Quintus. No longer a spoiled son in the cavalry he is now a normal foot solider in the Roman army. His fellow tent mates have no idea who he is and it makes him a lot more likeable as he endures and suffers along with the rest of the Infantry.
As with every Ben Kane book you can feel the research and authenticity of the period on every page. Every term and weapon used feels like it has been meticulously researched and checked before its put into the book.
This never affects the pace of the story and Ben never gets bogged down in the details, its just if he uses a term then you can be sure that as far as the experts are concerned its correct. I believe that in a genre as packed as the Roman period is, this sets Ben’s book apart from rest.
I really enjoyed this book and for me its a relief that I did. If you are a fan of Roman Fiction then this book is a must and I can heartily recommend Ben’s series on Sparatcus and the Forgotten Legion.
I would also like to draw your attention to the fact that not only is Ben a fab author he is also a tireless fundraiser for Charity.
Last year, along with Anthony Riches and Russ Whitfield, Ben walked the length of Hadrians Wall in full Roman kit. They raised thousands of pounds for the two charities they picked. These were Combat Stress and Médecins Sans Frontières.
This year they have decided to go one better and Ben Kane, Russ Whitfield and Anthony Riches will be walking from Capua to the Forum in Rome in late April 2014. This is for the same charities as last time and if you can please donate here.
They really do suffer so its worth donating just to see that :)