The Fortune of Carthage

Written by William Kelso
Review by Liz Bryan

It is 207 BC, and for eleven years Rome and Carthage have been at war. But Hasdrubal, son of Hamilcar, brother to Hannibal, has crossed the Alps and the outcome of the greatest and possibly best known war of all Roman history, is about to be decided.

Meanwhile, Marcus is just an ordinary farmer residing not far from Rome and living a contented life with his family. Then he is caught up in events that are beyond his control, a crime that means he has to pursue justice and face a future that has him enmeshed into the politics of the Roman Republic. From murder to battles, this book paints a superb portrait of life in Rome: some of the detail is superbly written, I found I couldn’t read fast enough at times, wanting to know what happened next.

There are a few grammatical errors, however, and some inconsistencies in spelling and continuity (Augurs/augurs for instance in upper and lower case; which one?) These would be easily remedied with another eagle-eyed edit, though. I am also not too sure about the cover, which depicts a map of the area included in the story. At first glance I thought I was about to read a travel-guide or non-fiction book. Given that this is such a good story I truly feel that it deserves a more eye-catching and striking cover that shouts “historical fiction” not geography book.

I did wonder if the story drifts a little towards “author’s voice” at times, and there is a little “head hopping” between characters in places, all of which an editing polish could smooth out, but even with these nit-picks I would say the author has something here. He definitely has a promising talent for telling a good story.