Clash of Empires

Written by Ben Kane
Review by Gordon O'Sullivan

On the cusp of destroying its bitter foe, Carthage, the Roman Empire is already looking for its next target. In Clash of Empires, the first in a two-book series from Ben Kane, we are dropped into the middle of the forgotten war between Rome and Macedon. We follow five main characters spread between the two powers, giving a multi-sided view of the cause of the conflict and the fighting itself. On the Roman side we have two veteran soldiers, brothers Felix and Antonius, and the wildly ambitious Senator Flamininus. Opposite them Kane creates a young oarsman, Demetrios, desperate to join the famous phalanx and the Macedon king himself, Philip V, dreaming of emulating the feats of his illustrious ancestor, Alexander. All these characters have a part to play as the Romans take on the last major Mediterranean power standing in their way. Let battle commence.

By telling this tale from each and every side, the reader is forced into an almost neutral position of watching from the sidelines, absorbed in the battle between the two powers. The characters are, as ever, powerfully drawn by the author, and the battle scenes are both thrillingly gruesome and impressively authentic. Kane has obviously done his research but restrains any urge to dump information, instead using it as a rarely-seen foundation for the involving story and the twisting narrative. He continues to improve from book to book, and Clash of Empires sees him at the height of his powers. He seamlessly pulls together the narrative threads of his main characters and drives the reader onwards to the second and final book in this series. His many fans will wait impatiently for the conclusion of this story, as Clash of Empires is a historical novel of the highest quality.