Spartacus: Talons of an Empire

Written by Robert Southworth
Review by Ray Taylor

This slim novel is a new addition to the already crowded Roman history genre, and Robert Southworth’s is a new voice. Its premise is that Spartacus survived the slave rebellion of 73 BC and went on to have further thrilling adventures in the Roman Empire.

The novel includes a handful of real historical characters such as Marcus Lucinius Crassus and Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus (better known as Pompey), but the majority of the other characters are fictional. This tale involves Spartacus going into partnership with Cassian Antonius, an aristocrat and fixer whom we gradually learn more about as the action progresses. There are plenty of scenes of violence and gore, as you would expect, but these are never done gratuitously but rather with a measure of restraint and functionality that render them more effective. Other colourful characters make their entrances and sometimes swift exits in high gladiatorial drama.

Robert Southworth is an author with potential and is already at work on the sequel (Spartacus: the Gods Demand Sacrifice). A sample chapter is included at the end. He has a long way to go, however, before he can rival the likes of Douglas Jackson, Ben Kane, Harry Sidebottom and others in this field. The other point is that, while the story in itself is engaging enough, the overall effect is spoilt by the huge number of proofreading errors I found throughout. These really did detract from the flow of the narrative, and I have even taken the liberty of contacting the publishers directly (they happen to be local to me!) and offered them my own services as proofreader.