The Forgotten Legion

Written by Ben Kane
Review by Nancy Henshaw


In the dying days of the Roman Republic, anarchy rules in the capital. Three men maintain an uneasy triumvirate: Pompey suspiciously watches Julius Caesar’s achievements in Gaul while Crassus, the richest man in Rome, prepares for war in Parthia. With this background of well recorded great events, The Forgotten Legion tells four very different stories.

Tarquinius is skilled in divination and a rare survivor of the cultured Etruscans, his tribe obliterated by Rome but still a free man. Brennus, a Gaul, slave and greatest of gladiators, is tormented by his failure to protect his family. Romulus and Fabiola, twin brother and sister, were born into slavery. He is now receiving training and protection from Brennus at a school of gladiators where he shows superb promise in fighting skills. Fabiola, quick-witted and beautiful, was sold at thirteen into a luxurious brothel and is now the most sought after prostitute in Rome. All four have desires: Tarquinius to find the home of his legendary ancestors somewhere far to the east. The other three want revenge on their abusers, and the twins to be reunited. The departure of Crassus gives the three men their chance of escape, welcomed as mercenaries into his enormous, grandiose army.

The Forgotten Legion is a story of cruelty and, from the ones with power, almost unbelievable stupidity. But there is also courage and friendship, love and loyalty plus plenty of vigorous sex. This first time novel is easy, fluent reading with some engaging characters. Except for the unlikely introduction of tomatoes, a scattering of clichés and anachronisms is acceptable in an author still learning his craft.

Nancy Henshaw