Vesuvius slumbers for now…

As many of you know, Spartacus and his men escaped from the gladiator school in Capua. They ecamped first to the top of Vesuvius, which lay nearby to the southeast. In 73 BC, it was known only as a mountain, and the haunt of the gods, among them Vulcan. Of course that all changed dramatically, and terribly, one hundred and fifty years later in AD 79, in the immense eruption that devastated Pompeii, Herculaneum, and many other places. (Quick aside: if you haven’t read Pompeii, by Robert Harris, please make the time to do so. It’s excellent!)

Given the large number of natural disasters recently, from the Pacific tsunami in Dec. 2004, to the earthquake in Japan, scientists have begun looking at the ‘black swans’ in their own backyards. The term is used for ‘unlikely but potentially devastating’ natural disasters, and Vesuvius falls into that scary category. Over three million people live in the immediate area of the volcano. Read an extremely interesting article about it here.

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23 Comments

  1. Posted 16 May 2011 at 12:55 | Permalink

    I will be sure to look the book up. I just,finished,reading Road To Rome and I must,say I felt the pain between romulus and fabiola– their conflicting purposes. You did an excellent job, I would have never guessed tht outcome by reading the first two… as for the ending I curse your cliffhangers lol once again im left in hope for another installment of this series. *Sorry, SPOILER ALERT* I want to know if Brennus is alive or not. One word to describe your work: ingenious!! You are absolutely brilliant!! You have a fan in me for life!

  2. benkane
    Posted 16 May 2011 at 13:25 | Permalink

    @cereza671: I’m so pleased that you liked The Road to Rome, and the trilogy in general. Thanks so much for your compliments, and sorry for the cliffhangers! As for Brennus, well, who knows what might have happened to him? 😉

  3. John Salter
    Posted 17 May 2011 at 15:51 | Permalink

    Ben – It’s hard to believe that so many people re-settled in the shadow of Vesuvius after the eruption especially over two thousand years ago when they thought it was a consequence of the Gods punishing them for their ‘sins.’ I’ve always wanted to visit Pompeii but have only got as far a Rome so far in Italy.

    Talking of sins, I’m up to episode five of Spartacus Blood & Sand ‘since yesterday’. I have to say the first episode was a poor man’s 300 but it’s getting better and growing on me. I never visualised the Ludus on a cliff face though! I see what people mean about he gratuitous nature of it, which is okay when it’s well done and in context.

  4. Posted 18 May 2011 at 13:35 | Permalink

    @Ben :-O do i sense another book?!?!?! I hope so… Idk where it would go but it ended with a cliffhanger!!!! Lol I love your books and Im looking forward to the others that you write. And of course no problem, I am your fan forever! Besides I dont know of too many authors who take the time to speak with their fans, the fact that you take the time out to reach out to us makes me very grateful.

    @John yes when I first watched spartacus I was very unhappy with the first episode tht I brushed it off completely but because Im running out of shows to watch you’ve convinced me to try again l0l

  5. benkane
    Posted 18 May 2011 at 13:53 | Permalink

    @cereza671: Who knows whether Brennus will ever ride again so to speak? (It is the most common question I get asked, so I do wonder if I will ever get attracted back to it…) And you’re very welcome to be here on my site. I love interacting with you and other readers: it validates the work I do here at my computer, in my little office, and often cheers me up if my writing isn’t going well. So please keep popping by! 🙂

  6. John Salter
    Posted 21 May 2011 at 18:39 | Permalink

    cereza671 – I’ve watched the entire first series of Blood & Sand now and all the special features. Without giving anything of the storlyline away, it does improve drastically as both the story and the characters develop. John Hannahs character is truly evil, which is good!

    The special features show it was done the way it was because the directors and producers wanted a graphic novel feel to it, which they got in large portions. Once you watch a few episodes you tend to forget that element, sort of anyway!

    It is different from any version of Spartacus I’ve seen or read before and the makers have broken new ground with it and I suppose have been really daring. I just hope that Ben’s descriptions in his book are that good, I don’t keep imagining ‘green scree’ backgrounds!

    I’m sure they will be! 😉

  7. benkane
    Posted 22 May 2011 at 10:23 | Permalink

    @John: no pressure then! 🙂

  8. Posted 22 May 2011 at 13:02 | Permalink

    First things first ben I love the new look to the site. Secondly, I had a question about tht short spartacus work tht u did where can I read it? Or is it in the making still? And as for the Hannibal story I see tht I can purchase it via amazon uk is there any other way to get the book? Im in hawaii thts why.

    @john thanks ill definitely take a looksie then. My supernatural series is done for now and I,know they arent doing another rome season so ill go ahead and watch blood and sand 🙂

  9. benkane
    Posted 22 May 2011 at 15:58 | Permalink

    @cereza671: Spartacus isn’t even finished yet! And it won’t be short – it’s going to be two whole books long…

    Never fear about the fact that Hannibal: Enemy of Rome isn’t coming out in the USA until 2013. The Book Depository (nothing to do with Dallas, 1963!) is an amazing website that mails books all round the world, with NO charge for postage. Their prices rival Amazon’s too. Look no further than http://www.bookdepository.co.uk 😉

  10. PaulfromEboracum
    Posted 22 May 2011 at 16:47 | Permalink

    Hi Ben – have just finished the entire series of Sub Rosa by Steven Saylor (what else is one to do while you toil for my next fix of BK!). I’m sure you will have mentioned these books on here but I have to say I have loved them and would recommend them to others. The mix of whodunnit and description of first c BC Rome are addictive and I wonder if you have read any /all? The two stand alone books telling stories oif Rome from foundation to Hsadrian are also well worth a read. Meanwhile am reading Caesars account of the Civil War whilst awaiting 9th June.

  11. benkane
    Posted 22 May 2011 at 20:18 | Permalink

    @Paul: gosh, thanks! I have only read one Steven Saylor book. It was extremely well written, and his knowledge of first century Rome is astonishing, but I’m not one for detective novels really, even if they’re set in Rome. However, the stand alone books do interest me – it’s just that they’re so long!

  12. Posted 23 May 2011 at 14:37 | Permalink

    I read Robert Harris book Pompeii whilst staying in Sorrento last year and managed to visit Vesuvius, Pompeii and Herculaneum. Herculaneum was amazing and would recommend the museum between the site and the station.

    New website looks great and good to see you on Facebook as well!

  13. benkane
    Posted 23 May 2011 at 14:43 | Permalink

    @charlie: wow, cool trip! Would lurrvvvve to visit those sites. Will do my damndest this summer when there to shoot some videos (more of which anon). BTW, thanks so much for your IT help. Look to your postbox. A little something was posted to you on Friday. It might be book shaped, and about a certain Carthaginian general, and be written by an Irishman 😉

  14. PaulfromEboracum
    Posted 27 May 2011 at 21:16 | Permalink

    You’re spot on about the genre, Ben, and I started these after your books thinking the Hardy Boys meet Rome. But somehow they grew on me and the fact that the main character is “investigating” great parts of Roman history – Ciceros first trial, Catalina, the murder of Clodius, Pompey and Caesar – makes you believe that you are the investigator. Clever eh? The two longer books are great fun too, following two families through the history of Rome. Seriously well worth a read!

  15. benkane
    Posted 27 May 2011 at 21:30 | Permalink

    @Paul: clever, but also annoying sometimes. I was reading one of them and kept thinking to myself “How can this person keep being right there at the exact time Caesar/Pompey/Cicer does something?” I know my characters do that too, but not all the time!

  16. Posted 3 June 2011 at 02:07 | Permalink

    Thank you so much ben and sorry for late responses I am hardly at a computer which drives me crazy because I’m dyimg to type away with my trilogy I’m working on.

  17. benkane
    Posted 3 June 2011 at 07:31 | Permalink

    @cereza671: sorry to hear that you’ve been deprived of a computer. Not something I’d want to be without for long.

  18. Posted 7 June 2011 at 07:08 | Permalink

    Its very hard lol that’s where all my roman research and notes were located I wasnt able to update my usb when my computer broke down on me :'(
    In other news, im very excited to see what else ur working on, havent been able to check that site u suggested to me about buying books but will do shortly! I want to see your take on Hannibal.
    Question: What was your inspiration for the forgotten legion and your characters?

  19. benkane
    Posted 7 June 2011 at 09:51 | Permalink

    @cereza671: yikes, that sounds grim. Computer fry ups are no fun.

    Hannibal is out in 2 days here! The pre publication from retailers is looking very strong too, which is wonderful news 🙂

    My inspiration for The Forgotten Legion and its characters: phew, how long have you got?

    Well, I first heard about the legionaries who’d been taken prisoner after Carrhae when I was visiting the former Soviet republic, now independent state of Turkmenistan back in 1997. Having read Colin Thubron’s wonderful book, The Lost Heart of Asia, I was following part of the ancient Silk Road from Iran to China. In Turkmenistan, I went to see the ruins of Merv, which had formerly been called Antiochia when it was founded by Alexander. There was a single line in the guidebook about some Roman soldiers having ended up there in 53 BC, and I thought to myself that this was very odd. Italy was thousands of miles away. I did some research when I got home and found that the information was true.

    Cut forward to 2001, when I was working in Northumberland, England during the terrible Foot & Mouth Disease outbreak. I came up with the idea then of writing a book about Roman soldiers on Hadrian’s Wall. By 2003, I had actually done this. I spent 2 years tinkering with the manuscript. However, when I got signed by an agent in early 2006, one of the first things he said to me was that my novel didn’t have enough scope. A brainstorming session restored the memory of Merv, and the idea of following some survivors of Carrhae on their journey east. More deep thought produced the idea of Caesar not being quite the nice guy everyone thinks he is, and then the twins came onto the scene. I needed someone to stay in Rome, so that the reader could know what was happening there while the main hero was elsewhere. Romulus’ two mentors seemed to come from nowhere really, other than the fact that he needed someone to help him, being so young at the outset. Maybe it was because the Etruscans have interested me for a long time; so much of what Rome became was possibly Etruscan in origin. I’ve also loved the Gauls ever since I first read Asterix.

  20. Posted 8 June 2011 at 07:43 | Permalink

    Im amazed about how much one person can learn just by reading a paragraph or two. I temember as I read the series, I kept repeatedly asking myself: where does he come up with this stuff? I literally felt like I was there with them especially in the last book. I believe my interest came out of nowhere for roman history to be honest. I dont even remembering when I started reading up on caesar. but I do know that I took a deeper looking when the movie king arthur came out. The idea of arthur being a roman general seemed so fitting.

    Anyways back to your comment, the places you mentioned ive honestly never really heard of except for china and iran so ill definitely take a look at those other places youve mentioned. Have you ever considered doing a book on Alexander? I know hes a pretty popular icon to write about but with how you wrote the forgotten legion I could just see you writing atleast as one of his soldiers in his army fighting with him. Thats definitely an idea, unless of course you know of a book similar to that idea, that I could read. Id love to hear a 3rd party view of alexander, especially someone who followed him everywhere.

  21. benkane
    Posted 8 June 2011 at 09:02 | Permalink

    @cereza671: Thanks for your comment. A book on Alexander? Don’t know if I’d dare. He was so amazing, I’d be terrified of making a mess of it. Good books about his soldiers: you’re in real luck – look up Christian Cameron and Steven Pressfield!

  22. Posted 9 June 2011 at 04:09 | Permalink

    Nooooo dont feel that way, I have faith that you would do a superb job! I believe when the time comes so will you 🙂

  23. benkane
    Posted 9 June 2011 at 15:33 | Permalink

    @cereza671: hmmm. We’ll see!

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