Wed. 9th March: A Spartacus taster…

Spartacus is in the middle of a fight to the death in the ludus. I thought you might like to read some of it. The characters on scene are: Spartacus, the Thracian he’s just killed (!), Vatia (the lanista), Phortis (his tough right hand man), Marcus Licinius Crassus and Hhhhh (the unnamed Roman politician who’s brought Crassus into the ludus to see the fight). Read on…

Fortunately for Spartacus, the warrior’s good fortune ran out before his own strength failed. His sword sliced into the side of the black-haired fighter’s belly, through the taut muscles there, to emerge red-tipped on the other side. There was a wet, soughing sound as Spartacus ripped the gladius free, and the warrior shrieked with the agony of it. With blood pouring from his wound, he staggered away, his sica nearly falling from his slack fingers. When Spartacus followed, there was little resistance. Two massive overhand blows, and the warrior had dropped his weapon. Spartacus ploughed on, pushing the other away from the curved sword, and any chance of redemption.

            The warrior was unarmed now, and the manica on his right arm was his only real defence. Knowing this, the black-haired gladiator did his best to retrieve his sica. Every attempt met with failure, however, and with each moment that passed, he grew weaker. It wasn’t long before Spartacus acted. Toying with an opponent might please some, but it was not in his nature. The fight had gone on for nearly half an hour, which in his mind, was perfectly adequate for the purpose of the display. It was time to end it.

            Shoving his shield boss at the other’s chest, he stabbed him in the left thigh. As the blade slid free, the moaning warrior collapsed to the sand. He made no attempt to get up. Looking down at him, defenceless and bleeding, Spartacus felt cold to the marrow of his bones. The warrior was one of his own, and he was about to kill him ― at the behest of those he hated. Romans. This is the way it has to be, he told himself fiercely.

            Spartacus glanced at Vatia, who turned with a questioning look to Hhhhh and Crassus. ‘Do you still wish this to be a mortal bout?’

            ‘Have I said otherwise?’ asked Crassus in an acid tone.

            ‘No,’ muttered Vatia.

            ‘Then the loser must die.’

            ‘It is as my revered guest says,’ said Hhhhh pompously. ‘That’s also what I paid you a fortune for,’ he added in an undertone.

            ‘Of course, sir,’ replied Vatia, swiftly regaining his self-control. ‘It would be my honour to ask Crassus if he wishes to make the gesture.’

            Crassus’ tongue flickered over his lips, like that of a snake. ‘Very well.’ Looking at Spartacus, he jabbed the thumb of his right hand at his own throat. ‘Iugula!’ he cried.

            The cry was repeated by most of the incarcerated gladiators. Feet hammered on the floor of the cells. Spoons clattered off the window bars. Spartacus wasn’t surprised that the ludus’ inmates approved of his victory. Their bloodlust had been raised by the fight’s intensity, and now the black-haired warrior had to pay the price. As he would have if the situation had been reversed. ‘Get up,’ he ordered.

            Groaning, the black-haired fighter managed to sit up. Fiddling with the buckle, he undid his chinstrap and tugged off his helmet. It fell unnoticed to the ground. Another effort brought him onto his knees. Spartacus inclined his head respectfully at the warrior. ‘You did very well. It was a close fight. But the Rider chose to help me, not you.’

            ‘Aye,’ replied the warrior with a weary shrug. He lifted his head up, exposing his throat. ‘Make it swift.’

            Spartacus looked up at the sky. ‘I offer this man’s life to you, Great Rider.’ Carefully taking aim, he thrust his gladius down into the hollow at the base of the warrior’s neck. The man’s eyes opened wide with shock as the razor sharp iron slid through his skin and the soft tissues beneath. An instant later, he was dead. Driven with immense force, Spartacus’ blade had sliced apart the major vessels around the base of the warrior’s heart. With a smooth movement, Spartacus pulled out the gladius. A thick, graceful arc of blood sprayed through the air as his opponent’s corpse fell limply to one side. It pumped out for a short time, creating a large red stain around the motionless warrior.

            Crassus began to clap in appreciation. Vatia, Phortis and the rest of those watching quickly joined in. The gladiators joined in, roaring and shouting their appreciation from their cells.

            Unmoved for once by the ovation, Spartacus stared down at the body, and the blood colouring the sand. That could so easily have been me, he thought. And then the Roman bastards would have been applauding him, while I lay dead before them.

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30 Comments

  1. Posted 9 March 2011 at 17:24 | Permalink

    …where do i turn the page…my e-reader has a button to turn the page!!

    very good a nice teaser… i want the book even more …git! 🙂

  2. benkane
    Posted 9 March 2011 at 17:31 | Permalink

    @Parmenion: Har! Glad you liked it…

  3. leslieianjones
    Posted 10 March 2011 at 04:30 | Permalink

    🙂

  4. John Salter
    Posted 10 March 2011 at 13:14 | Permalink

    Looks good Ben!

  5. John Salter
    Posted 10 March 2011 at 15:26 | Permalink

    PS! I’ve just seen another Roman novel due out for release on 1st May 2011; ‘Vespasian: Tribune of Rome’ by a new author Robert Fabbri. The story starts when he’s 16 and leaves home to join the army! Looks good!

  6. benkane
    Posted 10 March 2011 at 16:20 | Permalink

    @John: aye, I’d heard about that one a while ago. Fabbri’s a TV producer, I think. Another one for the to be read pile!

  7. Posted 10 March 2011 at 20:21 | Permalink

    added to my list as well cheers

  8. John Salter
    Posted 11 March 2011 at 09:01 | Permalink

    The Eagle trailers started on tv yesterday. Advance showings start on 23rd March in some cinema’s!

  9. John Salter
    Posted 11 March 2011 at 14:44 | Permalink

    Mark Kermode just did a review of The Eagle and amazingly he said it was very good! He’s usually a bit picky so the signs are good!

  10. Peter
    Posted 11 March 2011 at 16:23 | Permalink

    I recently bought all three of your novels on ebook format and am currently two thirds of the way into the second one. I can´t put it down! Let me know when you are releasing new novels so I can snap them up.

  11. leslieianjones
    Posted 13 March 2011 at 03:57 | Permalink

    Another Roman author to collect!!
    Currently cutting my way through 645 pages of ‘Why the West rules for now’ by Ian Morris. A little too academic for my tastes but of course there are comparissons between Rome and China. Would seem generally the more ‘cruel’ a regime was the faster it progressed in culture, society, science etc.

  12. benkane
    Posted 14 March 2011 at 15:12 | Permalink

    @Peter: Thanks! Hannibal:Enemy of Rome is out on June 9th…..

  13. benkane
    Posted 14 March 2011 at 15:13 | Permalink

    @John: I am very surprised! But that’s good to hear too…maybe it will be good after all…

  14. Muz73
    Posted 14 March 2011 at 17:26 | Permalink

    Can’t wait to read your next book 🙂

  15. tom
    Posted 14 March 2011 at 18:12 | Permalink

    this is really good, obviously. can i just say your the best roman author ive ever read and you manage to really bring the history to life. thanks and keep up the ridiulously good work! 😉

  16. benkane
    Posted 15 March 2011 at 15:42 | Permalink

    @Muz73 – thanks!! Only 2 months and 3 weeks to go…. 😉

  17. benkane
    Posted 15 March 2011 at 15:43 | Permalink

    @tom: Thank you. That’s a huge compliment. I hope that you continue to enjoy my books for years to come!

  18. robertfabbri
    Posted 15 March 2011 at 18:28 | Permalink

    Thanks for the mention Ben. I hope that you and all your readers enjoy Tribune of Rome. The second one, Rome’s Executioner, is finished and I’m now half way through the third and loving the new direction that life has taken me. I’m looking forward to Hannibal.

  19. benkane
    Posted 16 March 2011 at 10:40 | Permalink

    @robert: I’m sure we will – looking forward to it, and the very best of luck with it!

  20. John Salter
    Posted 18 March 2011 at 15:35 | Permalink

    Ben, I finally sat down and read The Ship of Rome by John Stack and was quite surprised! I think the ‘ship bit’ put me off before but the story is really good and it’s not all sea based at all, there’s legion infantry action as well on Sicily.

    I can’t recall why I stopped reading it the first time but I’m glad I gave it a second chance, I got through it in four days and considering work and sleep got in the way, that was quick!

    I also finished Eagle in the Snow and really enjoyed that as well, good old Maximus eh? I knew he’d give those nasty barbarians a good seeing too!

    I hope you’ve got your moisturiser ready for the final match in the 6 Nations! 😉

  21. benkane
    Posted 18 March 2011 at 15:42 | Permalink

    @John: glad you enjoyed both those books. Eagle in the Snow is such a classic. Most of the RAT reenactors love it above all else.

    Moisturiser? The cheek! I’ll be at the match, as it happens, with my (English) wife. One of us is going to be miserable by the end of the game. I do hope it’s not me. If it is, at least we’ve agreed in advance that she’s driving home! 😉 May the best team win (from the man whose team have thrown away two of their last three matches).

  22. Bec
    Posted 18 March 2011 at 19:57 | Permalink

    Thanks for the taster! Can’t wait for this now, and June 9th seems too far away! grrr

    What I love about reading your blog is how many historical fiction recommendations are there on every post! 😀 I won’t run out of anything to read any time soon lol, thanks everyone.

  23. benkane
    Posted 19 March 2011 at 10:53 | Permalink

    @Bec: glad you enjoyed the taster! Another great Roman HF book I read this week was The Coming of the King by Manda Scott. Tip top stuff, set in 1st century AD Judaea, and leading into the great Jewish rebellion…

  24. Posted 29 March 2011 at 11:29 | Permalink

    Oh Mr. Kane you are cruel lol. I had no idea that you were working on a Spartacus story. EXCELLENT I LOVE IT! Im literally sitting on the edge of my seat upset that you would leave us with such a big cliff hanger, more please!

    This reminds me of the famous gladiatorial fight where both gladiators fought a fierce fight and both ended up walking out with their freedom. I believe that was during the Emperor Tiberius’ reign I’m not exactly sure. Definitely a must read though I’m sure. Another great Roman History writer I came across recently is Steven Saylor, I have his book “Empire” and its a great read. Im sure you’ve heard of it as well.

  25. benkane
    Posted 29 March 2011 at 11:52 | Permalink

    @cereza671: sorry to leave you on a cliff hanger, but I’m delighted that it worked! Yes, I’m busy carving out Spartacus, the 2011 version, as we speak. It’s a rollercoaster ride! At the moment, Spartacus is just about to bust out of the ludus, the gladiator school. I might post something about that soon…

    I’ve only read one of Steven Saylor’s books, but I enjoyed it a lot. A great author. Crime’s not really my thing, that’s the only reason I didn’t read more. I’ve heard great things about Empire, though, and I don’t think that is crime, is it?

  26. Posted 31 March 2011 at 20:12 | Permalink

    No, Empire wasnt about crime from what I understood… It had a lot to do with ancient rome it did talk about several violent moments though, like the burning of rome and the execution of the christians. His book however do involve mystery but its like a mystery/crime/suspense story written during ancient roman times.

  27. benkane
    Posted 31 March 2011 at 20:35 | Permalink

    @cereza671: it sounds good. The sheer thickness of it puts me off, though, at least for the moment. I struggle to finish books that are ‘normal’ length!

  28. leslieianjones
    Posted 30 April 2011 at 17:24 | Permalink

    Both ‘Roma’ & ‘Empire’ by Steven Saylor are very good. They are indeed very thick books.

  29. irishwit77
    Posted 13 May 2011 at 01:47 | Permalink

    Just curious when is it that this book is coming out. I’m determined to read each and everyone of your books. The Forgotten Legion chronicles have got me hooked!

  30. benkane
    Posted 13 May 2011 at 14:14 | Permalink

    @Irishwit77: see note to Philip!

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