The book “Hannibal. Fields of Blood” by Ben Kane is the second volume of the historical novel set during the Second Punic War. The main characters (Quintus, Hanno, Fabricius) take part in the most important events of the conflict, this time allowing the reader to discover what it looked like, among others. the Battle of the Trebia, the Battle of Lake Trasimeno, and the Battle of Cannae.
Of course, the author – as in the previous part – separated separate threads: one tells the war through the eyes of the Romans (Quintus, Fabricius, Corax); the second shows the battles through the eyes of the Carthaginians (Hanno, Sapho, Bostar); the third concerns Aurelia’s marriage and the fight for the indebted family home. This variety of plots and the multitude of characters allows the author to keep the reader’s vigilance and maintain constant tension in the novel.
Quintus, after successive defeats of the Romans, against his father’s decision, remains in the Roman army and of his own free will degrades to a unit of velites (javelin throwers), who start frolicking before the battle. From his perspective, we have a chance to see what the massacre on Lake Trasimeno looked like and how part of the Roman army broke through the Punian army. Then, as a hastatus, he again takes part in the heart of the battle, this time near Cannae, from which he is able to get out thanks to his commander. Of course, there are elements of rivalry and revenge in the Roman camp.
Hanno, like his brothers, holds an important position in the Carthaginian army. He is still trying to prove his combat value to Hannibal, who in the eyes of the Carthaginian soldiers and mercenaries appears as a brilliant strategist and leader. There is no shortage of drastic scenes of torture or secret meetings between Hanno and Aurelia.
As in the previous part, Ben Kane shows an extremely broad knowledge of the ancient military. The abundance of terms and Latin vocabulary allows the reader to find himself in the ancient world. The author perfectly reflects the chaos that prevailed in Italy and the maneuvers of the troops during the tracking of Hannibal by the dictator Fabius.
However, there were some issues in my opinion that could have been further elaborated. Certainly, the threads related to Aurelia could be expanded or colored. Unfortunately, the power of war and the complex processes at the front meant that any chapters related to getting married or fighting for a home were a bit long for me. What’s more, the author seems to me that he treated the most important battles of this part – on Lake Trasimeno and at Cannae – too quickly. Unfortunately, I missed something here and I leave with a slight hunger because the possibilities in terms of these great battles are huge.
Despite everything, taking into account the volume of the book and the professionalism of the author, I rate the book very positively. People who started the first volume should reach for the next part and follow this incredible period in the history of the world.