Autumn 217 BC
Losing the war against Hannibal, the desperate Roman senate appoint a Dictator, Fabius to command their legions.
A wily Hannibal uses Fabius’s avoidance of pitched battle to trick him then succeeds in tempting his second in command to fight and ambushes him not far from Geronium where a savage battle ensues.
Captain Baldor Targa, having fought bravely at Ager Falernus and Geronium now seeks his woman, Lasairiona and the men who abducted her and robbed him. The trail leads him and his comrades, Andulas and Armaco back into Roman territory and to a new enemy. Meanwhile, an old enemy becomes an ally, while yet another plots his death.
Summer 216 BC
Resting over winter and spring, Rome raises more legions under two new Consuls. With a huge army, they follow Hannibal seeking the right ground to bring him to battle in a bid to end the war.
Baldor’s nemesis Cornelius Scipio, whilst suffering horror at Geronium and frustration at his nation’s recurring defeats receives good news from home and a promotion to Tribune.
Against this background of savage war: friendship, love, hate and feud will play out whilst both nations approach battle on the plain of Cannae.
This is the best one so far! At the end of the last volume, poor Baldor has lost his woman (she was kidnapped), and everything else that belonged to him including his precious sword. The perpetrator is still at large, and, worst or all, Baldor is in Hannibal’s bad graces. He has a lot to overcome! All this time, Hannibal’s army must keep moving, and for a while it looks like the Romans might have gotten the better of the Carthaginians. But the Roman army is at the mercy of its leaders, and we get to learn just what General Fabius is all about—and why Fabian tactics have made such an impression on historians. Unfortunately for the Romans, Hannibal figured him out pretty quickly:
“If Fabius were to move and if it looks like he could cut us off, we’ll make a stand. However, I tell you, this is Fabius, Fabius the cautious who is expecting to be tricked so we’ll oblige and trick him into doing nothing. As you all know, he is happiest doing nothing.” He had to hush the men as laughter broke out. “Don’t think me overconfident or that I underestimate him, I don’t! He is far wiser and has caused us more trouble than his predecessors. However, I’m sure that I’ve judged him aright and caution will hold him in check.”
Need I say more? Hannibal manages to outsmart the enemy once again, but Fabius’s command comes to an end and other, more aggressive generals replace him. Our Carthaginians are in a tight situation, and before long they must face the Romans who are ready for a direct confrontation and outnumber them dramatically. In all this fighting, Baldor’s alter nemesis Cornelius Scipio continues to squirm under the command of ineffective leaders. We know he is going to rise as Rome’s savior, but not in this book. And once again, he finds himself at Baldor’s mercy, though once again, Baldor can’t bring himself to put an end to his life. Interesting relationship! Oh, and our hero does get the chance to sort out his personal problems, to my great satisfaction. It’s good reading. I wouldn’t consider this a stand-alone, but it’s certainly worth checking out the previous books.
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