Review: In Hannibal’s Shadow by Garrett Pearson


Midwinter 218 BC the ‘Lion’s Cubs’ are loose in the ‘She Wolf’s’ den.Hannibal and the Carthaginian army, victorious from the battle of Ticinus seek further combat with the Romans. Publius Scipio and his Legions, shocked at their defeat, have fallen back and encamped beside the River Trebbia, awaiting reinforcement by his Co-Consul, Tiberius Sempronius Longus and his army.Baldor, newly promoted and on a recruiting mission amongst the Gallic tribes, becomes embroiled in a murderous skirmish and blood feud between the Cenomani and Lingone Gauls. Meanwhile, Hannibal begins baiting his trap and setting an ambush by the Trebbia using the intemperate, impulsive character of Tiberius to lure the Legions to battle. Baldor fights at the Trebbia amidst freezing temperatures and hailstorms, the Romans losing thousands, he losing more comrades while once again encountering his nemesis, Cornelius Scipio.In Carthage, Baldor’s powerful enemy continues to seek his demise, issuing a new warrant for his arrest. Hidden within a Gallic unit, safe from Carthaginian authorities and his enemy’s spleen, he’s given command of a raiding force tasked with destruction of the Cenomani fortress, Victumulae. As battle turns to blood feud, he must use weapon skills and his wits if he’s to survive and be victorious.

My Review

In Book Two, we follow Hannibal’s army as it moves toward Rome. This is one busy campaign! First, we have a mid-winter battle at the River Trebbia, where Hannibal lures the Romans out of their camp and divides his forces, attacking them from several angles. This is a major achievement for the Carthaginians but we are only halfway through the book! Our Baldor is given a command where he is to overcome a Gallic tribe in order to assure the support of their enemy. Although he doesn’t feel ready, he leads a small force that lay siege to the town of Victumulae, though things certainly did not go his way:

He saw his men’s actions changing from belligerently offensive to defensive. The attack was stalling, losing ferocity and impetus as men fought to stay alive and survive. The tide of battle was flowing against them and he quickly considered his options. Blinking to clear the sweat that streamed from under his helmet, he instinctively ducked as the head of the man next to him exploded when a slingshot burst it like a ripe melon. Grimacing and swearing, he wiped the hot blood and grey-jelly substance that splattered his face, neck and corselet. Horrified at the carnage and chaos and for which he felt responsible he realised enough was enough. He knew now what Hannibal meant about experience teaching him and he grabbed his signaller roughly by the shoulder.

But Baldor isn’t beaten so easily, and his natural belligerence and strength—and skill—hold him in good stead. Although he often doubts himself, his followers, for the most part, have absolute faith in him. The ones that don’t eventually come to terms. In many ways this is a coming of age story, though most of us wouldn’t want to face his odds. Baldor feels many regrets, and quite a few of his friends don’t survive. He feels responsible for every death. All the while he grows stronger as a warrior, though I think he would have preferred to trade his successes for the quiet life he experienced at the beginning of book one. Alas, our author has other ideas!

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