Midsummer 217 BC and the ‘She Wolf’s’ den is aflame. Having destroyed the Roman legions at the Trebbia River, Hannibal leads his men south seeking battle with the new Consuls elect, Gaius Flaminius and Gnaeus Servilius Geminus. Having outmaneuvred Flaminius the Carthaginians devastate the Etruria plain and slaughter the populace in an attempt to bring him to battle. Flaminius, though enraged at the despoliation and killing is cautious of Carthaginian trickery and remains impotent within the city of Arretium. However, as Hannibal turns towards the southeast and fertile Apulia, Flaminius finally mobilises his legions and begins the chase, Hannibal leading him on towards Lake Trasimene. Baldor Targa, now promoted to Captain by Hannibal, is beset with troubles as an old enemy and a powerful new one appear within his own ranks and add murder and robbery to his woes. Meanwhile, he and the Roman Centurion, Cornelius Scipio are destined to meet again on the field of battle as the Gods continue their perverse game of cat and mouse between the pair. Battle, blood feud, vengeance and foolish pride combine to test both Baldor and Cornelius’s resolve as they play their part in this war of giants.
In book three, the Carthaginian army continues its march toward Rome, facing down every force the Romans send against them. Hannibal is clever, bold, and unbeatable—at least for now—and he carries out unprecedented maneuvers that defy traditional logic. The Roman generals just can’t believe he won’t behave the way they want him to. Only Cornelius Scipio, with his experience of Hannibal’s tactics, sees through the Carthaginian stratagems, but due to his low rank his objections are ignored. The Romans are brought to a stand at Lake Trasimene and Cornelius finds himself face-to-face against Baldor in a deadly duel that is only interrupted by a force of nature:
“The Fates have tied us together, Baldor! As if brothers from the same womb. Destiny is at play here, the Gods watching, playing with us even. How else do you explain that?” He pointed to the lake and then the mountains. “Are we not unlike Achilles and Hector before the walls of Troy, when Apollo came between them?”
Will our two heroes ever come to terms? I can’t help but root for both of them. Baldor is in charge of his own division by now, though he is far from comfortable. Threatened by personal vendettas from his old antagonists—the family of his original enemy—dodging assassination attempts, and failing to control his temper, his life is one continuing struggle. Even Hannibal is beginning to lose patience with him. But worse is yet to come as his enemies go after those most dear to him. More in the next volume!
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