Before Robert Harris's Imperium and Conn Iggulden's Troy came Hannibal, bringing alive on of the greatest heroes of the ancient world
Ross Leckie is the author of the trilogy of historical novels, Hannibal, Scipio and Carthage, and of Aristotle's Alchemy. He lives in Edinburgh.
"A battle is like lust. The frenzy passes. Consequence remains." So reflects the 65-year-old Hannibal as he recounts the trials of a battle commander's life in British writer's Leckie's first novel. Readers may already be somewhat acquainted with the warlord's record: how the Carthaginian was born and bred to become the leader of a great army, how he marched toward Rome in the company of thousands of mercenaries and elephants, crossing the Alps in a legendary winter of privation. Less familiar will be the portrait of Hannibal as a lover (of Similce, a Spanish woman whom he marries) or as an introspective man well-versed in the Greek philosophers. Published to fine reviews in England, Leckie's fictional memoir is written in a simple, visceral style that brings a raw immediacy to descriptions of ancient battle. The Oxford-trained author, who drew on many classical sources, is as authoritative about crucifixions and the torture of pregnant women as he is about the details of the great warrior's brilliant military strategies. Leckie seeks not to bury Hannibal in analysis but to portray him. He gives readers a taste of an outsized man whose obsession to conquer Rome made him as bloodthirsty as he was bold. This is a ripping good read whose lesson in ancient history is yet another reward. (Oct.)
* A tremendous story told with great verve and gusto. Compelling and convincing, this is a truly remarkable novel in the class of I, Claudius. -- Allan Massie * In Leckie's descriptions it's possible to smell the stench of sweat and fear, hear the roars of warhorses and elephants, see the blood-stained armour. Informative and utterly compelling. The Times * Its triumph is to bring the world of Carthage to life again. -- James Michie Spectator