David Anthony Durham, Author . Doubleday $26.95 (576p) ISBN 978-0-385-50603-8

Known for his novels of African-American life in 19th-century America (Gabriel's Story ; Walk Through Darkness ), Durham leaps continents and centuries to tell the epic story of Hannibal and his march on Rome in this heady, richly textured novel. After Hannibal assumes command of the Carthaginian army in Spain and conquers the Roman city of Saguntum, Carthage refuses to accept Rome's demand that it abandon the city, precipitating the Second Punic War. In 218 B.C., Hannibal begins his daring march toward Rome, leading an army of upward of 100,000—complete with elephants and cavalry—over the Pyrenees, across the Rhône and through the snowcapped Alps. Ill prepared for the frigid weather, pummeled by avalanches and harassed by Celtic tribes, the army arrives in Italy reduced to perhaps 30,000. Against all odds, Hannibal brings his soldiers through the tortuous marshes of the Arno, and traps and massacres a large Roman force at Lake Trasimene and again at Cannae. The novel's grand sweep is balanced by intimate portraits of Hannibal, his family, his allies and his enemies, as well as by the stories of two humble characters: Imco Vaca, a soldier, and Aradna, a camp follower, who meet and fall in love as the saga moves inexorably toward an account of the beheading of Hannibal's brother and Hannibal's eventual defeat at the gates of Rome. Durham weaves abundant psychological, military and political detail into this vivid account of one of the most romanticized periods of history. (Jan. 18)

Forecast: This will come as a surprise to fans of Durham's previous two novels, who won't necessarily find the subject matter congenial, but it should be easy to hand-sell to readers of classical and military historical fiction.

Reviewed on: 10/18/2004
Release date: 01/01/2005
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 568 pages - 978-0-385-72249-0
Ebook - 372 pages - 978-0-307-27699-5
Show other formats
Discover what to read next