Durham's previous books, Walk Through Darkness and Gabriel's Story, were beautifully executed dramas set in the 19th century and grounded firmly in American history. His majestic new novel departs from this familiar territory to tackle the second Punic War and the career of Hannibal, the great leader of the Carthaginian army. The novel opens in Spain, where Hannibal takes command of his troops and prepares to march on Rome. Leading a retinue of more than 100,000, including horseman and elephants, he crosses the Pyrenees, the Rhone and the Alps in a grand procession. But along the way, the army faces freezing weather, rockslides and attacks by fierce Celtic bands, and by the time Hannibal reaches Italy he has lost more than half of his troops. Scenes straight from the history books, including Hannibal's defeat outside of Rome, are replayed brilliantly here. Durham adds appealing subplots to the main storyline, including a love affair between a soldier, Imco Vaca, and a young member of the camp named Aradna. Blending historical and fictional components, he creates a detailed portrayal of the brave commander and his family. An ambitious novel that succeeds on every level, Durham's daring epic brings a distant era vividly to life.
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