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Friday, February 18, 2005

Booklist Review - Starred!

Booklist has also been kind to me. This makes three starred reviews for Pride of Carthage (out of a possible four) from the industry magazines. Kirkus actually gave me the best review, although they held back the star. No worries, though. I'm more than happy. This also means that I've gotten seven starred reviews for my first three novels. Very happy about that.

*Starred Review* Durham, the author of Gabriel's Story (2001), has crafted a grand recounting of the second Punic War. Fresh off a victory in Arbocala, Hannibal Barca, the great Carthaginian warrior, has set his sights on Saguntum, an ally of the growing Roman Empire. An attack on Saguntum will ultimately bring on a war with Rome, but this is what Hannibal longs for. Aided by his brothers, envious Hanno, pleasure-loving Hasdrubal, and shrewd Mago, Hannibal manages to sack the impenetrable city and with the blessing of Carthage begins the long march to Rome that will take him past treacherous Gauls, forbidding mountains, and inhospitable marshes. Durham depicts the great general as a fully rounded, complicated man: he's both a larger-than-life hero, propelled by his great ambition, and an ordinary man, who longs to be by his wife's side and regrets missing his beloved son's childhood. To give the reader a fuller picture of the war from all sides, Durham does not shortchange the lesser players in this great war: he develops characters such as Imco Vaca, a young man in Hannibal's army, who is ill-equipped for war; maimed Tusselo, seeking revenge against the Romans who enslaved him; and Aradna, a much-abused young woman who shadows the army. Durham's epic is truly a big, magnificent, sprawling story complete with a sizable cast of compelling characters, intricately drawn battle scenes, and fluid, graceful prose.

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Wednesday, February 02, 2005

My Library Journal... Starred!

Library Journal was good to Pride of Carthage. Here's what they said...

The name Hannibal evokes ancient Rome, elephants crossing the Alps, and, ultimately, tragedy. In a dramatic change from the 19th-century American settings of his previous novels (e.g., Gabriel's Story), Durham's latest offers a rich, exciting, and panoramic view of the legendary Carthaginian general who almost conquered Rome. Hannibal is portrayed as heroically devoted to the North African city of Carthage, Rome's biggest rival, yet also as a man with human weaknesses. Life was brutal and bloody, and the novel does not gloss over the savage side of Hannibal and his peers. Along with detailing various members of Hannibal's large family, Durham also depicts ordinary soldiers and does not forget the Roman perspective. An epic tale well told, this will be easily understood even by those with limited knowledge of the period and may conjure thoughts of Robert E. Lee's battles against the Union in the Civil War. Highly recommended for most historical fiction collections.

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