The Forgotten Legion: The Forgotten Legion Chronicles, Volume 1 (Novels of the Forgotten Legion)

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9780099556282: The Forgotten Legion: The Forgotten Legion Chronicles, Volume 1 (Novels of the Forgotten Legion)

An epic Roman novel which follows three men and one woman bound in servitude to the Republic.

Romulus and Fabiola are twins, born into slavery after their mother is raped by a drunken nobleman. At thirteen-years-old, they are sold — Romulus to gladiator school, Fabiola into prostitution where she will catch the eye of one of the most powerful men in Rome.

Tarquinius is an Etruscan warrior and soothsayer, and an enemy of Rome, but doomed to fight for the Republic in the Forgotten Legion. Brennus is a Gaul; the Romans killed his entire family. He rises to become one of the most famous and feared gladiators of his day — and mentor to the boy slave, Romulus, who dreams night and day of escape and revenge.

The lives of the four are bound together into a marvellous story which begins in a Rome riven by corruption, violence and politics, and ends far away at the very border of the known world.


From the Hardcover edition.

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

About the Author:

Ben Kane was born in Kenya and raised there and in Ireland. He studied veterinary medicine at University College Dublin, but after that, he travelled the world extensively, indulging his passion for ancient history. Now he lives in North Somerset, where he researches, writes and practises as a small animal vet. The Forgotten Legion, born of a lifelong fascination with military history in general, and Roman history in particular, is his first novel.


From the Hardcover edition.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

THE FORGOTTEN LEGION (Chapter 1)

Tarquinius

NORTHERN ITALY, 70 BC

The raven hopped onto the dead lamb's head and stared at Tarquinius. He was still more than fifty paces away. It croaked scornfully and pecked at the staring eyeball with its powerful beak. The lamb was no more than three days old, its meager flesh already devoured by mountain wolves.

Tarquinius stooped, picked up a small rock, and fitted it to his sling. A slight figure with blond hair, he wore a loose thigh-length tunic, belted at the waist. Sturdy sandals clad his feet.

"Spare the bird. He did not kill the lamb." Olenus Aesar adjusted his worn leather hat, flattening the blunt peak. "Corvus is only taking what remains."

"I don't like it eating the eyes." Preparing to release, Tarquinius swung the hide strap in a slow circle.

The old man fell silent, shielding his eyes from the sun. He spent a long time gazing at the broad wingtips of buzzards hanging on the warm thermals and the clouds farther above.

Tarquinius watched intently, holding back the stone. Since the soothsayer had picked him as a student years before, the young Etruscan had learned to pay attention to everything he said and did.

Olenus shrugged bony shoulders under his rough woollen cloak. "Not a good day to kill a sacred bird."

"Why not?" With a sigh, he let the sling drop to his side. "What is it now?"

"Go right ahead, boy." Olenus smiled, infuriating Tarquinius. "Do what you want." He waved expansively at the raven. "Your path is your own."

"I am not a boy." Tarquinius scowled and let the rock fall. "I'm twenty-five!"

He scowled briefly, then let out a piercing whistle and gestured with one arm. A black and white dog lying close by sprinted off in a wide arc up the steep hillside, eyes fixed on a group of sheep and goats nibbling short grass far above. They spotted him immediately and began moving farther up.

The raven finished its meal and flapped off.

Tarquinius gazed after it balefully. "Why shouldn't I have killed that damn bird?"

"We are standing above what was the temple of Tinia. The most powerful of our gods..." Olenus paused for effect.

Looking down, Tarquinius noticed a red clay tile protruding from the soil.

"And the number of buzzards above is twelve."

Tarquinius's eyes searched the sky, counting. "Why do you always speak in riddles?"

Olenus tapped his lituus, a small crooked staff, on the broken tile. "Not the first time today, is it?"

"I know twelve is our people's sacred number, but..." Tarquinius watched the dog, which had begun herding the flock toward them as he wished. "What has that got to do with the raven?"

"That lamb was the twelfth this morning."

Tarquinius did a quick calculation. "But I didn't tell you about the one in the gully earlier," he said with amazement.

"And Corvus wanted to feed right where sacrifices used to take place," the haruspex added enigmatically. "Best leave him in peace, eh?"

Tarquinius frowned, frustrated that he had not noticed the buzzards first and made the link with the location. He had been too busy thinking about killing wolves.

It was time to hunt some down. Rufus Caelius, his evil-tempered master, tolerated these excursions only because he could question Tarquinius afterward about Olenus and the state of his flocks. The noble would be displeased to hear about further losses, and Tarquinius was already dreading his return to the latifundium, Caelius's huge estate at the foot of the mountain.

"How did you know about the lamb in the gully?"

"What have I spent all these years teaching you? Observe everything!" Olenus turned around, seeing what was no longer there. "This was the center of the mighty city of Falerii. Tarchun, the founder of Etruria, marked out its sacred borders with a bronze plow, over a mile from here. Four hundred years ago, where we are standing would have been thronged with Etruscan people going about their daily business."

Tarquinius tried to imagine the scene as the haruspex had described it so many times--the magnificent buildings and temples dedicated to the Vestal Virgins, the wide streets paved with lava blocks. He pictured the cheering crowds at boxing contests, racing, and gladiator fights. Nobles presenting wreaths to victorious contestants, presiding over banquets in great feasting halls.

His eyes cleared. All that remained of Falerii, one of the jewels of Etruria, was a few fallen pillars and innumerable pieces of broken tile. The depth of its decline was brought home to him all over again. Long association with the haruspex meant that his people's history was ever painful. "They took our whole way of life, didn't they?" Tarquinius spat angrily. "Roman civilization has completely copied the Etruscan."

"Right down to the trumpets announcing the start of ceremonies and battle maneuvers," Olenus added wryly. "They stole it all. After destroying us."

"Sons of whores! What gives them the right?"

"It was preordained in the heavens, Tarquinius. You know all this." Olenus stared at the young man before taking in the view that fell away to the east and south. A lake at the bottom of the mountain glistened, reflecting the sun's rays with blinding intensity. "Here we are in the heartland of ancient Etruria." Olenus smiled. "Lake Vadimon at our feet, the foundations of the sacred city below."

"We are almost the last purebred Etruscans on earth," said Tarquinius bitterly. Defeated and then assimilated by the Romans, few families had continued to marry only others of their kind. His had. And generation after generation, the ancient secrets and rituals had been handed from one haruspex to another. Olenus was one of a long line stretching back to the heyday of Etruscan power.

"It was our destiny to be conquered," Olenus replied. "Remember that when the foundation stone of the temple was laid many centuries ago..."

"A bleeding head was found in the soil."

"My predecessor, Calenus Olenus Aesar, stated it foretold that the people would rule all of Italy."

"And he was wrong. Look at us now!" cried Tarquinius. "Little better than slaves." There were almost no Etruscans left with any political power or influence. Instead they were poor farmers or, like Tarquinius and his family, workers on large estates.

"Calenus was the best haruspex in our history. He could read the liver like no other!" Olenus waved his gnarled hands excitedly. "That man knew what the Etruscans could not--or would not--understand at the time. Our cities never unified, and so when Rome grew powerful enough, they were defeated one by one. Although it took over a hundred and fifty years, Calenus's prediction proved correct."

"He meant those who crushed us."

Olenus nodded.

"Bastard Romans." Tarquinius flung a stone after the raven, now long gone.

Little did he know the haruspex secretly admired his speed and power. The rock flew fast enough to kill any man it struck.

"A hard thing to accept, even for me," sighed Olenus.

"Especially the way they lord it over us." The young Etruscan swigged from a leather water bag and passed it to his mentor. "Where is the cave from here?"

"Not far." The haruspex drank deeply. "Today is not the day, however."

"You've dragged me all the way up here for nothing? I thought you were going to show me the liver and sword!"

"I was," replied Olenus mildly. The old man turned and began to walk downhill, humming as he used the lituus to steady himself. "But the omens are not good today. It would be best if you return to the latifundium."

It had been eight years since he first heard of the gladius of Tarquin, the last Etruscan king of Rome and the bronze liver, one of only a few such templates for soothsayers to learn their art. Tarquinius was chafing to see the ancient metal artifact. It had been the subject of so many lessons, but he knew better than to argue with Olenus, and a few more days would make little difference. He hitched his pack higher, checking that all the sheep and goats had come down.

"I need a trip up here with my bow anyway. Spend a few days killing wolves." Tarquinius affected a nonchalant tone. "You can't let the bastards think that they can get away with it."

Olenus grunted in reply.

Tarquinius rolled his eyes with frustration. He wouldn't get to see the liver until the haruspex was good and ready. Whistling the dog to heel, he followed Olenus down the narrow track.

Tarquinius left the haruspex sleeping in the little hut halfway down the mountain, the dog curled up by his feet, wood crackling gently in the fireplace. Even though it was a balmy summer night, Olenus's bones had felt the chill.

The young man picked his way along well-used paths through the sprawling fields, olive groves, and vineyards that surrounded Caelius's enormous villa. When he finally reached it, the thick limestone walls were still warm from the sun.

The slaves' miserable shacks and the simple farm buildings housing indentured workers were situated to the rear of the main complex. He reached these quarters without seeing a soul. Most people rose at dawn and went to bed by sunset, making escape and return in darkness relatively easy.

Tarquinius paused at the entrance to the small courtyard and peered into the gloom, seeing nothing.

A voice broke the silence.

"Where have you been all day?"

"Who's there?" Tarquinius hissed.

"Lucky the foreman's asleep. You'd get a beating otherwise!"

He relaxed. "Olenus was teaching me about our ancestors, Father. That's far more important than digging in the fields."

"Why bother?" A short, fat man wove into view, clutching an amphora. "We Etruscans are finished. The butcher Sulla made sure of that."

Tarquinius sighed. This was an old argument. Sensing their chance to regain some autonomy, many of the remaining Etruscan families and clans had joined Marius's forces in the civil war nearly two decades previously. It had been a calculated gamble that had gone spectacularly wrong. Thousands of their people had died. "Marius lost. So did we," he whispered. "It doesn't mean that the ancient ways need to be forgotten."

"It was the last opportunity for us to rise up and reclaim ancient glory!"

"You're drunk. Again."

"At least I did a full day's work," his father replied. "You just follow that eccentric fool, listening to ramblings and lies."

Tarquinius lowered his voice. "They're not lies! Olenus teaches me secret rituals and knowledge. Someone has to remember. Before it is all forgotten."

"Do what you will. The Republic cannot be stopped now." Sergius noisily slurped some wine. "Nothing can stop its damned legions."

"Go back to bed."

His father stared at the shrine in the far corner of the courtyard. It was where he spent his sober moments. All its oil lamps had gone out. "Even our gods have abandoned us," he muttered.

Tarquinius pushed the unresisting figure toward the family's small, damp cell. Wine had reduced the once proud warrior to a lonely, morose drunkard. Just a few years previously his father had been secretly teaching him to use weapons. Tarquinius was now equally proficient with a gladius or an Etruscan battleaxe.

With a groan, Sergius collapsed onto the straw mattress he shared with Fulvia, Tarquinius's mother. Instantly he began to snore. The young man lay down on the other side of the room and listened to the loud noise. Tarquinius was worried about his father: At the rate Sergius was drinking, he would not live for more than a few years.

It was a long time before Tarquinius slept, and then he dreamed vividly.

He was watching Olenus sacrifice a lamb in an unfamiliar cave, cutting its belly open to read the entrails. Looking around the dark space, he could see no sign of the bronze liver or sword that Olenus had spoken about so many times.

The old man's face changed as he scanned the animal's organs. Tarquinius called out, but could not get Olenus's attention. His mentor seemed totally unaware of him and instead was fearfully watching the mouth of the cave.

It was impossible to see what was scaring Olenus so much. The haruspex had placed the dark red liver on a slab of basalt and was studying it intently. Every so often he would pause and gaze outside, his fear apparently lessening each time. After what seemed an age, Olenus nodded happily and sat back against the wall, waiting.

Despite his mentor's apparent contentment, Tarquinius now felt a strong sense of impending dread, which intensified until it was unbearable.

He ran to the entrance.

Peering down a steep mountain slope, he saw Caelius ascending with ten legionaries, each face fixed and grim. All the men held drawn swords. In front of them ran a pack of large hunting dogs.

"Run, Olenus! Run!" Tarquinius cried.

At last the soothsayer turned with a look of recognition. "Run?" He cackled. "I'd break my neck out there."

"Soldiers are coming to kill you! Caelius is guiding them."

Olenus's eyes held no trace of fear.

"You must flee. Now!"

"It is my time, Tarquinius. I am going to join our ancestors. You are the last haruspex."

"Me?" Tarquinius was shocked. Through all the years of teaching, it had never occurred to him that he was being groomed to succeed the old man.

Olenus nodded gravely.

"The liver and sword?"

"You have them both already."

"No! I don't!" Tarquinius gesticulated frantically.

Again Olenus seemed not to hear. He stood up and began walking toward the figures at the mouth of the cave.

Tarquinius felt somebody grab his arm. The cave receded slowly from view as he swam into consciousness. He was desperate to know what had happened to Olenus, but could see no more. The young Etruscan woke with a start. His mother was standing over the bed, looking concerned.

"Tarquinius?"

"It was nothing," he muttered, his heart racing. "Go back to sleep, Mother. You need to rest."

"Your shouts woke me," she answered reproachfully. "Father would have woken, too, if he wasn't drunk."

Tarquinius's stomach clenched. Olenus had always said never to mention anything he taught. "What was I saying?"

"Hard to make out. Something about Olenus and a bronze liver. The last of those was lost years ago." Fulvia frowned. "Has the old rascal laid hands on one?"

"He's not said a thing," Tarquinius replied smoothly. "Go back to bed. You have to be up at dawn."

He helped Fulvia across the room, wincing at her stooped back and at how much effort it took for her to climb into the low cot. Long years of hard labor had crippled his mother's body.

"My strong, clever Arun.&q...

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Book Description Cornerstone, United Kingdom, 2011. Paperback. Book Condition: New. 194 x 130 mm. Language: English . Brand New Book. The Forgotten Legion - fighting for honour, freedom and revenge. Romulus and Fabiola are twins, born into slavery after their mother is raped by a drunken nobleman. At thirteen years old they are sold - Romulus to gladiator school, Fabiola into prostitution, where she will catch the eye of one of the most powerful men in Rome. Tarquinius is an Etruscan, a warrior and soothsayer, born enemy of Rome, but doomed to fight for the Republic in the Forgotten Legion. Brennus is a Gaul, his entire family killed by the Romans, and he rises to become one of the most famous and feared gladiators of his day. The lives of these characters are bound and interwoven in an odyssey which begins in a Rome riven by political corruption and violence, but ends far away, at the very border of the known world, where the tattered remnants of a once-huge Roman army - the Forgotten Legion - will fight against overwhelming odds, and the three men will meet their destiny. Ben Kane was born in Kenya and raised there and in Ireland. He studied veterinary medicine at University College Dublin but after that he travelled the world extensively, indulging his passion for ancient history. Now he lives in North Somerset, where he researches, writes and practices as a small animal vet. The Forgotten Legion, born of a lifelong fascination with military history in general, and Roman history in particular, is his first novel. Bookseller Inventory # AAZ9780099556282

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Book Description Cornerstone, United Kingdom, 2011. Paperback. Book Condition: New. 194 x 130 mm. Language: English . Brand New Book. The Forgotten Legion - fighting for honour, freedom and revenge. Romulus and Fabiola are twins, born into slavery after their mother is raped by a drunken nobleman. At thirteen years old they are sold - Romulus to gladiator school, Fabiola into prostitution, where she will catch the eye of one of the most powerful men in Rome. Tarquinius is an Etruscan, a warrior and soothsayer, born enemy of Rome, but doomed to fight for the Republic in the Forgotten Legion. Brennus is a Gaul, his entire family killed by the Romans, and he rises to become one of the most famous and feared gladiators of his day. The lives of these characters are bound and interwoven in an odyssey which begins in a Rome riven by political corruption and violence, but ends far away, at the very border of the known world, where the tattered remnants of a once-huge Roman army - the Forgotten Legion - will fight against overwhelming odds, and the three men will meet their destiny. Ben Kane was born in Kenya and raised there and in Ireland. He studied veterinary medicine at University College Dublin but after that he travelled the world extensively, indulging his passion for ancient history. Now he lives in North Somerset, where he researches, writes and practices as a small animal vet. The Forgotten Legion, born of a lifelong fascination with military history in general, and Roman history in particular, is his first novel. Bookseller Inventory # AAZ9780099556282

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Book Description Cornerstone. Paperback. Book Condition: new. BRAND NEW, The Forgotten Legion: (The Forgotten Legion Chronicles No. 1), Ben Kane, The Forgotten Legion - fighting for honour, freedom and revenge. Romulus and Fabiola are twins, born into slavery after their mother is raped by a drunken nobleman. At thirteen years old they are sold - Romulus to gladiator school, Fabiola into prostitution, where she will catch the eye of one of the most powerful men in Rome. Tarquinius is an Etruscan, a warrior and soothsayer, born enemy of Rome, but doomed to fight for the Republic in the Forgotten Legion. Brennus is a Gaul, his entire family killed by the Romans, and he rises to become one of the most famous and feared gladiators of his day. The lives of these characters are bound and interwoven in an odyssey which begins in a Rome riven by political corruption and violence, but ends far away, at the very border of the known world, where the tattered remnants of a once-huge Roman army - the Forgotten Legion - will fight against overwhelming odds, and the three men will meet their destiny. Ben Kane was born in Kenya and raised there and in Ireland. He studied veterinary medicine at University College Dublin but after that he travelled the world extensively, indulging his passion for ancient history. Now he lives in North Somerset, where he researches, writes and practices as a small animal vet. The Forgotten Legion, born of a lifelong fascination with military history in general, and Roman history in particular, is his first novel. Bookseller Inventory # B9780099556282

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