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Hannibal's Children

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An alternative history, in which Hannibal was victorious over the Romans, but decided to spare their nation. The hardy Romans travelled northwards to Norcium, and created a new Rome, where they bided their time. A century later, reborn, the Romans return to Italy to reclaim their lands and to confront again the Carthagenians.


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An alternative history, in which Hannibal was victorious over the Romans, but decided to spare their nation. The hardy Romans travelled northwards to Norcium, and created a new Rome, where they bided their time. A century later, reborn, the Romans return to Italy to reclaim their lands and to confront again the Carthagenians.

30 review for Hannibal's Children

  1. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    Instead of trouncing Hannibal and the Carthaginians (and eradicating them completely), the Romans are defeated, but given the option of leaving Rome and Italy to find a new home in Noricum (Austria, more or less). Over a hundred years later, no living Roman has seen the ocean, and Rome itself is empty. Doesn't that sound great? I thought so. It still sounded great when the Romans thriving in Noricum go south again. Gradually, but inexorably, the plot and the writing became pretty lousy, and I was Instead of trouncing Hannibal and the Carthaginians (and eradicating them completely), the Romans are defeated, but given the option of leaving Rome and Italy to find a new home in Noricum (Austria, more or less). Over a hundred years later, no living Roman has seen the ocean, and Rome itself is empty. Doesn't that sound great? I thought so. It still sounded great when the Romans thriving in Noricum go south again. Gradually, but inexorably, the plot and the writing became pretty lousy, and I was treated to an array of really obvious dea ex machinae (?) whose absence would have maybe earned this book another star. The good news is that I want to read better Roman fiction (hello, Colleen McCullough) and finally get through the Iliad. Thanks, Mr. Roberts!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Ian

    Read this about when it came out. Enjoyed the concept, the writing style (fast and interesting), but I found the Romans just a bit too, ... Roman. Almost a caricature of themselves. Far too martial to be real. However, still a fun read.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Clay Davis

    Very enjoyable alternative history involving Rome. A lot of detail on way Rome governed and how it affected the world

  4. 5 out of 5

    Lindsey

    This took an interesting idea-what would happen if Hannibal had won and Rome was defeated?-and turned it into an intriguing alternate history. In this version of history, the Romans were forced to become exiles of their own empire and had to flee into the lands of the Germanic tribes after their humiliating defeat. Fast forward several generations later and the Romans have maintained their legions and military skill by defeating and subduing all their neighboring tribes and they are ready for re This took an interesting idea-what would happen if Hannibal had won and Rome was defeated?-and turned it into an intriguing alternate history. In this version of history, the Romans were forced to become exiles of their own empire and had to flee into the lands of the Germanic tribes after their humiliating defeat. Fast forward several generations later and the Romans have maintained their legions and military skill by defeating and subduing all their neighboring tribes and they are ready for revenge and to retake Rome. It was interesting to have a story where Rome is considered the underdog and technologically backwards (the Roman diplomatic group's first encounter with the sea and ships stands out). Scipio was a fascinating and politically shrewd character. I really wanted to see what became of him so I felt the ending just left me hanging. I need to find the second book to see what his colleagues think of the unofficial assistance he gave the Egyptian Queen Selene.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Kathleen

    Entertaining but disappointed that is is fiction

  6. 4 out of 5

    Zeke Chase

    Rating: 2.7 / 10 Disclaimer: this review is written a year and a half after the fact. For me, this book has become the standard against which to judge all other bad Roman sword and sandal. I have a sweet spot for sword and sandal, or general “historical” fiction, and particular sweet tooth for Rome, and it's just my luck that Rome is really big right now. However, most of it is garbage. Whether it's Conn Iggulden taking an entire novel to fictionalise ninety percent of Caesar's childhood as an in Rating: 2.7 / 10 Disclaimer: this review is written a year and a half after the fact. For me, this book has become the standard against which to judge all other bad Roman sword and sandal. I have a sweet spot for sword and sandal, or general “historical” fiction, and particular sweet tooth for Rome, and it's just my luck that Rome is really big right now. However, most of it is garbage. Whether it's Conn Iggulden taking an entire novel to fictionalise ninety percent of Caesar's childhood as an intro to a series, or Ben Kane taking twenty-some-odd pages reading the entrails of a goat, Roman sword and sandal pulp is as common and qualitative as dimestore Harlequin romances. The book is an alternate history novel telling the “what if” of the Carthaginians winning the Second Punic War under Hannibal. It begins with a sort of “double prologue”. The prologue itself is a brief history lesson, which is actually superbly written, about the Second Punic War, Hannibal, and Scipio Africanus. It's short, succinct and apt. Chapter 1, the second part of the prologue, per se, shows the Roman surrender to Hannibal, and the terms Hannibal sets for sparing the lives of Roman civilians, namely, to leave the city, while promising not to molest the statues and temples of the Roman gods. The meat of the story picks up in Chapter 2, three generations later. Rome, as a nation, is now centred around Roma Noricrum, the new city, somewhere on the Danube river in Germania. The Old Families of the Roman aristocracy are in a political power struggle with the New Families, and they can finally agree that now is the chance to strike and retake the Rome of the Seven Hills. Scipio's grandson, Marcus Scipio is sent south as an envoy and trader with the covert mission of spying on Carthage's weaknesses. Titus Norbanus of the New Families accompanies him, and eventually, the Shofet, or king, of Carthage tries to enlist Noricrum's assistance in a war against Egypt. Here is the first problem with this book: there are only two female characters amidst dozens of male. Selene of Egypt, about as flat as can be, carved right out of the back of a cereal box, and Zarabel of Carthage. Zarabel actually has the most depth of any character, a commanding woman in a man's world dealing with her arrogant oaf of a brother king, forced to seduce, connive, lie and cheat, yet all that depth is lost as soon as she has sex with Norbanus. The sex was a ploy of hers to seduce him and keep him close, but then she becomes so hopelessly infatuated with him that it's all for not and she spends the remainder of the book with her head back and the back of her hand on her forehead in dismay, or thereabouts. Secondly, among the male characters, it is nothing more than a juvenile dick-measuring contest, a bit pathetic actually, because for a group of Romans, renowned for orgies and gladiators and sodomy and vomitoriums and over-farming abortion herbs to extinction, these soldiers don't seem to do anything. The one thing I'll say is that this is a fast read. Although it was absolute tripe, I didn't get so bored to give up on it. But if that's the best I can say about it, I'm not saying much.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Alex Telander

    Anyone who has learned some Roman history knows that the only person that ancient Rome admits to having feared is the Carthaginian general Hannibal. Hannibal was one of the few people to actually defeat the Roman army in more than one battle, and it was not until the final battle of Zama in the third century BC that Hannibal was finally defeated, and Carthage overthrown in the Third Punic War. John Maddox Roberts, author of the SPQR mystery novels set in ancient Rome, attempts a daring feat of al Anyone who has learned some Roman history knows that the only person that ancient Rome admits to having feared is the Carthaginian general Hannibal. Hannibal was one of the few people to actually defeat the Roman army in more than one battle, and it was not until the final battle of Zama in the third century BC that Hannibal was finally defeated, and Carthage overthrown in the Third Punic War. John Maddox Roberts, author of the SPQR mystery novels set in ancient Rome, attempts a daring feat of alternate history. In Hannibal’s Children, during the Second Punic War, Hannibal offers the weakened Roman army two choices: to attack and be slaughtered, or to surrender. Then he proposes an ancient custom that has not been used in many years: the choice of going into exile. Hannibal tells the Romans in 215 BC to leave Rome for the north and never to return. After some deliberation, the Romans agree and flee north of the Danube River. For the next hundred and fifteen years they create a new society with a capital city, Roman Noricum, interacting with the barbarian Goths of the north, as well as trading with the Greeks in the south, while Carthage has taken over Rome and made it a vassal to the great empire. But in 100 BC, now that the Romans have had time to regroup to recreate their armies, they will now return to the Mediterranean to retake their great former capital. Hannibal’s Children is a driving novel that does well in giving the reader an idea of what ancient Rome was like, adhering to the many known facts, as well as stretching some of them. But there is a hundred and fifteen years of Roman history that has been erased, and it will be interesting to see in the next book of this series, The Seven Hills, what Roberts does with the missing history and whether Rome will become the greatest empire to rule the western world, as we all know it once did. Originally published on September 9th, 2002. For over 500 book reviews, and over 40 exclusive author interviews (both audio and written), visit BookBanter.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Vicki Cline

    Suppose Hannibal had defeated Rome in 215 BC. Roberts rewrites history, having Hannibal exile all the Romans to the hinterlands, specifically Noricum, in the area of current-day Austria and Slovenia. Naturally the Romans take over that part of the world and keep up their martial ways. Finally in 100 BC some of them want to find out about what's happening in Carthage and Italy. Maybe they can regain their ancient lands. A group of "diplomats" venture to Carthage, keeping track of what they see on Suppose Hannibal had defeated Rome in 215 BC. Roberts rewrites history, having Hannibal exile all the Romans to the hinterlands, specifically Noricum, in the area of current-day Austria and Slovenia. Naturally the Romans take over that part of the world and keep up their martial ways. Finally in 100 BC some of them want to find out about what's happening in Carthage and Italy. Maybe they can regain their ancient lands. A group of "diplomats" venture to Carthage, keeping track of what they see on the way. Hamilcar, the ruler of Carthage, doesn't think they're much of a threat, and decides to hire some Roman legions to help him conquer Egypt. There is some intrigue with Hamilcar's sister, and later with Selene, the queen of Egypt (her brother-husband is very young). This was a very plausible and satisfying story, with The Seven Hills as a sequel. My only disappointment is that there weren't any maps, which I really like with a book like this.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Denise

    I've read the author's SPQR series and enjoyed that. But Hannibal's Children left me flat as a reader. The descriptions of the city of Carthage, their weapons and gods was very detailed and added to my rather thin knowledge about that culture. But the "ease" with which the Romans traveled down through Italy, across the Mediterranean to Carthage, and then from Carthage to Alexandria didn't sit well with me. The author began describing the traveling while in Italy and then just moved on to the cit I've read the author's SPQR series and enjoyed that. But Hannibal's Children left me flat as a reader. The descriptions of the city of Carthage, their weapons and gods was very detailed and added to my rather thin knowledge about that culture. But the "ease" with which the Romans traveled down through Italy, across the Mediterranean to Carthage, and then from Carthage to Alexandria didn't sit well with me. The author began describing the traveling while in Italy and then just moved on to the city of Carthage. And the apparent ease with which the Romans met with their worst enemies??? Will read his next book in this group and hope it ties it all together.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Shane

    I did like this book. The premise is quite fascinating: what would happen if Hannibal had defeated Rome? The locations are well-realized, and I appreciated most of the characters. My only real beef is that things seemed to happen just a little too easy for the Romans. They hadn't even changed any; it would have been nice to see some differences in their society (although maybe that's the point-they were so stubborn and set on their course they wouldn't change any). But still, everything just fel I did like this book. The premise is quite fascinating: what would happen if Hannibal had defeated Rome? The locations are well-realized, and I appreciated most of the characters. My only real beef is that things seemed to happen just a little too easy for the Romans. They hadn't even changed any; it would have been nice to see some differences in their society (although maybe that's the point-they were so stubborn and set on their course they wouldn't change any). But still, everything just fell perfectly into place for Roma Noricum, and as such it removed some of the intrigue.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Dolphe

    "What if" is one of the most overused scenarios in modern fiction, but I imagine there's a good reason for that: it allows for some imaginative storytelling. In "Hannibal's Children", author John Maddox Roberts imagines an alternate history in which Rome is defeated by Carthage and the entire Roman citizenry forced into exile from Italy. The Roman spirit remains intact and a new nation is built beyond the Italian borders. For a century, the defeated bide their time and carefully plan their ancie "What if" is one of the most overused scenarios in modern fiction, but I imagine there's a good reason for that: it allows for some imaginative storytelling. In "Hannibal's Children", author John Maddox Roberts imagines an alternate history in which Rome is defeated by Carthage and the entire Roman citizenry forced into exile from Italy. The Roman spirit remains intact and a new nation is built beyond the Italian borders. For a century, the defeated bide their time and carefully plan their ancient revenge. Revenge can be sweet and it's a taste the reader should thoroughly enjoy.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Boyd

    I thought the description of Rome at the defeat of Carthage, was pretty accurate, and I think Rome would have been able to regroup, even if it had to leave the Italian peninsula. The story eventually goes into the personal lives of the Characters. Anyone who has enjoyed I Claudius, and Spartacus, may enjoy this as well.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Loren

    About 3.5 stars. The ending is a little confusing and things work out a little too well for Rome. Still it's a fun yarn but does require some (not a lot) knowledge of the Roman period and Hannibal to really make sense of it About 3.5 stars. The ending is a little confusing and things work out a little too well for Rome. Still it's a fun yarn but does require some (not a lot) knowledge of the Roman period and Hannibal to really make sense of it

  14. 4 out of 5

    Dani

    So-so 'what if?' book. The author set it up to be a series and it shows. Not a very remarkable book but interesting enough for me to add the next in the series to my wishlist to read someday. So-so 'what if?' book. The author set it up to be a series and it shows. Not a very remarkable book but interesting enough for me to add the next in the series to my wishlist to read someday.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Alain Trépanier

    I prefer his Conan novels.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Joe

    What If..? Such a great phrase. This book takes it and makes some hay... Just delicious. Thank you John Roberts Maddox... more, more, MORE

  17. 5 out of 5

    Robbie

    Fun historical fiction wherein Rome loses to Hannibal and rebuilds their empire. Pure candy, but has neat semi-historical asides about Roman behavior in politics, war, expansion, etc.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Jack

    a great idea but just didn't grab me like I thought it would by the middle of the book you could sort of tell what was going to happen a great idea but just didn't grab me like I thought it would by the middle of the book you could sort of tell what was going to happen

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan

    I'm a fan of Roman history and alternate history, so when the two overlap I tend to enjoy it quite a bit. I'm a fan of Roman history and alternate history, so when the two overlap I tend to enjoy it quite a bit.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Ramona

  21. 5 out of 5

    Nessi Retwop

  22. 4 out of 5

    Roxy Nakamura

  23. 4 out of 5

    Todd Strohmeyer

  24. 5 out of 5

    Robert Verdi

  25. 4 out of 5

    Ryan

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jamie Macek

  27. 4 out of 5

    Bill Sullivan

  28. 4 out of 5

    Mark Castellanet

  29. 5 out of 5

    Patricia Woodhead

  30. 4 out of 5

    Carolynn

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