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Spartacus: The Gladiator (Spartacus #1)

4.03  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,265 Ratings  ·  164 Reviews
“Gritty, passionate and violent, this thrilling book is a real page-turner and a damn good read. It brings Spartacus—and ancient Rome—to vivid, colorful life.” —Steven Pressfield, author of Gates of Fire
Long the stuff of legends, Spartacus is known to most modern readers through the classic Kubrick film version of Howard Fast’s novel. Now bestselling historical nove
Hardcover, 480 pages
Published June 5th 2012 by St. Martin's Press (first published January 19th 2012)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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I listened to this as an audiobook, so a word on the narrator first. Michael Praed is a well-known and professional narrator with a pleasing voice and a good range – although, apologies to Mr Praed, female voices are never going to be his strong suit.

As to the story itself, this is my first Ben Kane book and I think it would be fair to say that Kane’s books get categorised into the “Roman soldier buddy story” sub-genre of historical fiction. As to whether they actually are a part of that genre,
Jan 25, 2014 Erica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book…I really did.

Spartacus the Gladiator is a brilliant retelling of a story we've all heard before, but can't seem to get enough of. The novel is rich in historical detail and the characters really come to life, they weren’t just words on a page. Spartacus was my friend and his enemies were my enemies. The book wasn’t so much about Spartacus as a gladiator, as it was about his life as a warrior and the battles he and his men fought against the undefeated legionaries. He was an ene
Nick Brett
Jan 29, 2012 Nick Brett rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ben Kane does what research is possible on a real historical character and shapes it to his narrative, most of which follows the known history of Spartacus and the slave rebellion. Mr Kane makes Spartacus an leader, tactician and a unemotional killing machine but holds back on real character beyond that. Instead he uses a Roman fellow gladiator to provide deeper characterisation and to give us a slightly different perspective and view on the events as they unfold.
Most of what we read here happen
twelvejan [Alexandria]
4 magnificent stars!


This is an epic story of a Thracian who was betrayed and sold to the ludus to become a gladiator. This is a story of a brave man who led thousands of slaves in an uprising against the Roman Republic. This is a magnificent story of survival and loyalty.

This, is a story of Spartacus.


My first encounter with Ben Kane was in his collaborative work with five other authors in A Day of Fire: a novel of Pompeii. His story was about an ex-legionary who staked his entire future on a gl
Inês Beato
Já há vários anos que tenho um fascínio pelo Império Romano. Não porque seja tudo um mar de rosas ou uma época pacífica, a Roma Antiga impressiona-me e choca-me em iguais medidas. Mas coisas más e desumanas aconteceram infelizmente em todas as civilizações e até hoje, em pleno século XXI, continuamos a assistir a barbaridades diariamente.
Gosto de estudar a Civilização Romana por tudo o que representou há mais de 2.000 anos, pela dimensão impressionante que atingiu, pelo seu funcionamento, pela s
4.5 stars

Compelling reading, Spartacus The Gladiator was an absolute page turner. Ben Kane covers the well known story of Spartacus with a brilliant balance of historical detail and fictional flare bringing the story to life in fascinating, horrifying and brutal glory.

Spartacus is known as one of the greatest military commanders in history, a master tactician, a man of strength, intelligence, honour, loyalty and while understanding the inhumanities and cruelties inflicted during war he possesse
Jun 12, 2012 Anagha rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have to say that although I like historical fiction, I've read very few novels like Spartacus: The Gladiator. Ben Kane combines extensive knowledge about the period with a fast-paced, daring writing style, a strong, fierce hero and a powerful plot. You can tell he's an experienced writer with his confident writing - the action scenes could be easily understood, the romance was short and sweet and the characterization remained constant.

I loved how Ben Kane took the widely known facts about Spar
Stuart MacAllister
Once again the Roman Empire and the bloodthirsty, violent society it created has been brought vividly to life by Ben Kane in yet another excellent book. His painstakingly accurate, superbly researched novels have won him a "legion" of fans and he has - quite rightly - gained a reputation that ranks alongside the likes of Simon Scarrow and Harry Sidebottom.

The details of Spartacus slave revolt has been, for the most part, stricken from the records of Ancient Rome but the legend of the gladiator w
Sean Buckridge
May 31, 2012 Sean Buckridge rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I received this book as a free giveaway, and I'm glad I did! Admittedly, I probably wouldn't have given this book a second glance if I saw it on the shelf. But, I have to say....I loved it! Like most people, I am only familiar with Spartacus from the Kirk Douglas flick and the cable series. This book hooked me early and kept me involved. It has violence, political intrigue, romance, and a good deal of suspense. I don't want to give away too much of the plot, but Spartacus returns from serving wi ...more
Mr. Matt
Dec 10, 2013 Mr. Matt rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: hf-roman, 2013
Historical fiction focused on the Roman era is (to no great surprise) usually focused around Romans. The period has much to offer - the discipline of the legions, treacherous Senatorial politics, the transition from Republic to Empire, warlike barbarian tribes, religious ferment, almost an entire continent under one power, a span of hundreds of years, and more.

Ben Kane's Spartacus makes a nice contribution to the genre by focusing on one of Rome's foes - Spartacus, the Thracian gladiator who le
Robin Carter
May 04, 2012 Robin Carter rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Ben Kane has been able to deliver and deliver and deliver when it comes to Historical Fiction, His excellent (and i hope not finished) Forgotten legion Series, the wonderful Hannibal: Enemy of Rome, and now Spartacus.

At first i was a little reticent about someone doing this in tandem with the TV series, The TV series that while it had started off with the 300 style filming soon settled in to a great portrayal of an iconic character, Andy Whitfield soon came to be the face that came to
In this book:

Crixus and Spartacus were not bros.

Crixus and his men were rapists and Spartacus didn’t even try to stop them.

Gannicus and Oenomaus were not bros. And Gannicus was so serious all the time.

The characters felt flat, I didn't like any of them.

Women were helpless and useless. They got raped by men or were their lovers, they did nothing else. Oh, and the main female character had to get pregnant, of course.

What the fuck?

The action scenes were good, though.
Jess Hughes
Oct 26, 2012 Jess Hughes rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who enjoys historical fiction
Recommended to Jess by: I found it on my own, as I always search out new historical fiction
This is another excellent historical by Ben Kane. He has become a master of stories from ancient Rome, especially, the Republican era.

In Spartacus the Gladiator, using what limited information that is available (a total of approximately 4,000 written words from ancient writings) and produces in a very logical and methodical order about the life of this famous gladiator and rebel. The characters of Spartacus, his wife, the Dionysian Priestess, Ariadne, Crixus, the vicious Gallic gladiator, and Ca
Joseph Finley
Jun 23, 2012 Joseph Finley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In the novel, Spartacus is a Thracian and veteran of the Roman legions who studies their tactics in the hope of going home and leading his own army against the hated Romans. When he returns to Thrace, however, Spartacus learns a usurper has killed the king, as well as his own father, and seized the throne. Spartacus plots a rebellion, but when the king discovers his plans, Spartacus is captured and sold to a Roman slaver. Despite this setback, Spartacus gains an unlikely companion in Ariadne, a ...more
Mirelle Oncken
I liked a lot this book. The story of Spartacus is compelling, and I believe this was greatly told. From the Ludus to almost the Alps, there're a lot of battles, struggles and animosity.
Besides Spartacus' doing, we see a lot of Carbo, a made up personage, and a Roman one, nonetheless, following Spartacus and the slaves. His story is quite beautiful and sad - and I'll be rooting for a meeting between him and Crixus on the next book. I have no idea if such thing will happen, but one can hope.
Jan 12, 2016 Dan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A powerful book portraying the Life of Spartacus. The book is written very well with excellent flow. Main character development is well done.

Spartacus opens with his return to his homeland to reunite with his family only to discover his father killed and he has been betrayed. Sold into slavery, Spartacus forges new allies in the gladiator training facility and organizes an escape despite overwhelming odds. This becomes his trademark; recognizing the odds faced and formulating a plan to overcome
Jul 02, 2012 Rick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: waiting-sequels
Brilliant. I started reading this thinking it would be a copy of the Kirk Douglas film....WRONG!!!! Ben Kane is an execellent story teller and has given the Spartacus tale a whole new twist. I am certainly going to read the next book when it is released.
Apr 22, 2013 Ronnie, rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I forgot to review this Book, been busy,
This is a classic History novel based on a true Legend,
Blood, Sex, Murders and Love all in one book.
A must for anyone who likes the TV series,
Apr 02, 2013 William rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ebooks, spartacus
I feel I am quite familiar with the story of the Thracian warrior who made the mighty Roman Empire tremble with fear in the years just previous to the rise of Julius Caesar. I have watched both the Starz series about Spartacus and the famous Kirk Douglas film of the same name, read some of the accounts of the Slave king by a variety of authors, but was still quite happy to read Ben Kane's version which offers some new speculative ideas about how Spartacus came to power and the struggle to mainta ...more
I was given this book through the Goodreads Giveaway program.

This was my first go at Spartacus fiction, and my first Ben Kane read, and I was therefore very excited to dig in. But I had nearly reached a third of the way through the book when I had to abandon it. I simply have no desire to read novels that include graphic, very explicit rape scenes. And from what I've read from some of the other reviews, there were several more even worse ones awaiting me.

As you might expect, this novel is very v
Curses to my old age, I wanted to keep reading but my eyes just couldn’t stay open. That’s how good it was. It was filled with action, a bit of love on the side, but well written that I now have to go look for other books by Ben Kane to keep reading them. They’re just THAT good.

Spartacus was good, and well written, the plot was well done and the action scenes were fun to read, and filled with blood that you’d expect in a novel such as this (not as gory as the TV show, thankfully.) Characters are
Almost everyone has heard about Spartacus due to the classic movie and the now popular television show, but who was Spartacus really? In the first of an epic two-part series, Spartacus: The Gladiator follows Spartacus throughout his historic rise from slave to the man who almost defeated the Roman army. It begins when Spartacus has escaped from the Roman army and returned to his Thracian home. The Thracian king has his eye on Ariadne, a Dionysian priestess, but becomes outraged when Spartacus ta ...more
Holly P
I am probably one of the few people where this novel is my first foray into the legend of Spartacus. I haven't watched the Kirk Douglas movie or the TV series and I have never read a Spartacus novel before this one. In this book Ben Kane does a fantastic job in bringing to life the man that united slaves and common people alike to take on the mightiest army in the world. We meet Spartacus as he is coming home to Thrace after spending several years fighting in the Roman Auxiliary. Just because he ...more
Simon Turney
Sep 22, 2012 Simon Turney rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
No…. I’M Spartacus

I’ve waited until I finished the second book to review these two, since I read them back to back and a 2-part series is relatively rare. Given that, I will not be writing a separate review for each book. This review is for both Spartacus the Gladiator and Spartacus: Rebellion.

I’ve been a fan of Ben’s writing from the start. His Forgotten Legion series was groundbreaking in a number of ways and quite astounding as a debut. I was then fairly stunned by Hannibal, which I consider
Ruth Hill
I am a historical novel afficianado, so when I was offered a chance to read and review this book, I was interested. I have seen the very famous 1950's film, so I figured I knew how the book ended. I hadn't realized till the end that there were going to be two books int he saga. So I felt the book ended rather abruptly, but that was more a result of my expectations not being fulfilled.

Up to this point, I had never read anything by Ben Kane, and I did not find his writing style easy to read. Yes,
Jun 17, 2012 Brenda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I must admit the reason I wanted to read "Spartacus The Gladiator" is because of a movie that I watched about the warrior. Not my normal genre to read,I really feared that the story may be about warring and fighting, but instead I was pleasantly surprised at how much depth there was to the story. Sure there are battles,killings and such but there is actually so much more taking place and that's what kept me reading.

The book opens up with Spartacus headed back home to Thrace after being gone for
The thing that this book has confirmed for me about Ben Kane's books is they can be like Marmite to me (even though I actually love Marmite but that's a confusing tangent). They're well written and relatively engaging yet quite often are unremarkable and don't stay with you very long once you've finished them.

Do not get me wrong. I am not writing off Ben Kane altogether as I have found myself really enjoying notable chunks of his books before - such as the very human realistic nature of the char
This was my first try at a Ben Kane novel and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

It is the first in a duology. The story starts with Spartacus returning home after spending many years in the Roman Legion and ends with the third defeat of a Roman army by the slaves.

I always find it a good sign when I like the hero from the first chapter, in this case I liked the character of Spartacus from the first paragraph. He was everything I want my heroes to be. There was a massive amount of action, from small fights
Sep 01, 2012 happy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mr. Kane provides an excellent, enjoyable read. This book has a little of everything, violence ( both gladiatoral and warfare), political infighting (the Roman Senate, his home in Thrace and between the rebelious gladiators themselves)and even a little romance (between Spartacus and his wife and one of his followers and his love interest)

I personally thought the battle scenes were very well written and drew me in. Spartacus in presented a man who has an abiding hatered for all things Roman and j
Scott Palochik
Sep 07, 2012 Scott Palochik rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
History is VERY seldom written by the defeated. Spartacus was a different story, The Romans hated him however they also had a great deal of respect for him. His accomplishments and tactical victories with a handful of escaped gladiators and a large number of escaped slaves earned him the honor of having so much written about him.

This book, of course, took some creative license in the life of Spartacus and his escape from the Lutus. But overall I thought it to be a fantastic book. Ben Kane has a
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Sir Read-A-Lot's ...: Review, Interview & Giveaway! 1 12 Nov 09, 2012 02:43PM  
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Ben Kane is a bestselling Roman author and former veterinarian. He was born in Kenya and grew up in Ireland (where his parents are from). He has traveled widely and is a lifelong student of military history in general, and Roman history in particular. He lives in North Somerset, England, with his family.
More about Ben Kane...

Other Books in the Series

Spartacus (2 books)
  • Spartacus: Rebellion (Spartacus, #2)

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