Historical Fictionistas discussion

Buddy Reads > Pride of Carthage by David Anthony Durham

Comments Showing 1-48 of 48 (48 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Terri (last edited Jul 31, 2010 11:49PM) (new)

Terri A few of us have decided to buddy up and read Pride of Carthage by David Anthony Durham .
Anyone is welcome to join us!!
Let's try not to put too many BIG spoilers in this thread. Of course it is impossible to talk about the book without leaving some spoilers in this thread so always let people know , when you post, that your post contains spoilers.
Those BIG spoilers might be better passed between us in private via the Goodreads private message system so that we don't ruin the book for anyone who may come to the thread late.

Try and keep updating the books status on your own profile ('currently reading' feature), so we can keep track of what pages we are all up to.

Here is the book description for anyone thinking of joining the mini read.

" An epic work of literary fiction about the superb military leader of Carthage, Hannibal Barca, and his struggle against the mighty Roman Republic.

With a vast cast of characters and nationalities, twists of fate, and tales of inspired leadership, David Anthony Durham perfectly captures the legendary Hannibal's world in Pride of Carthage. Beginning in ancient Spain, where Hannibal's father had carved out a Carthaginian empire, the novel traces the origins of the war, the opening moves, and Hannibal's inspired choice to attack Rome via a land route most believed impossible. In graphic, panoramic prose, Durham describes the battles, including the icy slaughter of the Trebia; the mist-shrouded battle along Lake Trasimene; the battle of Cannae, in which Hannibal's outnumbered force surrounded and decimated seventy thousand Romans in a single afternoon; and Zama, the hard slog that proved to be the decisive contest.
Along the way we meet a variety of major historical figures on both sides of the conflict, as well as characters representing the vast array of other ethnicities who played a part in the war: Iberians and Gauls, Numidians and Libyans, Macedonians and Moors. Hannibal's family is brought to life: his wife, mother, sisters, and young son, as is Publius Scipio, the young Roman who was the only match for Hannibal's genius on the field of battle — and who eventually defeated him.
Pride of Carthage is a stunning achievement in historical fiction, one that will transport readers to a world of mesmerizing authenticity of character, event, and detail."

message 2: by Terri (new)

Terri Okay, I'll go first.
I am currently only 25 pages in and the characters are only just beginning to be built.
Thus far, I am absolutely intrigued by Hannibal and his brothers. I can't wait to learn more of them as their characters develop.

message 3: by Aimee (new)

Aimee (akbaum) I am just beginning it too and so far I am really enjoying it. I love the amount of detail the author puts into every aspect of the story. I am also really liking Hannibal, a very strong, complex character.

message 4: by Moon (new)

Moon | -48 comments I'm on page 42. The brothers have been getting some character description so my liking for a favorite character could go either way between them. Sorry, I've meant to get further along than this but I've been busy this weekend and haven't had a chance to read anymore until now.

message 5: by Terri (last edited Aug 01, 2010 02:54PM) (new)

Terri It's good that you didn't get further on, Moony, because now you are in line with Anne and I.
Anne, what copy did you end up getting? Hardback, Large softcover or small softcover?

I am on page 45 now and am completely hooked.
I like the brother Hasdrubal so far. Warrior by day, party boy by night. The whole exercising naked (carrying the beam on his shoulders until his legs went to jelly) was pretty impressive.
I also thought it was beautiful the way Imilce's routine is to check her husbands (Hannibal's) naked body for injuries, scars, bruising every time he returns from battle. Their relationship is touching.

I am loving the description in this book. The author is totally immersing me in the culture of the Carthaginians. My favourite piece of description so far is this bit on page 27 in my large paperback copy;

*(This isn't exactly a spoiler because it gives nothing away of the story, so I won't issue a 'spoiler alert').
ON each table they set a great fish with a gaping mouth before the guests. They slit the fish open in one smooth slice the length of it's belly. They slipped fingers inside and helped the fish to birth yet another, a red skinned creature, which likewise housed another fish, which contained a roasted eel, from which they drew a long, slim procession of miniature octupuses, infant creatures the size of large grapes that were likewise tossed into the mouth. In the space of a few moments the single fish had become a bouquet of the ocean's splendour, each with it's own distinctive seasonings, each cooked in a different manner before being sewn inside the next one's belly.
I just love this kind of detail.

message 6: by Aimee (new)

Aimee (akbaum) Terri, I got a hardback from the library.
I also liked the routine that Hannibal and Imilce had of checking his body. Their relationship should make for and interesting part of the book. So far she seems like a very strong female character.

message 7: by Moon (new)

Moon | -48 comments I like the descriptions and the writing style. For some reason though it's not grabbing me yet as a page-turning "I've gotta read this" kind of book. But I have heard from other readers that it takes some time to really pick up, so hopefully it will enthrall me with more than just the details soon. ^_~

I got tired of messing with the dust jacket on my hardcover copy and just took it off. I'm starting to wish I had a paperback now! Well, now I'm on page 67.

message 8: by Terri (new)

Terri I always take the dust jacket off my hardbacks and stow them away in a drawer when I read them. They are a pain in the butt!

message 9: by Aimee (new)

Aimee (akbaum) I am now on page 100. It is getting more interesting the further I get. I like all the detail given to the preperations that Hannibal needed to do before he went to war. He certainly had a lot of things to plan and be ready for. He was a very intelligent man.

message 10: by Terri (last edited Aug 02, 2010 02:32PM) (new)

Terri I am on page 80 and I am enthralled. They are still laying siege to Saguntum and the new Greek scribe has just shown up and Hanno does not like him.
I too love the detail and description.

Moony, I am used to reading highly detailed, slow read books set in ancient times, so I think maybe that's why it was an instant page turner for me. I have been completely sucked into this world now.

Anne, you said you watched a doco on Hannibal on the history channel? What was it called and I'll keep an eye out for it.

I knew very little about Hannibal when I started this book. I knew the basics. His family conquered parts of Spain (Iberia) and he conquered the rest and I knew that his army crossed the alps on Elephants to threaten the Romans in northern Italy. I know it was a great feat and that the Romans feared Hannibal. And I know how and when he died. I know there was the First Punic War and the Second Punic War and that this book is set in the Second.
That is pretty much all I knew. That is another reason why this book has me hooked, because it is an era I am interested in and I know I am about to learn lots of new things.
I am glad I didn't know much before starting this book, because I have an unknown road ahead of me as I read.
Of course, from what little I know, there was no written record of Hannibal from his side of things, it was the Romans who recorded his history and wrote about him. It is through them that we know what we do of Hannibal to this day. Thank Heavens for those Romans or we'd have vast black holes in ancient history.

message 11: by Aimee (new)

Aimee (akbaum) Hi Terri,
The show I saw about Hannibal was called Battles B.C. It went through the whole war between Hannibal and the Romans step by step with some really cool dramatizations of the battles. There were a lot of different episodes of Battle B.C. and they were all really informative and entertaining. I believe you can buy them from the History Channel store on-line, but not positive.
I just checked on Youtube and they do have some of the episode up on there if you wanted to check it out. Just search Battles B.C. Hannibal.
Hope that helps.

message 12: by Moon (new)

Moon | -48 comments I watched a Hannibal documentary on the History Channel, but it wasn't the Battles B.C. program. I didn't know much about him beyond his campaign against Rome and use of the elephants. Isn't that what we all hear about in school, and it's the only thing that sticks?!

Oh, I better get moving on my reading. You all are ahead of me!

message 13: by Terri (new)

Terri Moony wrote: " I didn't know much about him beyond his campaign against Rome and use of the elephants. Isn't that what we hear about in school..."

Cause Elephants are cute and the Romans were unbeatable. :-) Maybe that's why that stuck with us all.
Up to page 100 now...
I am going away for a couple days and don't know if I'll have much time for reading so you will probably leave me way behind.
I'm not taking a computer with me so will report back in when I get home.

message 14: by Moon (new)

Moon | -48 comments Made it to page 93. You know, I kind of like the Barca sister... Sapanibal. I hope I spelled that right. She's interesting.

Terri, I'll try not to blaze ahead of you too quickly then! But that's not likely to happen. I tend to read 20 or 30 pages over a day or two and then read something else for awhile before coming back to Hannibal in a few days.

message 15: by Aimee (new)

Aimee (akbaum) Moony,
I have been liking Sapanibal too. I hope we get to read a lot more about her. I find her more interesting than Hannibal's wife.

message 16: by Moon (new)

Moon | -48 comments You're reading my mind, Anne!

message 17: by Terri (last edited Aug 07, 2010 08:27PM) (new)

Terri I'm back from holidays!! :-)
How are you guys going with P of C? I only got to read one or two pages while away and will be snuggling down with it tonight, when I go to bed. I'll try and cover some ground to catch up to you two so I don't get too far behind. I missed the story while I was away. Miss the brothers, and yes, the sister too. Like you both, I believe she has the potential to be an interesting character.

message 18: by Aimee (new)

Aimee (akbaum) Hi Terri,
Hope you had a nice holiday. I am now around page 300. It has been a good read. I have really liked getting such an in depth view of how difficult this war was for both Carthage and Rome. The author realy gives a great sense of the misery that Hannibal's troops went through.

message 19: by Terri (new)

Terri Had a great holiday, thanks for asking. :-)

Wow, 300. You did get ahead of me. I have some catching up to do!!! Only pg 120. Just not finding time to read. So much to do, so little time and then when I go to bed at night (which is when I do my reading) I am so exhausted I fall straight asleep. This is the pitfalls of running a farm I suppose. Work is never done and it is always physically exhausting. :-(
It's raining today so we are stuck inside. Will be able to read tonight because I shouldn't be too tired after my big day of boredom.

message 20: by Aimee (new)

Aimee (akbaum) Don't worry Terri, I will be slowing down now. I just had some free time and got caught up in the story. Don't feel you have to rush. I think this book is better read slowly.

message 21: by Moon (new)

Moon | -48 comments I'm still only on page 95. I got distracted by other books. I have a feeling I will be the last one to finish reading this book, haha!

message 22: by Terri (new)

Terri Wondering where the new female character is going to come into the story properly.
She came into it for the first time at the start of Part Two: Thunder of Baal. Her name is Aradna. Very tough life so far. I am wondering what role she'll play.
Don't tell me if either of you guys already know. I can't wait for her to come back into it.

message 23: by Aimee (new)

Aimee (akbaum) Aradna is a good character in this book, very strong. I noticed that there are not a lot of weak characters in this book, if any. Even the Romans, who are the enemies in this book, are shown to be strong, intelligent men for the most part. I really like that the woman are shown to be strong and intelligent, especially the Barca women.

message 24: by Terri (last edited Aug 12, 2010 01:31PM) (new)

Terri I hadn't thought about it until you mentioned it, but you are right. The book is full of strong characters.
I am just reading where Imilce goes to Carthage to meet the in laws. Hannibal's mother is a fabulous creature to read about. The description of the first meeting of mother-in-law and daughter-in-law and grandson was excellent.
David Anthony Durham does do so well with women. He doesn't make them out to be subservient types with no masculine strength to them. Women characters who don't play second fiddle to men. These are the kind of women I respect in real life.
This book is written so well, and the author is so darn good, I am just loving it for the literary taletn as well as the intriguing story.

message 25: by Terri (last edited Aug 16, 2010 03:58AM) (new)

Terri Around page 220, this book lost me for a bit. Still well written, but it wasn't capturing me anymore and I found my mind wandering to things unrelated to the story, and I would read two pages without even realising.
It was actually the first battle against the Romans that lost me.
BEWARE< SPOILER > Coming UP! (unless you have already gotten to this battle Moony. I know Anne has).

I am up to where Hanno has been captured and he doesn't want to poop in the Roman cell. :-}

message 26: by Aimee (new)

Aimee (akbaum) Hi Terri,
I am also struggling to get through the book right now. It is good and well written, but I feel like it is too long. Maybe is would have been better if some of the details were cut out and it was a more fast-paced book that stuck its main focus on Hannibal, and not spent so much time on other characters.

message 27: by Terri (new)

Terri I tend to agree at the moment.
As you said, it is still good and well written, but I am sure that we didn't need, for example, the blow by blow of Mago in that first battle.
I understand why he has some of the characters, like the soldier, Imco. I guess the wuthor is trying to give us a view of every angle, from lower ranks to higher, to Romans and wives and family left behind, I get that, but at the moment, like you, I am not sure all of it is necessary.
And that is saying a lot from me, because I am used to reading books based on ancient armies, ancient figures and ancient battles.

message 28: by Terri (new)

Terri How far are you now Anne? You must nearly be finished.

And Moony, you poor thing, I fear too many other books have pulled your interest off Pride of Carthage. :-(
It is a book that needs time and patience, that's for sure. I can't imagine it would be too easy to come back to when reading numerous books at the same time.
I hope we haven't lost you, pal?

Anne you know how we were talking about too many characters etc in our recent posts...well...I have changed my mind.
After those posts where we discussed it I noticed that I had it the wrong way round. It is actually all the other characters I like and enjoy reading about and it is Hannibal's sections that lose me sometimes. Make my mind wander off. There is only so much excitement to be found in reading about Hannibal sitting around in his tent discussing the invasion or thinking about his wife and life.
The Roman sections are a bit drab too, but I enjoy everyone else.

Despite those boring moments. I am still in awe at this authors talent for writing. To me he never falters, never sounds amateur.

message 29: by Moon (new)

Moon | -48 comments I haven't picked it up in ages... I'd have to reread a lot because my mind wanders horribly when I did. But I can't seem to stick with reading anything right now. I fear the only thing that I'd finish as of the moment are manga! Maybe comics are just what I need. A break from these epic tomes that I'm trying to read, haha!

Anne, I think that's my problem too. It's suppose to be a novel of Hannibal. Not Hannibal's family and some characters whose purpose makes no sense to me.

message 30: by Terri (last edited Aug 21, 2010 12:51AM) (new)

Terri Won't Manga wind your brain down? Don't you want to train it up? :-) Not that I am saying anything negative about Manga, because I don't mind some manga myself.

I always find that if I leave reading for a while and read only newspapers or Marie Clare magazine, then I dumb myself down and I have to read books that are light and undemanding to get back into reading novels again. If I don't train myself back up, I can never make it through a more complex novel.

message 31: by Aimee (new)

Aimee (akbaum) Well I just finished the book. I am glad that I read it. I agree Terri, the author is very talented and wrote a great story. I really felt like I got to know Hannibal and his family. I also feel like I got a good sense of why Hannibal made the decisions that he did, what his motivations were. The author did a wonderful job.
The one part that I could have lived without was the side story of Aradna and Imco. I liked Aradna, but Imco I found annoying.
Can't wait to here what you think of it when you are all finished, Terri!

message 32: by Terri (last edited Aug 21, 2010 02:30PM) (new)

Terri Congratulations, Anne! :-) Now I want to finish too.
I have just passed the first meeting of Imco and Aradna. When he falls down the bank with his pants open...etc..etc.. it was actually a relief for me when they met, because I am not having to wonder anymore why these two characters are even in the story. Now I have a feeling that at least there is going to be a side story with a bit more going for it than when Imco was on his own.

Was there a lot you saw in that documentary, Anne, that wasn't in the book?
I know from reading the reviews on GR that the book does not end with his death and that the book only covers a certain phase of his life, the second punicn war. But the part Durham has covered is it in line with the doco you saw?
***********************END SPOILER*****************

I can't wait to finish this book. Not because I have other books calling to me, but I just want to get to the dying chapters to see how the story pans out for all the characters.
Hasdrubal and his new wife are my favourite characters, but then, Hasdrubal always was my favourite character, right from the start. he was the most charismatic character I feel.

So, what book do you go on to now, Anne? Just curious at what kind of book you have chosen to follow up this epic Pride of Carthage read.

message 33: by Aimee (new)

Aimee (akbaum) Hi Terri, from what I remember from the documentary it does go along with what Durham has in the book. The book gives much more detail, obviously.

I loved Hasdrubal and his wife,too! In some ways they were more interesting to read about than Hannibal. I can't wait for you to finish so you can let me know what you thought of the ending and what happened to everyone. The story really picked up for me at the end and was very exciting!

I just finished reading
The Mists of Avalon. I had been reading it for a while now, alternating between it and Hannibal. It was really good, filled with magic, priestesses and the knights of the round table. Now I needed something light and easy for a break!

So glad I got to read this with you. Thank you so much for bringing this book to my attention. Maybe we can read another together sometime!

message 34: by Terri (last edited Aug 21, 2010 05:32PM) (new)

Terri The book has gotten really good again for me just passed halfway. Which is a relief. I hated having to put it down this morning.

Oh my gosh..I used to be such a Marion Zimmer Bradley fan in my late teens early twenties. I read everything of her's and barely remember it all. Marion Zimmer Bradley and Anne McCaffrey were my two fave authors back then.
Funny how I could be such a big fan once and now not remember the story's. I remember McCaffery better.


Would be up for a mini read with you any day, Anne. :-) If you are ever looking for something new to read, then go through my to read pile on my profile and have a look, if you see something you like let me know and we can work out when we might have a chance to read it together. They are all the books I own that I am trying to get through.

message 35: by Moon (new)

Moon | -48 comments Terri wrote: "Won't Manga wind your brain down? Don't you want to train it up? :-) Not that I am saying anything negative about Manga, because I don't mind some manga myself.

I always find that if I leave readi..."

Where is the fun in reading complex novels all the time? Reading should be an enjoyable experience no matter what form it takes and Japanese comics serve two purposes for me, entertainment and artistic study.

message 36: by Terri (last edited Aug 22, 2010 03:17PM) (new)

Terri Moony wrote: "Reading should be an enjoyable experience no matter what form it takes and Japanese comics serve two purposes for me, entertainment and artistic study. ..."

You are completely right! :-)

message 37: by Terri (last edited Aug 22, 2010 03:16PM) (new)

Terri Clever line..page 325 of 586 (my copy of this book has 586 pages)

Who had ever been as fortunate as he, to learn warfare from men such as these? He searched for a jest of his own to add to theirs, but jesting before battle was not a skill he had learned yet.

What a clever mind to think to say such a thing as this? 'jesting before battle was not a skill he had learned yet'.
This book is chock full of brilliant observational and philosophical quotes. What a clever writer Durham is. I have been in awe of him from the very beginning.

message 38: by Aimee (new)

Aimee (akbaum) That is a great quote Terri!

message 39: by Terri (new)

Terri Isn't it just?
I have come across so many good one's in this book, but I keep forgetting to post them here. This time the book was at hand so I remembered to do it.

message 40: by Terri (last edited Aug 23, 2010 05:32PM) (new)

Terri Page 400 of 586.
Only 186 pages to go and things are heating up.

Anne, something happened in this book at around halfway. There I was complaining about how boring bits were making me wander off, and then no sooner had I spoken, the book grabbed me again. It went back to being a page turner for me just after halfway. I have enjoyed it ever since.

I just think Durham's telling of the story from Carthage over the alps and that first battle was a huge let down.
From the next battle, when Aradna and her fellow scavengers stood on the outcrop to watch the battle below, but it started in the wee hours of morning and the basin was covered in fog, so they listened to the sounds off battle. Once the battle finished and the fog rolled back they saw the devastation. It was from around that point that I got seduced back into the story.

How are you going Moony. Had a chance to get back to the book?

message 41: by Terri (last edited Aug 23, 2010 06:45PM) (new)

Terri I just checked that Battles BC episode on Hannibal on Youtube. Thanks for finding it Anne!
Only watched about 3 minutes because I didn't want to chew through my download allowance.
The Hannibal they are portraying is different to the Hannibal in the book.
The Pride of Carthage Hannibal is not a blood thirsty 'killer' to me. He is a poised, cerebral man who will fight when battles come, but does not love the killing, only the winning of battles for Carthage.
Who know's which portrayal is right......

message 42: by Aimee (new)

Aimee (akbaum) I too found my mind wandering at times while reading this book, especially during the battle scenes. They were all interesting and well written, there is just so many of them. I found the parts that I enjoyed most were when I got to get inside Hannibal's head and get and idea of what he might have felt during this time. I also liked getting to know all of his family, especially his brothers. All of his family members seem to revolve around him and his decisions.

message 43: by Terri (new)

Terri Do you find yourself missing the characters now that you've finished the book?
I was reading it last night thinking, "I am going to miss this world when the book is done."

message 44: by Aimee (new)

Aimee (akbaum) No, I don't find myself missing the characters. The only book that I can think of that I've read that I really missed reading about the characters was Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series. Love these books and Jamie and Claire are my favorite book couple. I go into withdrawal when I finish one, so I do know what you mean.

message 45: by Terri (new)

Terri I feel that way about Uhtred in Bernard Cornwell's Saxon series.

I guess in this book it is different for me. It is more the exotic world that I will miss. I think I need to read more books set in this time. I always enjoy books set in ancient places such as this, and Persia, more than books set in ancient Rome. Although I do read my fair share of books set in ancient Rome, I like them second to books like Pride of Carthage.
page 460 of 586 now.

message 46: by Terri (new)

Terri Finished! OMG, heart broken. :-( What an ending hey, Anne?
Especially that final bit with Aradna.
And Hannibal.
And what Masinissa did to the love of his life...grrrr.

It is going to take me a night to overcome the sad feelings I have before I pick up my next book.

message 47: by Aimee (new)

Aimee (akbaum) I know, the ending was unbelievable! So much happened in those last pages. Hannibal having gone through so much, so many victories, to come home the way he did was horrible. The part that upset me the most was Masinssa and Hannibal's sister- can't remember her name. So sad. It's hard to believe that is what happened in those times after a war. People enslaved, raped, killed.

Do you think Imco ever returns to Aradna? I think he most likely died.

Really good book!

message 48: by Terri (new)

Terri :-) ****************BIG SPOILER*********************
**************do not read if you are going to read this book*************
I'm with you on Imco. My heart ached at that and I even nearly cried in that very last chapter devoted to Aradna's final story.
And that last battle, where all the great men who had been with him through it all, fell.
And that part further back when Hannibal received 'you know what' (the sad bit concerning Hasdrubal and Silenus). OMG I was so sad.
And then poor, kind Mago.
Sophonisba? Sapanibal? I think it was Sophonisba...I get them mixed up too. What she did for Masinissa. OMG. And then for the author to never go to that particular scene. Masinissa did it without seeing her again and the author played on that by not letting us see her again either....brilliant!

Oh, I am still sad, even now.

back to top