Ace, May 2002, 22.95, 366 pp.
Rome and Carthage went to war three times with Rome defeating her enemy the first and third time but in the second Punic war, the armies led by Hannibal won heavy victories against her enemy. Rome had to rebuild her army to finally crush Carthage. On an alternate Earth, in the second Punic war, Carthage is poised at the gates of the city of Rome, ready to destroy the city if the Romans don't surrender.
When a party of Romans go out to negotiate with Hannibal, he gives them a chance to survive if they accept exile. The people vote to acquiesce to the Carthaginian terms, but vow to return one day to reclaim their land and beloved city. One hundred and fifteen years later, the exiles have created another mighty empire called Rome Norricum and are ready to fight Carthage one more. They send out a small war party disguised as a trade expedition to see what they will have to face when they try to reclaim what was once was theirs.
John Maddox Roberts, the author of the historical series SPQR, has written a fascinating alternate history novel in which the exiled Romans conquer the land around the Danube River. The reader is immersed in the culture of Rome as seen through the eyes of Tribune commander Marcus Scipo. Marcus, the hero of this novel, is a very sensitive man in touch with his feelings and he is the reason readers will want to read the next book in the series.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner