Wednesday, June 15, 2022

The Hostage of Rome by Robert M. Kidd - Book Tour + Giveaway


The Hostage of Rome

217 BC. Rome has been savaged, beaten and is in retreat. Yet, in that winter of winters, her garrisons cling on behind the walls of Placentia and Cremona, thanks to her sea-born supplies. If he could be freed, a hostage of Rome may yet hold the key to launching a fleet of pirates that could sweep Rome from the seas. For that hostage is none other than Corinna’s son Cleon, rival heir to the throne of Illyria, held in Brundisium, four hundred miles south of the Rubicon.

But Hannibal is set on a greater prize! Macedon is the great power in Greece, feared even by Rome. Its young king, Philip, is being compared with his illustrious ancestor, Alexander the Great. An alliance with Macedon would surely sound the death knell for Rome.  

               Given Hannibal’s blessing, Sphax, Idwal and Corinna face an epic journey against impossible odds. Navigating the length of the Padus, past legionary garrisons and hostile Gauls, they must then risk the perils of the storm-torn Adria in the depths of the winter. If the gods favour them and they reach the lands of the pirate queen, only then will their real trials begin.

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The ever-present backdrop to The Hostage of Rome is the journey that Sphax and his seven companions undertake to rescue Cleon, the two year old son of Corinna, Sphax’s lover. Cleon is being held as a hostage of Rome in Brundisium (modern-day Brindisi) on the Adriatic coast of southern Italy. But as usual with Sphax, his plans soon unravel when he and Idwal are captured and imprisoned by the centurion, Sempronius Falto.

Falto turns out to be something of a monster …

‘You are accused of aiding the escape of a hostage of Rome,’ growled the centurion, ‘which is an
offence punishable by death. What say you?’

Sphax acted dumb. Still half kneeling, he shook his head and bleated, ‘Non intellego … quid dicis?’

‘The bastard spoke perfect Greek not two hours ago,’ fumed the centurion. ‘Fetch Aetius, he speaks Greek, doesn’t he?’

Aetius was eventually found and stood beside his centurion, looking nervous and flustered. ‘Ask him who he is and what’s his business in Epidamnos,’ growled Falto.

Aetius was slow to translate, giving Sphax time to gather his thoughts.  ‘I am Ramesses,’ remembering the name of the only pharaoh he’d been taught, ‘an Egyptian from Alexandria now in the service of Queen Teuta of Illyria. My orders were to escort her daughter safely to Epidamnos, nothing more.’

The centurion grunted impatiently when he’d heard Sphax’s reply. ‘Tell the cocksucker that aiding the escape of a hostage of Rome is punishable by death.’

Sphax glared at the man. ‘But this is not Rome, centurion! Epidamnos is a Greek city, subject to Greek laws. Rome has no jurisdiction here and you have no right to detain me and the Gaul.’ That earned him a vicious slap to the cheek.

Suddenly beside himself with rage, Falto yelled, ‘Tell this piece of excrement that I will do as I please with him. I am the law around here!’ Rising to his feet he screamed, ‘Strip him and search every fold of that woman’s tunic he’s wearing, I want to see what the cocksucker’s hiding.’

This is what Sphax had dreaded most. He would soon have a lot more explaining to do!

Another man joined the triarius who’d been standing over him, and together they began tugging and tearing at his himation. His ivory image of Artemis was the first thing to be ripped from his neck, followed by a leather purse he carried containing a few silver coins. Both items were tossed to the centurion to examine.

But once stripped to the waist, revealing his bare arms, there was no hiding the fugitivus sign branded on his right forearm. And that’s when Tiberius Falto lost all control of himself, descending into a demented madness.

‘You’re nothing more than a filthy Roman slave!’       


Author Bio – Robert M. Kidd

When Cato the Censor demanded that ‘Carthage must be destroyed,’ Rome did just that. In 146 BC, after a three year siege, Carthage was raised to the ground, its surviving citizens sold into slavery and the fields where this once magnificent city had stood, ploughed by oxen. Carthage was erased from history.

That’s why I’m a novelist on a mission! I want to set the historical record straight. Our entire history of Hannibal’s wars with Rome is nothing short of propaganda, written by Greeks and Romans for their Roman clients. It intrigues me that Hannibal took two Greek scholars and historians with him on campaign, yet their histories of Rome’s deadliest war have never seen the light of day.

My hero, Sphax the Numidian, tells a different story!

When I’m not waging war with my pen, I like to indulge my passion for travel and hill walking, and like my hero, I too love horses. I live in Pembrokeshire, West Wales.

Giveaway to Win Book 6 in The Histories of Sphax series to be dedicated to the winner, & a signed dedicated copy too (Open INT)

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

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