Hannibal’s Niece

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Hannibal. The name opens up a whole collection of thoughts and ideas. There’s one camp in which the name is synonymous with a certain book called Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris featuring a character of the same name, along with the hit movie starring Anthony Hopkins. The other camp is all about the general from Carthage whose army mounted one of the most renowned and almost successful attacks against ancient Rome, recorded in history as the Second Punic War from 218 BC to 201 BC.

Hannibal’s Niece by Anthony R. Licata is a book that was almost never published. Originally written over fifteen years ago, the book was rejected by publishers and agents and put to the side by the author. That was until Licata discovered the startup grant program Defining Karma. The grant program was established to “identify unique literary, television, and film projects.” When Licata submitted Hannibal’s Niece to the program for consideration, “[founder] Beller and the team knew immediately they had found their first author.”

In 211 BC, at the Battle of the Upper Baetis, where Hannibal’s Niece essentially begins, a man who would come to be known as Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus had his life changed. On the Carthaginian side was Hannibal’s brother, Hasdrubal Barca; on the Roman side were Scipio’s father, Publius Scipio, and his uncle, Gnaeus Cornelius Scipio Calvus; both were killed in a tragic defeat. Young Scipio all of a sudden found himself head of his family, with the weight and future of the Roman Empire’s pride and reputation on his shoulders. Coupling his need for revenge with his brilliance in strategy, the general mounted his own attack against Hasdrubal, using new and never-before-seen tactics.

With his first win under his belt, Scipio’s own pride stung at not being able to capture the Carthaginian general himself, who managed to escape. However, the man’s harem was taken prisoner – the spoils of war – and to improve Scipio’s mood, he chose the one member who looked unlike the others, a young redhead. In his tent he learns that her name is Vibiana, and she is in fact Hannibal’s niece. The woman was captured and grouped with the rest of the harem and assumed to be a member. All of a sudden things change, as Scipio now has a very powerful and important ransom piece in the ongoing war. Keeping her safe and comfortable, the two become familiar with each other, then close, and finally intimate. And so begins the incredible story of two mighty generals who remain known both famously and infamously over two thousand years later in the history books and the general consciousness. Juxtaposed with this is Vibiana, Scipio’s bargaining chip and a woman who is not just beautiful but intelligent and powerful, and someone who he is quickly falling in love with.

A densely researched book, Hannibal’s Niece is a moving story of blood and war and love told with a skillful hand. The history is mixed with story taken from sources; the book is filled with maps and battle plans, while the writing is fascinating and draws the reader in. History books sometimes have a reputation for being dry and somewhat boring. Hannibal’s Niece is anything but, with a voice that keeps the reader hooked from page to page. While the history is already known, it’s the little details and minutiae that make it such an interesting book.

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Star Count 4.5/5
Format Trade
Page Count 454 pages
Publisher G. Anton Publishing/Chicago
Publish Date 2017-May-25
ISBN 9780996679947
Bookshop.org Buy this Book
Issue October 2017
Category Historical Fiction


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