It’s an original novel, but I will lay good Capuan coin that anyone who picks up J.M. Clements’ novel Spartacus: Swords and Ashes will already be fans of the Starz television program that just recently finished up its third season.
This is not to suggest that you would require familiarity with the television characters to enjoy the blood and sex soaked three hundred and thirty one pages of Swords and Ashes. But anyone that has had the pleasure in experiencing the show (in particular, the first season titled Blood and Sand) will know how addictive and cut throat (literally) each of the characters can be and how involved you will become in each of their natures.
Having watched the show, we can confirm that Swords and Ashes come sometime after Blood and Sand. Spartacus is still a slave of Ianista Quintus Batiatus, but the fate of his wife – who was taken from him by the Romans when Spartacus was thrown into slavery – has yet to be revealed. Also familiar to viewers will be characters Varro, Barca, Lucretia and Illithyia. Having been perfectly cast in the television series, it would be helpful reference to visualize each character with their actor persona, but even without such orientation, J.M. Clements does a brilliant job of framing and reintroducing each passenger in the Swords and Ashes Journey.
The new novel opens with a murder. Pelorus, a former slave that was granted freedom after saving Batiatus’ father, is murdered by his own slaves in a brutal attack that left his throat cut to a point of almost beheading.
Out of respect of his death, Batiatus, his wife Lucretia and a handful of slaves travel from Capua to Neapolis in honor of their fallen comrade. It is customary that the slaves of a fallen Dominus are all killed and slaughtered in the wake of the deceased and Batiatus brings Spartacus, Varro and Barca to Neapolis to execute those at unfair advantage in the Arena.
But while awaiting execution, words whispered and suspicions revealed unravel a potential conspiracy by the benefactors of the House of Pelorus to overthrow their master – a plan that will leave much blood and ashes amongst the Greek sands in and out of the arena.
As developments are presented and characters are accused of their participation in the murder, Swords and Ashes becomes a rapid page turner where excitement and justice at the edge of iron cast swords fuel an engrossing story that plays out like a detective novel. The violence in Swords and Ashes is grotesque in its description yet only acts as a setting backdrop for the revelations that lead to the conspirator’s motivation.
The book is dedicated to Andy Whitfield who played Spartacus in Blood and Sand on Starz before leaving the show to battle cancer – a battle he tragically lost. Liam McIntyre has taken over the sandals in Season 3 but it is Whitfield’s voice that we hear when J.M. Clements has our hero in quotations.
The final page of Swords and Ashes has a coming soon advertisement for Spartacus: Morituri due out this spring. Personally, I cannot wait!
Buy the book from Amazon HERE