In historical terms we know very little about Spartacus the man – partly because most contemporary Roman historians were keen to obliterate his memory and prevent him from attaining mythic status. This of course is grist to the novelist’s mill. Ben Kane’s brilliant novel begins in the Thracian village to which Spartacus has returned, after escaping from life as an auxiliary in the Roman army. But here he quickly falls foul of his overlord, the Thracian king, who has set his heart on Dionysian priestess, Ariadne – later to become wife of Spartacus. Betrayed again to the Romans by his jealous king, Spartacus – and with him Ariadne – are taken in captivity to the school of gladiators at Capua. It is here – against the unbelievable brutality of gladiatorial life – that Spartacus and Crixus the Gaul plan the audacious overthrow of their Roman masters, escaping to Vesuvius, where they recruit and train a huge slave army – an army which will keep the might of Rome at bay for two years and create one of the most extraordinary legends in history. Spartacus: The Gladiator takes the story up to the moment when the slave army has inflicted its first great defeat on Rome.