Spartacus by Howard Fast

April 6, 2017

The book Spartacus by Howard Fast is a book for the focused and patient. This book is set in 71 B.C after a violent and devastating slave uprising that lasted about 4 ½ years in the book it is known as one of the most successful uprisings in the Roman Empire. This book begins after the conflict of the slave uprising, and though this can be a tad confusing, the story keeps pace well, giving insight into both social classes affected in this book.

Spartacus is seen as a monster to the good citizens of Rome, just a dirty dog that wanted chaos and disorder. To the other slaves, Spartacus was a god -- the person who led them to salvation and freedom. Sometimes the book slows a bit, and it seems like there is a little too much backstory. I enjoyed this book is a lot and agree with others who have read Spartacus when they say this book is a thrilling masterpiece with a complicated and intense story line, but the the point of view changes a lot; it may cut away from the action to give a more in depth view of the thoughts and feelings of the characters. Sometimes this can get a little confusing, and you really have to make sure you know who is speaking. But when it cuts away to a different time (flashing back a few months or even years), it makes the action and uprising seem much more realistic. Fast is very good at achieving strong imagery describing the battles with eloquence and a very vivid realistic viewpoint of both the attacker and defender.

One thing that really makes this the worldwide classic it is now is how this book really addresses humanist views about submitting to social order rather than just going with the flock. Spartacus remarks in the book, "The whole world belongs to Rome, so Rome must be destroyed and made only a bad memory, and then, where Rome was, we will build a new life where all men will live in peace and brotherhood and love, no slaves and no slave masters, no gladiators and no arenas, but a time like the old times, like the golden age” (170). The ending is told from a point of view you wouldn’t consider throughout the book which makes it easier to understand and give a unique perspective on the events of the book and how morals and values were questioned throughout the book.

My only critique of the author is I wish that Spartacus's wife Varinia spoke more; she really did show both sides of Spartacus, his soft gentle side that only wanted freedom and survival and the side of him who fought an empire to help a whole race of oppressed and broken people to freedom. I looked forward to hearing her speak throughout the book and wish we could hear her thoughts and feelings more in the book.

My very favorite aspect of this novel is the end Fast incorporates a character who was with Spartacus throughout the book. Most of this book describes why Spartacus revolted but when this character speaks his reasoning for being part of the uprising wasn't because he wanted a grand new world but for his own reasons he missed his family he didn't want to be alone anymore and just wanted a family and it was very refreshing to get a point of view that was easy to relate to and made the character more human which really shows the author's writing and creative ability which was spectacular. I hope that if you read this book you will enjoy the imagery and lifelike conflict as much as me.

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