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Literature / The Forgotten Legion

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The Forgotten Legion is a trilogy of historical fiction novels about Rome by author Ben Kane. The main characters are a young gladiator, his prostitute sister, his Gaulish warrior mentor, and an Etruscan soothsayer, who travel through the ancient world in search of freedom and purpose. All four will determine the fate of Rome...

The series is comprised of:

  • The Forgotten Legion (2008)
  • The Silver Eagle (2009)
  • The Road To Rome (2010)


Tropes found in The Forgotten Legion:

  • Beautiful Slave Girl: Velvinna and Fabiola
  • Best Served Cold: The twins', particularly Fabiola's, quest of vengeance towards their father and their old master Gemellus to avenge their mother who was raped, abused and then sold to the mines. Also Tarquinius's quest to avenge his own seer mentor by killing the nobleman Caelius who had him murdered.
  • Big Brother Mentor: Brennus to Romulus, who reminds him of his nephew, killed by the Romans.
  • Bolivian Army Ending: Brennus in book two makes a Last Stand alone against an elephant. But after the main story is done, the characters have premonitions of his survival and resolve to seek for him.
  • Child by Rape: Romulus and Fabiola. Their mother Velvinna was once accosted by a group of noblemen in the street and one of them (Caelius) tried to rape her. But another man drove the rest off - only to rape her himself. That man was Julius Caesar.
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  • Doomed Hometown: Brennus's village is razed by the Roman army and his Gaulish tribe the Allobroges is mostly massacred.
  • Good Is Not Nice: Fabiola is prepared to do anything to accomplish her goals and is not regretful of it at all. Brennus too is loud, boisterous, and loves him some whores. Tarquinius also is driven by revenge in the first book and forced to murder a man to avoid being recognized.
  • Gladiator Games: Big time. Mostly because Romulus and Brennus are gladiators through much of the first book.
  • Historical Domain Character: Mainly Marcus Crassus and Julius Caesar. Cleopatra appears in Egypt. Spartacus is mentioned in passing, but he's dead already (Ben Kane later gave him his own duology).
  • Hooker with a Heart of Gold: This is played with in the character of Fabiola. While a nice strong girl normally, years of brothel work harden her throughout the books.
  • Last of His Kind: Tarquinius is the last trained Etruscan haruspex. Brennus also is pretty much the last of the Allobroge Gauls.
  • Lost Roman Legion: The series was inspired by the Battle of Carrhae (in modern Turkey) where the Parthian Empire defeated seven legions of The Roman Republic, with an estimated 20,000 dead and 10,000 captured. The Roman commander, Marcus Crassus (famous for defeating the Spartacus revolt and as a member of the First Triumvirate alongside Caesar and Pompey) was killed. Historians also speculate that the Roman prisoners of war (who simply disappear from the historical record) may have been conscripted by the Parthians to fight further East. Romulus and Brennus first meet up with Tarquinius in one of Crassus's legions, and they survive the battle to continue their adventures.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: Just before Julius Caesar finally dies.
  • Made a Slave: Brennus is spared from the massacre of his tribe because he's a tough fighter who will fetch a good price as a gladiator. In contrast Romulus and Fabiola were born into slavery.
  • Mentor Occupational Hazard: The Etruscan seer who trains Tarquinius foresees his own death and allows it to happen.
  • Nice Guy: Romulus is an eager soldier who cares for his comrades and genuinely wants to do the right thing. This comes into play in the third book when he saves a random prostitute from being raped. Said prostitute turns out to be Fabiola. Brutus, too, is seen as a nice guy by most of the protagonists.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: When the now adult Romulus finally meets Gemellus again with the intention of killing him, he spares him instead because he's a pathetic, decrepit old man. But then Gemellus attacks him when his back is turned. Fortunately Tarquinius shows up to finish the old bastard off.
  • One Steve Limit: Averted. Fabiola nurtures a relationship with Brutus and sows the seeds for the conspiracy that will kill Caesar. But this Brutus is Decimus Brutus and his relative, the more famous Marcus Brutus, is a latecomer to the conspiracy - who then throws himself into it so enthusiastically one might think he was the leader from the start.
  • Rape as Drama: Oh boy. Definitely. Especially in the second book where Fabiola is almost raped by Scaevola and is almost raped again by her father, Julius Caesar.
  • The Seer: Tarquinius the Etruscan haruspex, the only genuine seer in the series despite Rome having many.
  • Street Urchin: Mattius and his sister.
  • Taking the Bullet: Fabiola for Romulus.
  • Two Lines, No Waiting: The first book has three main subplots: Romulus at the ludus, where he meets Brennus (introduced in a prologue), Fabiola at the brothel, and Tarquinius's wanderings. The three males eventually meet in Crassus's army. But Tarquinius unwittingly caused them to be there by murdering his enemy in the dark right when a tipsy Brennus and Romulus were passing. They get blamed for it, fight the night watch, and get out of town. The later two books have two, since Romulus, Brennus and Tarquinus tend to stick together.