Book Review: Warhorn by J. Glenn Bauer

Warhorn, as the name suggests, is a war story. The novel is past paced, exciting and graphic, with great amounts of blood and gore and intricate battle details.
The novel takes place around the year 219 B.C. in Carthaginian-ruled Spain, just before the start of the Second Punic War between Carthage and Rome. Carthage has established a strong presence in Southern Spain and has made alliances with some of the tribes, while violently subduing others. The book’s hero, Caros, belongs to the Bastetani, a tribe in alliance with Carthage.
At the beginning of the book, Caros arrives at his village to find his family, father, mother, and younger brother, murdered by raiders of the Arvenci tribe. Much of the village has been destroyed, its houses burned, the livestock plundered and all those who could not escape or hide, murdered. After seeing to the burial rites of his family, Caros determines to join the Bastetani war leader Alugra who has raised a troop of warriors to hunt down and destroy the Arvenci raiders and reclaim the livestock and other booty. During the troop’s successful encounter with the Arvenci, Caros acquits himself well as a warrior, much to the surprise of his fellows. He spots an Arvenci in possession of his father’s warhorn and determines to give chase. He hires Neugen, a talented tracker to help him pursue the man and his companions.
After a pursuit lasting several days, Caros and Neugen catch up with their prey and, in a fierce struggle, kill the Arvenci and his companions. The fight is witnessed by a troop of Numidians under their leader Massabaca. The Numidians are mercenaries from North Africa working for the Carthaginian general Hannibal. These warriors are so impressed with Caros’ fighting skills that they award him with a war name: Claw of the lion.
Despite his manifest martial skills, Caros has little interest in becoming a warrior. He makes his way to the Bastetani city of Baria and contacts Marc, his father’s agent. He sets about doing business deals and falls in love with Marc’s niece, Imilic. But on their return journey to Caro’s village, he, Neugen and Imilic are set upon by raiders working for the warlord Berenger, and both men are seriously wounded, barely escaping with their lives, while Imilic is taken captive.
Eventually, upon his recovery, Caros ends up joining the Bastetani warriors who are fighting under the banner of Hannibal. He demonstrates his prowess as a warrior and a leader at the battle of the Tagus River where Hannibal defeats a much more numerous enemy, and thus come to the attention of Hannibal. After that he participates in the eight month siege of Sagunt. (Better known by the Roman name of Saguntum.) Unbeknownst to him, Imilic has been taken to Sagunt and is in danger of being sacrificed to the Goddess Catubodua.
J. Glenn Bauer has created a hero’s hero in Caros and readers who are fond of a good war story will enjoy this book.

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