|Publication Date||February 14, 2012|
264BC. Rome has completed her conquest of the Italian Peninsula and stands eyeball to eyeball with the ancient trading empire of Carthage across the Strait of Messena. One man stands between Rome and her goal of world domination: Hamilcar Barca, father of the most famous Carthaginian General, Hannibal. This is the story of the Barca family’s pivotal role in the First Punic War and the events which flowed from it.
In her conquest of the Italian Peninsula, Rome had become a monster. She needed fresh conquests regularly, if only to pay for the last one. Hungry for expansion, the Romans cast their eyes across the narrow strait separating Italy from the Carthaginian held territories on Sicily. On a pretext they sent their troops to invade and the First Punic War had begun. The Roman Legions carried all before them in the first years of the war. Carthage was driven back until it held but two besieged settlements on the west coast of the Island: Lilybaeum and Drepana.
In a desperate bid to save the war, Carthage raises an army of mercenaries and appoints her finest up and coming military leader to command them. Hamilcar Barca is recalled from Spain to take his army to Sicily and wage a guerrilla war against a Roman army that outnumbers his by three to one.
While fighting in Sicily, Hamilcar must also fight the dominant faction in Carthaginian politics: the merchants who persist in the belief that they can buy the Romans off.
Starved of resources, Hamilcar clings on in Sicily until the Romans construct a vast armada and defeat the Carthaginian navy in a climactic battle off the Aegates Islands of Sicily; the biggest naval battle in the history of the world, to date.
Cut off entirely, Hamilcar has no choice but to follow the instruction he is given by the Carthaginian Senate and negotiate the surrender of Sicily. The war is over, for the time being, but Hamilcar is soon recalled to fight again. His arch enemy in the Senate, Hanno the Fat, has managed to induce Hamilcar’s old mercenary troops to rebel by cheating them out of their promised pay. They rise up and lay siege to the Carthaginian City of Utica; they will take what is rightfully theirs if it is not given. Hamilcar is recalled and asked to crush his old comrades.
He agrees, provided he can then take the army he uses to Spain, so that he can set up a branch of Carthaginian Empire free from the corrupting influence of the merchants on the Senate. Funded by Spanish silver, Hamilcar will build a power in Spain capable of facing Rome when she inevitably strikes again.