12.27.2006

HH Com 476

What if Spartacus wasn’t really the all-American hero as portrayed by Kirk Douglas?

Films about the infamous gladiator-turned-general have omitted the fact that his army escaped the Roman military but, standing on the brink of freedom, chose not to cross the Alps. Instead, they turned and headed back into the heart of Italy. Why?

Historians may never uncover the truth about the medallions that Spartacus made atop Mount Vesuvius. The medallions, and not superior fighting skills, allowed his slave army to defeat the Roman military for years. But there was a price to pay.

Now, a demon who has planned apocalypse since the time of Spartacus is on the verge of escaping his dimension. Only a handful of people can discover the truth, defeat the demon, and prevent the apocalypse. Is there still time?

Dream War, a thriller, weaves together Roman history with modern-day, dark fantasy. It will leave you questioning how much is fact and how much, if any, is fiction.


wanna bet?
that kind of hyperbole is off putting in the extreme.

Spartacus as an "all american hero" is a howler.

You may have an idea here but you've given it a hook with a bad haircut and high water pants.
Start over. Focus on YOUR story.

32 comments:

Akuseru said...

Spartacus as an "all american hero" is a howler.

I agree wholeheartedly. I do like the idea this presents, but I'm not all that excited about this because there's no mention of any of the characters except Spartacus--and it's not even clear to me that he's actually got a role bigger than a few mentions here and there. I'd like to see more information about the characters here, and much less about Kirk Douglas and gladiator films.

Gabriele C. said...

Hey, that could be a fun read if the writer does some research about the real Spartacus before he adds the Fantasy twists. Hollywood does not historical movies make, no matter what Gibson, Bruckmeier and others claim.

Anonymous said...

good grief.

medallions ??

is every writer now a days a 12 yr old dungeon and dragons fanatic?

jeez

e

Anonymous said...

Spartacus, escaped slave turned legend, had more help than history records in his near-successful bid to lead his army to freedom.

Of course at this point I AM pre-coffee.

Anonymous said...

"Hollywood does not historical movies make, no matter what Gibson, Bruckmeier and others claim."

Gibson made one of the most historically accurate pictures ever released with The Passion of the Christ.

Michele said...

My thought on the first sentence was that of course Spartacus wasn't an "all-american hero" - he wasn't American!

That's an interesting point you mention about them turning back to Italy. That would be a really interesting story without a demon chasing them back.

merper said...

I'm guessing the part with the demon is fantasy.

jamiehall said...

I had a comment outlined in my mind. But now I see that akuseru pretty much said exactly what I had been planning to.

So, here's a comment to second what akuseru says.

Anonymous said...

I don't get what medallions have to do with Dungeons & Dragons.

Can someone please explain that one?

Inkwolf said...

The All American Hero line was a WTF for me, too. And I have a personal dislike of books that claim that great people of the past were only great because they secretly were time travellers/magicians/aliens/angels/demons or whatever.

I also wonder where Spartacus found a demon, since his life happened before Christ was born and he was most likely a believer in Roman or Greek gods. I'm not a scholar, but I seem to recall the classic gods haveing more than enough fun smacking each other (and the occasional mortal) around, and no demons existed in their pantheon that I know of.

Sorry, I think you need to research more than just the movie, and rewrite.

Elektra said...

"Films about the infamous gladiator-turned-general have omitted the fact that his army escaped the Roman military but, standing on the brink of freedom, chose not to cross the Alps. Instead, they turned and headed back into the heart of Italy. Why?"

Because they heard about Hannibal?

You want a good slave revolt story, read Pliny's letters. The slaves beat the master in his bath, knocked him out (amoung other things--I finally got to learn the Latin word for a rather sensitive area of the male body). Then they couldn't decide if he was dead of not, so they said, "Roll him in the fire and see." They roll him in the fire, decide he's actually dead, and give him to the faithful servants while they make good their get-away. Unfortunately, he wasn't dead--he revived a few minutes later and called the police. Almost all the slaves were captured, and the master had the pleasure of seeing them killed--before dying himself a few days later.

This is why I'm a Latin major.

ello said...

Well, Kirk Douglas might be "an all american hero" but Spartacus is a real historical figure and to label him thus is so ridiculous that it makes me question your basic research skills. He was possibly Thracian, possibly Greek, no one knows for sure but he was most definitely not American. I know you know that so it is a sloppy mistake, but it is a big one. You pick upon the biggest military blunder that Spartacus made as the plot premise of your story and that is definitely fascinating, but you don't give enough information about your plot to make it a real hook and all the stuff about the films doesn't help. I'm dubious about the medallions and the demons. You would really need to sell that concept in the hook and not waste it on rhetoric.

Heather said...

Any time you tell your readers what they're going to think of your book, you are going to lose a bunch of them.

I don't need to be told how I'm going to feel about your book before I've even read it. In fact, if you tell me, I won't. After all, you've already told me how I should feel, why should I go out of my way to make sure you're right?

I never did read the Davinci Code, either. And that's what this feels like it's trying to be.

ObiDonWan said...

Unless Spartacus is the main character and somehow survived through the centuries, there is no main character here except an unnamed demon. There was a very nice trio of books with a demon as the main character, Bartimeus... but what's your intention here? Have you actually written this book?

Anonymous said...

Okay, I pretty much agree with the general sentiments of everyone, but I'm not sure about the WTF reaction to the first line, or why it matters that it's a howler.

The author is saying her Spartacus ISN'T the Hollywood-ized fake all-American version. He/she is saying ignore the silliness that Hollywood created, and listen to this grittier, more real version.

Except it seems to be more fantasy than history, but that's another issue.

Maybe the problem is the "what if," which implies alternate history, as if the all-American version was reality. Maybe it needs something like, "Kirk Douglas portrayed Spartacus as if he were an all-American hero, but..."

BernardL said...

Your hook worked for me, except for the first and last lines. I knew what you meant in the first line about All-American. Spartacus has been lionized in American movie lore. The medallion part may need some work too, but your idea is an interesting one.

Anonymous said...

"You may have an idea here but you've given it a hook with a bad haircut and high water pants."

Miss Snark, you are funny as hell, and there's a lot of meaning in your barbs!

jamiehall said...

inkwolf said:

I also wonder where Spartacus found a demon, since his life happened before Christ was born and he was most likely a believer in Roman or Greek gods.

All cultures have demons in their folklore. It isn't a uniquely Christian religious construct.

Anonymous said...

Dear Miss Snark,
The Grumpy Old Bookman blog is writing about the crapometer contest, and at one point he seems to address you as "Vera" rather than Miss Snark. Just a word to the wise if he is compromising your secret identity.

A snarkling

KingM said...

"Hollywood does not historical movies make, no matter what Gibson, Bruckmeier and others claim."

Gibson made one of the most historically accurate pictures ever released with The Passion of the Christ.


Speaking of howlers. Only a Biblical literalist would make such a claim. Even then, Gibson picked and chose from what he chose to portray. Oddly enough (or not), he chose to lovingly portray the torture.

Anonymous said...

Oh. My. God.

Miss Snark is Vera Wang? The Mattress Queen?

Any advice on where to find sheets for 'em, Vera? They're Piled awfully High and Deep.

Inkwolf said...

jamiehall said...

"All cultures have demons in their folklore. It isn't a uniquely Christian religious construct."

It's not uniquely Christian, no.

Nor does every culture believe in demons, as you claim.

I certainly don't recall any demons in any of the Greek and Roman mythology I've read, and this story is based in the culture of the Roman Empire. If there is a classical scholar here who could enlighten me, I'd concede the point, but while the Greeks and Romans had various physical monsters and lots of naturalistic magical creatures, I don't recall any being who would fit the modern concept of a demon.

LindaBudz said...

I second Michelle's comment ... this had me hooked until the demon showed up.

HawkOwl said...

Damn. This was going so well until the demon showed up.

I love Spartacus. Tell me why he really didn't cross the Alps and I'll read your book forward and backward. All-American hero or not.

roach said...

From A Field Guide to Demons... by Carol Mack and Dinah Mack: Hesiod refers to innumerable invisible daimons who belong to two categories, guardian spirits and "evil spirits of disease that can cause harm." There's mention of the Odyssey treating daimons as supernatural forces. They are also mentioned by Horace and Plato (who "definitively classifies and establishes the fuction of the daemonic species for us, in his Symposium". (p. xxxi)

These are all Greek scholars but I think it's safe to presume that the Romans had their demons as well.

Feemus said...

Inkwolf,
"Demon" is derived from Greek δαίμων, which is the word Socrates uses for his guiding spirit.

In Homer, it often has the sense of some divine power that one wishes not to name and it often connected to "fate."

In Aeschylus, it is used of an evil genius that governs a family's destiny or lot (some scholars relate the word to the verb δαίω, which means to divide or apportion, as lots).

It is often used to describe a presiding spirit, often although not necessarily an evil one.

The diminutive, δαιμονιος, is frequently used to describe lesser divinities, often malevolent. This usage corresponds quite closely to our own, I think.

The word makes its way into Judeo-Christian vocabulary through the Septuagint (the Koine Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible in the Hellenistic period)

Inkwolf said...

Okay, my apologies.

Me and my big mouth have been clearly put in our place. :D

roach said...

Me and my big mouth have been clearly put in our place.

Or you just learned something you didn't know before. Don't you feel smarter already? ;D

By the by, I like the idea of a story about Spartacus, but I get the feeling from the hook that he's just backstory. Which is a shame. And I have no problems with demons or medalions showing up in the story, but I'm a fantasy junkie.

Gabriele C. said...

Hawkowl,
one can speculate a bit why Spartacus' 'army' didn't cross the Alpes. For one, look at what he had got: it started with some gladiators and I won't be surprised if Spartacus would have prefered to keep it a that, but then they attracted all sorts of people, and most of them not used to fighting. A Greek house slave may be desperate enough to take up a hasta when cornered, but what the majority of his army lacked was the true fighting spirit you need to conquer. And crossing the Alps with such a large group would have meant to fight for land. And fight against people right out of Roman Bad Boy topics. The attacks of the Germanic Cimbri and Teutones were still fresh in memory, northern Gaul had not yet been conquered by Caesar - all the bad things always came over the Alps. The images of the impenetrable woods and bogs, the eternal rain of the lands in the north spread by Roman historiography, surely were ingraved in Roman thinking. Spartacus' people simply didn't want to go there.

No, they wanted to go to northern Africa, a safe land (Carthago and later Jugurtha' rebellion had been put down for good) where the climate was warm and the ground fertile. The problem was that they needed ships to go there. I have a feeling that the criss-crossing of Italy by Spartacus' rag-tag army happened because they waited for a wonder and ships.

And I'm not sure how much power Spartcaus actually had over the people gathering under his name. Nor can I figure out why he and his gladiators didn't just leave them - I bet he was tempted but then gave in to humanity, responsibility, power ...? That could make for some really interesting character conflict.

Of course, it's speculation, I'm not that well acquainted with Spartacus, my interests lie in later times, the German wars, the conquest of Britain (esp. the troubles in the north), and the beginning of the end when the Visigoths lay siege to Rome and the Burgundians cross the Rhine.

HawkOwl said...

See, that's a great story right there. :) Thank you, Gabriele.

Anonymous said...

Um... to be an All American Hero, don't you have to be American??????

batgirl said...

So, were the medallions cast in Hephaestus's little metalworking shop in the fires of Vesuvius? Do they do Rings of Power as well? The Spartacus part of the story is interesting, but the medallions and the demon make it sounds as if we're taking a turn into Well-Travelled Generic Fantasy Land.