The Parthian

Parthian Chronicles series, Book 1
Narrated by: Michael Page
Series: Parthian Chronicles Series, Book 1
Length: 24 hrs and 3 mins
Categories: History, Ancient History
4.5 out of 5 stars (67 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

When Rome transgresses upon his father's domain that lays between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, Pacorus, a prince of the Parthian Empire, is sent to exact revenge. After a string of victories, Pacorus and his men are captured in Cappadocia, clapped in chains, and sent to Italy to live out the rest of their days as slaves. 

But fate intervenes and Pacorus and his companions are saved from a living hell by a renegade gladiator named Spartacus. In gratitude, Pacorus agrees to help Spartacus build his army as Rome musters its legions to crush the slave uprising. And so begins an epic adventure of glory and savagery played out across the length and breadth of Italy, as Spartacus defeats the armies of Rome and Pacorus leads his horsemen to victory after victory. 

But will Pacorous and the slave army escape from Italy, and will he win the love of the fierce and proud Gallia before the most powerful man in Rome, Marcus Licinius Crassus, takes the field against Spartacus?

©2014 Pete Darman (P)2018 Tantor

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Another view of the Spartacus War

An excellent in side fictional view of the slave revolt that became the Spartacus Wars. The use of a Parthian prince was great twist. His view of the war was from his horse legions. It should be noted that the documented history of Spartacus is scant at best. History is written by the winners. The story and performance kept me listening longer than planed.

3 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Had a lot of potential...

Here we have a historical fiction focused on the servile war led by Spartacus that includes a very slight element of fantasy (prophetic visions). There was tremendous potential for a great story, but unfortunately this book had a lot of problems. Michael Page did very well on the audiobook narration. His voices are distinct, varied, and well crafted. His vocal inflections are spot on and his tempo variations are effective. The one negative to the narration is some of the accents were not accurate to the ethnic backgrounds of the characters (Spartacus, for example, who is Thracian, sounded Norwegian). Now, the story. Let's start with what this novel does well. Despite my aversion to first person, Pacorus has a compelling voice that allowed me to get invested in the story. In the scenes where details are given, the attention given them is well balanced, giving a wonderful sense of atmosphere while not being so excessive that they dominate the narrative. Most of the characters are well developed with at least somewhat believable reactions. The general plot line is straightforward and makes sense. Now, if you don't want to know all things about this book that bothered me, this is your one chance to skip to my assessment of the climax at the bottom. I fear this is a rather long list of problems. First, let's talk about historical accuracy for a minute. There are several issues here. Not the least of which being that Spain (and, ergo, Spaniards) did not exist until the 15th century AD/CE, but rather most of it was part of Gaul at the time of this story. Similarly, Germany did not exist in any official way until the 19th century AD/CE, and unofficially its existence can only be charted back to the formation of the Holy Roman Empire in the 10th century, a millennium after this book takes place. The Longsword did not exist anywhere in any capacity until the medieval period. And leather armor, contrary to popular belief, was never commonplace (it was used, it was just never a standard). Gambison, chain, scale, and banded armors were much more common, even in the pre-Christian days of the Servile Wars. Now, while it is true that when viewed through the lens of a reasonably civilized society, the Gauls were certainly barbaric and violent, I don't for one second believe their depiction here as being nothing more than emotionless rapists and baby killers who enjoy nothing except drink and senseless butchery. Now, my next major issue is with explanations. At one point, Pacorus is told the story of how and why Spartacus broke free of the ludus, and it just smacks of utter nonsense. First, if he had so little self control he would have been killed very quickly. But also, if breaking free had been that easy (there was no planning involved, it was a spur of the moment decision) then they would have done it much sooner. He's also told the story of how Spartacus was made a slave, and once again the thinness of the explanation defies belief. Why would he just decide, out of boredom and lack of loot, to abandon his post and become a fugitive? It makes no sense. Likewise, the explanation for why Gallia was sold into slavery is nonsensical. Even in an environment such as she grew up in, it would take more than that. Crixus. This one isn't so much that I can't believe the explanation but that there isn't one. The reason for Crixus and Pacorus's mutual enmity is barely there, and the explanation for why Crixus and the Gauls leave Spartacus is even thinner. I would have liked to see an actual reason that makes sense for both of these. And finally, the event that leads to Spartacus's death left me utterly baffled. While it is made clear almost from his introduction that the man is emotionally unstable, this event suggests a level of emotional codependence and imbalance that would make other of his actions in the story utterly impossible. Of only slightly less concern is the way the text blatantly contradicts itself repeatedly. There are multiple occasions where Pacorus directly says, "I didn't know." or "I couldn't tell," or other similar wording that makes it clear he has no idea. Then in the next breath he goes on to relate the very details he just said he doesn't know. Lastly, let's talk about the writing itself for a minute. At first blush, the writing seems good. It's clear. It's evocative. It's descriptive. But as the story progresses, we end up with more and more passive voice, more and more telling rather than showing, more and more exposition, and more and more skipping over things and jumping through time. By the halfway point, the book dissolves into just jumping from one major plot point to the next (each easily traceable in any historic text or film about Spartacus) with virtually no story between them. This book felt rushed. The story of the Spartacus war is a long one that should include myriad details not available in any history, as there is so little that we know as fact. I can't help thinking that this book should have been split into three (or more) books of this length to do justice to the story. Moving on to the ending. For all its issues, the ending actually comes together quite well, though there is still a suspicious lack of detail on just how Pacorus and his followers make it out of Rome. The final conclusion is well presented and hit all the right emotional notes. Unfortunately, it fails to make up for all the problems earlier in the book.

1 person found this helpful

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crafted and fascinating

it took awhile to get into the story and the narration is a little idiosyncratic - but soon grew on me. the story is beautifully crafted and paced and I thoroughly enjoyed the characterisation and sense if historical research which seems reasonably accurate. I would have liked some historical note at the end.

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Not much Depth...

None of the characters are particularly likable, or even developed very well--especially the main character. There is action, though, just not very well portrayed. The performance is not that great either. Some of the accents are really ridiculous and should just be avoided. Still, it's long, and tells a kind of interesting story.

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  • J. T. Ronan
  • 01-30-20

One complaint

The reading, story, was terrific the only complaint is the chapters in the book are 39 but when you are listening there are only 19 which doesn't really matter but sometimes on a phone you can turn on the book in error and it is hard to find the chapter that you were on if they don't match the book. But still a great book can't wait to listen to the other two