The end is nigh for the hit Starz series Spartacus, as season 3 draws near. The show – based on the historical figure who led a slave rebellion against the Roman Empire – earned record ratings when it premiered on the network in 2010, but has since faced numerous challenges to stay in production. Most notably, its original star Andy Whitfield became diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma and left the show to seek treatment following production of its first season. He passed away in 2011.

During its second season, Spartacus persisted with Liam McIntyre in the lead role, but alas, Starz announced a few months ago that its upcoming third season would be its last. When word of the series’ impending conclusion broke, series creator Stephen S. DeKnight maintained that ending the show on a high note – with, as he said, “The biggest season [they’ve] ever attempted” – was ultimately the right decision.

However, Spartacus fans don’t have too long to wait to witness the show’s sure-to-be-epic conclusion. Starz has confirmed that the show’s final season, dubbed Spartacus: War of the Damned, will premiere on January 25th.

The final season picks up after the defeat of Roman commander Gaius Claudius Glaber (Craig Parker, The Lord of the Rings trilogy) and follows Spartacus as he attempts to build on his existing slave rebellion. During the course of the season, Spartacus will be forced to face Marcus Crassus (Simon Merrells).

While the series may be ending prematurely, it sounds as though Spartacus fans have much to look forward to in the coming months. Perhaps wrapping the show up while it still has a rabid fanbase will ensure that the resulting season keeps the quality of Spartacus on par with previous seasons. After all, many series end up creatively drained and hollow by the end of their runs, petering off the airwaves instead of leaving fans wanting more.

Do you think Starz made the right call in ending Spartacus? How should the series conclude? Sound off in the comments section.

As previously stated, Spartacus: War of the Damned will premiere on Starz on January 25, 2013 at 9pm.