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Caesar: Let the Dice Fly (Masters of Rome, Book 5) Paperback – March 1, 1999

Book 5 of 7 in the Masters of Rome Series

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 664 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; 1st edition (March 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0380710854
  • ISBN-13: 978-0380710850
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (151 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #93,621 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

The fifth volume of McCullough's continuing saga of the history of Rome meets the stellar standards she has set in her earlier books (e.g., Caesar's Women, LJ 12/95). It opens in 54 B.C., with Caesar civilizing and romanizing the different tribes in Britannia and Gaul. After five years of almost constant warfare, Caesar turns all his political brilliance to defeating Pompey, his former son-in-law, who wants to strip Caesar of his power. McCullough clearly loves her subject and has done voluminous research, smoothly interweaving the vast number of facts into the narrative. She gives us a living Caesar, the superb military tactician and the man who cried at his mother's and daughter's deaths. It's not hard to see why his troops (and many women) loved him. The novel is further enriched by McCullough's hand-drawn maps, illustrations of major players, and useful glossary. Essential for historical fiction collections.
-?Nancy Pearl, Washington Ctr. for the Book, Seattle
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Kirkus Reviews

The story of Caesar's Gallic Wars (roughly 5851 b.c.) and return to Rome warfare, followed fictively and, in the main, meticulously, from Caesar's Commentaries. Again, the portraits are memorable--from Brutus (here, a money-mad ``wet fish'' with acne) to Cleopatra (scrawny, ugly, calmly plotting fratricide)--and the politicking is showy, sly, witty, and often deadly. At the close of Caesar's Women (1996), McCullough's fourth massive staging of the power wrests and wrestlings of mighty men of ancient Rome, Julius Caesar, a true colossus of skill and brilliance, had left for ``Further Gaul.'' Now, while mopping up the revolts in his detested Britannia of ``blue-painted relics,'' he receives word from Pompey the Great, First Man in Rome and husband of Caesar's lovely daughter Julia, that Julia and his mother are dead. Grief drains him, but oddly he grows in strength, proceeding to un-Romanized Gaul, pacifying tribe after tribe, and eventually defeating Vercingetorix, an ambitious but inexperienced leader out to unite Gaul, who would not accept Caesar's offer of Rome's ``light rein'' in a ``shrinking world.'' While Caesar with his beloved legions win Gaul with extraordinary tactics and hardship, his foes in Rome have swung Pompey--once a Golden Boy, now tarnished with fatuous conceit and lack of political savvy--to their cause, which is, simply, to destroy Caesar. Although scrupulous in his observance of law, Caesar crosses the Rubicon to become Rome's aggressor. (McCullough appropriately uses Plutarch's account of his utterance: ``Let the dice fly high!'' instead of the gloomy ``The die is cast.'') While temporarily Dictator, afterward, Caesar pursues Pompey's armies until the Great One's sad end. In the wings for Book Six: the gorgeous Mark Antony, slinky Octavius, and Cleopatra. Rewarding but rugged terrain for the casual reader. Armchair generals, though, should love this--perhaps with De bello Gallico at the ready. Maps, glossary, and photos of sculptured portraits of the time. (Book-of-the-Month Club alternate selection/Quality Paperback Book Club selection) -- Copyright ©1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

As always with this author, well researched and well written.
Marion S. Vetri
I strongly recommend this book to anyone who loves to read with one caveat: Beware!
I think it is not only her best book in the seris, but that I've ever read.
jeffery l. perry

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

46 of 49 people found the following review helpful By Shantell Powell on August 28, 2000
Format: Paperback
Just when I was losing faith in the Masters of Rome series, Colleen McCullough throws in some oomph. Caesar brings the ancient battles to life, and shows Gaius Julius Caesar at his most powerful. I think McCullough's strength is in her battle scenes. Even when there is little bloodshed, she does a wonderful job of describing military strategy and tactics. The book is worth reading if only for this.
Caesar shows the return of a writing technique McCullough hasn't shown since The Grass Crown: she includes the point of view of a foreign enemy. In this case, it is Vercingetorix, king of "united Gaul." Although I knew he was doomed from the beginning, I couldn't help but admire his valour and tenacity. It would have been nice if equal attention had been paid to Cathbad, the chief Druid.
The main problem I have with Caesar is the blatant worship of the title character. In McCullough's writings, he can do no wrong. Although I enjoy reading about his great military achievements, it would be awfully nice if he was humanized a tad more. He's just too perfect, and a thin head of hair isn't nearly enough to bring him down to our level. I'm afraid he's become some sort of mortal Superman, and none of the villains happen to have a vial of Kryptonite.
The other problem I have with the book is related to Caesar's hero-worship. Where Caesar and his supporters are portrayed in a in overtly positive ways, his detractors are seen as peevish, jealous, and frankly, rather dumb. I have a difficult time believing the enemies of Caesar were so lacking in positive traits. By the end of the novel, Pompeius Magnus, who started out as a likeable and able general (albeit very temperamental), becomes a whingeing and bullied fool. I think this is a shame. It is also a shame that Cato receives so little personal attention. I think he could be a very sympathetic character if only the attention was paid to him.
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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Joe Conlon on December 1, 1997
Format: Hardcover
In this fifth book of the First Man In Rome series Julius Caesar leaves Rome for the Gallic Wars. The scene shifts between Gaul and Rome as the "Boni" or "Good Men" continue their machinations to destroy Caesar. Pompey Magnus goes from Caesar's ally to his nemesis.
McCullough's greatest gift is to make history come alive. Her characters are not the dry dust of high school history or Latin classes but spring from the page with ambition and passion. My greatest complaint is that she writes so slowly. I've waited two years for this episode to arrive and now I'll have to wait for the next. This entire series is a must read for anyone who is interested in Rome and Romans. McCullough's research is superb and when you finish, your understanding of how Rome ruled the world for 1300 years will have reached your gut level.
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35 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Rosie on December 17, 1999
Format: Paperback
As a history student, I initially mistook 'Caesar' the novel as an actual historical biography. I had a pleasant surprise in store for me. Many historical novels just have ideas about character presentation, not about wars fought or politics. McCullough is a refreshing change, and puts a whole new outlook upon the novelization of history.
It must be said, however, that McCullough's Caesar is an altogether infuriating character - a hero so handsome, so clever, so calm and unflinching to be somewhat unrealistic. Even his friends and allies are presented as being rather hopeless in comparison. The magnificant Pompey the Great as an unsubtle blunderhead from the country, Cicero a weak, wavering man, Mark Antony foolish and impulsive, Cato a raving lunatic - all characteristics handed down throughout history, yes, but these men were more than this and it is a pity that these great historical figures are not given their due. Opinion is unavoidable when writing about history, of course, but one might be tempted to question whether the affairs in ancient Rome at this time were such that one man alone could resolve them, whilst the others tried to stop him. Difficult to justify!
That said, this is overall one of the most impressive pieces of work I have read. The writing style is incredible - read about Clodius' death on the Via Appia, or Fulvia's reaction on learning that her beloved second husband is dead. You'll soon see what I mean. The characters, despite coming from a remote age, are accessible characters whom we can relate too, facing the same joys, fears and problems that we are facing today. I cannot reccomend this book strongly enough even for those who are not experts on Roman history. Read it - you'll sooon feel as if you are!
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Candida Eittreim on January 11, 2006
Format: Paperback
Colleen McCullough's Master of Rome series, includes 6 books, with Caesar being the fifth in the series. Her work can truthfully be called epic, both in scope and historical accuracy. What McCullough has done, is to create out of the dry and often boring tomes about Caesar and the attendant fall of the Republic, a vivid, absorbing and highly entertaining set of books.

The settings span Rome, Germany, Gaul of the Long Hairs and what was known as Africa Province, which included Egypt. The hand drawn maps included in each book, aid the reader in placing the action and locations of the known parts of the countries, either under Roman rule or at war during this turbulent part of Roman history.

The characters, who for the most part are genuine historical figures, spring to life, under McCullough's deft hand.

Gaius Julius Caesar: A man in his prime and at the peak of his powers. He is a perfectionist, who values his dignitas more than life itself. A superb general, wily politician and possessed of a mind bordering on genius, Caesar is hated by a small group-the Boni (good men) for all of his vast abilities. Continually impeded and frustrated by them, he is finally forced to do the unthinkable-cross the Rubicon, and enter Roman lands with military force.

Pompeius: Allied once to Caesar, by marriage to Caesar's beloved daughter Julia, he has become enmeshed in the Boni's plotting to bring Caesar down. Arrogant, selfish, cunning and jealous of Caesar's outstanding successes in the conquering of Gaul, he obtains a Consultatum Ultimatum, which was as close to Dictator as a Picentine upstart was going to get.

Marcus Portius Cato: A moral man, so filled with fears, phobias and a strident hate for Caesar, he continues to obstruct him in everything he does.
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