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The Death of Kings (Emperor, Book 2) Hardcover – March 2, 2004

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

After what was in effect a preamble—Emperor: The Gates of Rome (2003)—Julius Caesar takes center stage in this second fast-moving, action-oriented installment in Iggulden's projected four-book retelling of the Roman emperor's saga. Julius, a rising young officer assigned to the Roman-controlled northern coast of Africa, distinguishes himself in a bloody raid on the fortress of Mytilene only to have his transport ship captured by pirates. He and the crew are thrown into the hold to rot while awaiting a ransom that will likely ruin his young family back in Rome. After the ransom arrives, Julius gathers his loyal men and marches along the coast, impressing the locals (pirate collaborators all) into military service. He makes good on his bloody promise to wipe out the pirates, then takes his forces to Greece, where, at long odds, he defeats old king Mithridates, who is leading an insurrection that threatens Roman rule in all of Greece. Julius returns to Rome victorious and rich—only to find that the corruption and thuglike violence at the heart of the Republic has come near to destroying those he holds dear, including his wife and small daughter. Those looking for depth of character may be disappointed that Julius Caesar is pictured as little more than a man gripped by driving ambition. Iggulden does a better job in weaving an intricate and compelling tapestry of Roman underling and slave life, with several well-developed minor characters whose craftiness, loyalty and heroics far overshadow those of their social betters.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

The saga of Julius Caesar continues in this second volume of the author's projected four-volume fictional chronicle of the rise of the Roman emperor. The story picks up on the eve of battle. Caesar is poised to lead a military assault; it's been six months since he last saw combat, and he is getting a little antsy. The siege goes well, but, soon after, Caesar is kidnapped (he will later be ransomed and left to fend for himself on the continent of Africa). Meanwhile, far away in Rome, his friend Brutus is building his political empire. Soon the two men will be reunited, as a renegade threatens Rome--a renegade named Spartacus. This is delightfully entertaining historical fiction, a combination of scholarship and inventiveness that brings the historical figures vividly to life while educating us, gracefully and subtly, about Rome at the height of its powers. David Pitt
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Series: Emperor (Book 2)
  • Hardcover: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Delacorte Press; 1st edition (March 2, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385336624
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385336628
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.3 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (106 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #607,256 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Despite finding time to write historical novels and The Dangerous Book for Boys, Conn Iggulden is in some ways better known as a trainer of Tollins. His Tollin troupe, "Small and Mighty," are famous in Tasmania, where they often play to packed houses. "It used to be just a hobby," he says, "but when you've seen a display of Tollin synchronized flying, you realize it's your life's work. Also, they can be transported in shoe boxes, so it's pretty cheap to get around."

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Scott Schiefelbein VINE VOICE on April 8, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I was not a huge fan of Conn Iggulden's, "The Gates of Rome," his first novel in his planned four-volume "Emperor" series, in which he fictionalizes the life and times of Julius Caesar. He took enormous historical liberties with his tale, and his conceit of keeping the identities of his protagonists (Julius Caesar and his friend-turned-assassin Brutus) secret didn't really work.

Iggulden's second novel in the "Emperor" series, "The Death of Kings," is a much more enjoyable read. Caesar and Brutus are now young men soldiering for Rome, and Iggulden has a knack for writing battle scenes and depicting the soldier's life. Not as poetic as Steven Pressfield, nor quite as violent as Bernard Cornwell, Iggulden is nevertheless capable of spinning a riveting tale. From his opening scene of a night raid on a rebellious Greek city to the climactic battle against Spartacus, Iggulden throws the reader pell-mell into the chaos of battle.

Iggulden also has a command of the realities of daily life in the Roman world. It's refreshing to see history's great figures dealing with the frustrations and agonies of the real world just as we all do -- from pulled muscles to tormenting flies to the pangs of a romance that isn't working. All too often, authors make their protagonists super-human, and Iggulden enjoyably refuses to play this game. Further, without going overboard on the historical details, Iggulden reminds the reader that we are reading about a world centuries gone, but it was nevertheless a civilized world with its own craft and technology.

The novel also gains as Iggulden reduces the elements of mysticism from the first novel.
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46 of 52 people found the following review helpful By ilmk on March 2, 2004
Format: Hardcover
After reading the first one I stated that I thought the series would get better and better.
Unfortunately not., but it's no worse than the first.
Any complaints about historical mangling in the first novel will only be increased on reading this one and I suspect it'll either get great reviews or bad reviews depending on your need for historical accuracy.
Iggulden's second novel `Emperor: The Death of Kings' opens with the young tessarius Gaius Julius Caesar part of a naval party storming the fortress town of Mytilene to rescue governor Paulus. The chapter serves, as does much of the previous novel and this one, to demonstrate the episodic nature of Caesar's rise through the ranks as he overcomes physical obstacles and personally rescues the governor.
As with the preceding novel anyone with any knowledge of the period and the characters will swiftly realise the gaping historical inaccuracies, fundamental character reversals and disappearances of other key people (Marcus Tullius Cicero the most blatant) continue in this volume. This is neatly demonstrated by Sulla's death at the hands of Tubruk's ice sorbet.
Still....we move swiftly on to the episode with the pirates, a clout to the head being the given cause of Caesar's future epilepsy and follow Marcus Brutus as he returns a centurion and promptly cuts a swathe through the female nobility of Rome with more alacrity after meeting with his mother Servilia who is a high class courtesan. From there we focus on Julius' destruction of Mithridates, his retention of his home in the law courts, his continuing enmity with Suetonius and now the portly Cato and the hiccup with Brutus over the recreation and command of Marius' Primigenia legion (which never existed).
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on January 19, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Mr. Iggulden has the ability to craft a nicely-told story in such an action-packed way that I'm surprised he is a novelist and not a screen-play writer. With so much rich history and so many fascinating personages during the fall of the Republic and the rise of the Empire, does one really need to make things up to be a good read? I don't think.

Brutus was NEVER a centurion, for goodness sakes! Aristocracy filled the officer ranks, not the non-coms. Centurion ranking would have been an insult, if not an utter impossibility. The ultimate example 'non-reality' is the fabrication regarding the poisoning death of Sulla . . . a glaring historic inaccuracy. After reading that, the book just became another alternative history novel.

And yes, the pirates were crucified, every last one of them. Mr. Iggulden apparently believes that his readers don't have the stomach for that, or he is trying to paint a portrait of Caesar as if he had the moral sensibilities of today. Nothing could be further from the truth . . . just like this novel.

If you want to read a gripping accounting of Caesar's capture, captivity, escape, and eventual revenge upon the pirates, I would suggest reading `Cutter's Island' by Vincent Panella. It is told in the first person, from Caesar's perspective, and is a vastly superior account of this event in the young Caesar's life.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Suet on October 10, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Darn, *gladius et caligae*. For what it is - sword and sandals fantasy, not historical fiction, and there is a difference - this is great value. Much derring is done. Scarcely a swash is left unbuckled. If you liked 'Gladiator' you'll swear by this, and please refrain from going 'huh?' as noble patrician Julius Caesar works his way up from corporal, Octavian Augustus cameos as a street urchin years before he was born, and ... well, some of the fans may have trouble spelling Caesar but they know what they like. (If nothing about this tale strikes you as offbeat, I'd like to interest you in a valuable stake in the Pontifex Maximus.) The series so far doesn't come within ave distance of McCullough's 'Masters of Rome', but to be fair it doesn't aim to. This is history lite.

No sooner have we met Corporal Caesar than he is captured by pirates, ransomed, and returns with a mob of heavies to demand his money back (don't say 'me too' at the back, this bit really happened). Pausing only to put down old King Mithridates of Pontus (who had plenty of practice at being put down but none of it against Caesar), he returns in triumph to Rome and makes the exalted rank of military tribune. After that there's some political stuff before it falls to young Julius to save the Republic from Kirk Douglas (you've seen the movie - shocking, our hero didn't even get a bit part.) And there are two volumes to come.

To take an analogy you may be familiar with, it's as if Bernard Cornwell depicted Sergeant Wellington winning the Battle of Trafalgar. I have no principled objection to this but I can't help asking: why? Don't let me put you off. Mr Iggulden is a fluent writer and some of the background verges on the authentic.
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