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`Claudius' is a true Roman novel in every way. From the battles with more blood than an exploding vampire, to the graphic descriptions of dismemberment, to the maze of Roman politics, Douglas continues one hell of a tale. Narcissus is the puppet master, Claudius is the lead actor, and Rufus is the bit player. Not because he's isn't important, but rather because he and his elephant are at the Emperor's bidding. And since being the Emperor of Rome means you have to have some sort of serious mental disorder, Claudius wants "his" elephant to fight against the Britain's.
Unfortunately the Britain's will not go quietly; Julius Caesar was witness to that. So Rome and her ego, I mean Emperor, plan another slaughter. I enjoy reading about the plights of the other side and Caratacus and his people provide the perfect fodder.
Rome wasn't the only nation that had honor and they weren't the only nation to bathe in blood. Both sides prepare... and the gods wait.
I connected with this book in a very unique way that is hard to fake. The author does a great job of making the characters real. It was very easy for me to connect with Rufus and feel the fear that he felt going into battle as the trainer of the emperor's elephant. The story does an amazing job of building the pressure leading up to the main engagement between the Roman and British forces at a river crossing in lower Britain as well. As the story rotates between the viewpoints of the two armies, it is very hard to predict which army will be victorious (assuming you clear your knowledge of Roman history ahead of time). The story really stresses the intricate number of variables in battles plans that can change the tide of battle and the amount of stress that comes with the realities of the fog of war. It really helped me as a reader get into the mindset of how a Roman soldier would be feeling before the battles and the overactive imaginations of soldiers that take over when contemplating the unknown elements of battle to come.
I picked this book up as someone who was craving a story about Roman conquests and was not disappointed by what this book delivered.