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Emperor: The Gates of Rome: A Novel of Julius Caesar Paperback – Illustrated, June 23, 2009
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"Iggulden knows that history derives from 'story'. Don't miss it."—Los Angeles Times
"An absorbing portrait of ancient Roman life and history, well written and full of suspense—even for those who know the ending."—Kirkus Reviews
“What Robert Graves did for Claudius, Iggulden now does for the most famous Roman emperor of them all—Julius Caesar.” —William Bernhardt, author of Criminal Intent
About the Author
- Publisher : Delta; Illustrated edition (June 23, 2009)
- Language: : English
- Paperback : 368 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0385343019
- ISBN-13 : 978-0385343015
- Item Weight : 9.8 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.15 x 0.78 x 8.22 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #746,086 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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Maybe it’s just me, but I prefer the history in my historical novels to have some resemblance to events as they actually happened, and for some reason, Iggulden chooses to depart substantially from the known occurrences of the time. Iggulden has read Plutarch and Suetonius and he knows that Caesar’s mother, Aurelia was not a pathetic invalid but was a strong and formidable presence in Julius Caesar’s life. He knows that Marius was not Aurelia’s brother but was married to Julia, his father’s sister, and that the marriage produced a son. He knows that Marius was not captured and killed in a battle for Rome against Sulla, but died in his bed during his last consulship. He knows all of this and yet chooses to present an entirely altered version of the history.
Iggulden tosses in tidbits of Roman history from time to time, but without any regard as to whether the statements are true. For example, this gem: “Even Hannibal had preferred to meet Roman legions in the field rather than assault the city itself. It had taken a man like Scipio to take his head and that of his brother.” Scipio took neither the head of Hannibal nor the head of his brother. Hannibal’s brother died in the battle of Metaurus at the hands of the forces of Nero and Livius. Scipio was in Spain at the time. Even he couldn’t be everywhere at once. As for Hannibal, he took poison to avoid capture by the Romans in 183 BC, the same year Scipio Africanus died at Liternum.
Iggulden even repeats the old canard that the Romans salted the earth around Carthage to prevent the city from ever rising again. There is no evidence in ancient literature that they did this. In fact, the pragmatic Romans would not have wasted salt, which was a precious resource, and would not have wanted to despoil land which could be farmed to feed the growing population of the empire. Twenty-five years after the destruction of Carthage, Gaius Gracchus, as tribune, attempted to found a Roman colony at Carthage. It failed for various reasons, but it wouldn’t have been attempted if the ground had been salted. (The Romans finally rebuilt Carthage under Augustus.)
As I said, maybe it’s just me, but I prefer my historical novels to stick to the historical facts as far as they can be gleaned from the literature.
1: Caesar did not grow up on a fancy estate; he grew up in Suburbia.
2. The Julii were noble patricians, but had been impoverished for generations rather than the wealthy and powerful family that Conn Iggulden describes.
3. While it is true that Gaius Marius was Caesar's uncle, that is because he was married to Caesar's father's sister Julii not brother to Caesar's mother. Caesar's mother Aurelia was a Cotta not a Marius.
4. Marius was not married to Sulla's wife Metulla, Sulla was in later years.
5. Marius was not killed when he was Consul for the third time; he died of natural cause when Consul for the seventh time.
I did not finish this novel, nor will I read any other books in the series.
OTOH, I will admit that it is well written and that if adherence to historical reality is of no consequence, it is an interesting read and seems well researched from a life-in-ancient-Rome point of view.
development as a youth while retaining accuracy to the extent we have a record of his family and upbringing. For instance we know his relationship to Marius was by way of his father's sister, not as brother to his mother. Why deviate from that relationship? Having his father die during a slave rebellion seems a lazy way to add drama, rather than weaving an interesting and convincing story around his relationship with his father within the known historical context. The writing itself is not bad, hence two stars, I just do not like his approach to the story.
Top reviews from other countries
The author has a wonderful way of making you feel like you are there. In parts I felt the story at times would jar, but this can be forgiven as I may have been reading with tired eyes after reading so much each sitting due to the excitement and intrigue the story brings.
Character wise, Renius is my favourite. I picture Oliver Reed from Gladiator every time he comes into it. Great story with real substance and heart.