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About John Timbers
I've been many things in my life from a kitchen hand to a ship's steward, an army officer with a twenty plus year active service career, a marketing executive, project manager, business development consultant, magazine editor - oh, and quite a few variations on those themes. I've also been lucky enough to travel the world widely.
My five-book venture into historical novel-writing resulted in The Rutilius Journals, published between 2006 and 2010. Oh, but what a story Caesar told, and what a shame so few get to read it these days when most people like to get their history off the box and accept what they see as gospel truth. How sad, when so much history is traduced for 'entertainment' and warped by modern 'tastes', i.e: sex and violence.
Using those famous commentaries as a basis for an historical fiction series, my aim was to give Julius Caesar credit for what he was really trying to do and right the wrongs done to him over the millennia by historians who almost unanimously accept the hostile propaganda put about by men who wanted to promote the fiction that the Republic of Rome was some kind of Utopia, enhanced to live on in Rome under the Emperors created by his heirs.
After adding an omnibus edition of these five individual stories to Kindle, I have been persuaded to add my free translation of Caesar's commentaries: De Bello Gallico & Bellum Civil I have supplemented this with a little diversion by way of a joint venture with my wife into the culinary expertise of the Romans. We cooked and tasted all of our recipes. (Actually, probably my/our best-seller).
In a moment of madness, I have added a slim memoir of family adventures on a small trailer/sailer, interspersed with 'warries' from my time in Malaya as a young soldier. Someone found it funny enough to give it five stars.
Since completing the Caesar project, I have branched out into lighter fiction - some might call it sci-fi or possibly fantasy - with my "Think Freedom" trilogy, a semi-serious discussion of the risks of venturing into parapsychology - psi. Now someone has embarked upon doing what I thought might be a good fiction idea and proved there is something in it for real. I subsequently turned the trilogy into a series of four, although I don't think I can milk any more out of it!
Possibly my last contribution is a commentary on the Bible as we know it and how I see it as a construct favoured by a clique of Bishops at the beginning of Emperor Constantine's reign when – at the instigation of his wife, Helena – he made Christianity the prime religion of Rome, although he probably continued to favour the ancient Roman Mithraic cult favoured by his soldiers and sailors. Inthe Autumn of 2021 I published a second heavily revised edition of this commentary, removing all speech attributed to historical characters that didn't appear in the various editions of the Bible that are in circulation.
Titles By John Timbers
From the second book of the trilogy onwards the principal character is arguably the psi enabled Artificial Intelligence-controlled supercomputer, developed by the Project Artemis team and self-named Adamanta.
That is what I've tried to do and will no doubt continue to do.
Caesar's Tribune – first written in 1972 but only published in 2006
Master of Gaul – first written in 1973 but only published in 2006
Albion Ablaze – written in 2007/8 and published in 2009
A View to a Death – written and published in 2009
The Road to the Rubicon – written and published in 2010
They are based on Julius Caesar's Commentaries on the Gallic Wars, published in seven 'books' by the great general himself at the point where he considered he had achieved his objective, which was to 'pacify' Gaul (roughly modern France and Belgium) and bring it into the peaceful sphere of Rome's growing empire. By so doing he effectively neutralised Gaul's capacity to ever threaten Rome again. An eighth book was added after Caesar's assassination by Aulus Hirtius, one of Caesar's right hand men.
Through the last two millennia JC has received a bad press as the man who destroyed the Republic of Rome and paved the way for the Principate of Imperial Rome.
The fact is that the Republic was doomed anyway and certainly not worth saving. It was corrupt to the core. Caesar wanted to build a new state based on meritocracy NOT the old all-powerful and venal oligarchy of ancient Roman noble families (of which he was a scion). He was a brilliant, cultured polymath, way ahead of his time.
Marcus Rutilius, Caesar's Tribune, the fictional hero, is also way ahead of his time but in a very different way – in fact a man of the twenty-first century.
This is Historical Fiction at its best, following Caesar's wars faithfully but with much very plausible deviation to explore the unrecorded details, without changing historical facts to fit present day ideology and sentimentality.
Find out what Rome and the Romans were really like; read about their astonishingly advanced technology, their moral values, ideas about slavery, the woman's role in high society.
It plots the headlong rush of the rightwing oligarchy in Rome towards their own destruction, brought on by their determination to crush the threat that Julius Caesar posed to the continuation of their corrupt rule over Rome and its conquered provinces. The period covered is the last two years of the war in Gaul (roughly 51 and 50 BC), in which Caesar was busy consolidating his hold on Gaul after his decisive victory over Vercingetorix, the one Gallic warlord ever to unite the warring Gallic tribes into one army, which might have stood a chance of preventing Gallia Comata from being subsumed into the growing Roman Empire as yet another single province, like their neighbours In Transalpine Gaul (known to the Romans at the time as The Province) to the south.
Caesar at the beginning of this phase of the Commentaries was on course to achieve his goal of a second Consulship (in 48 BC), with a popular decree in his favour that would allow him to stand in the elections in July 49 BC in absentia, while still in command of his army in Gaul and in control of his three provinces of Illyricum, Cisalpine Gaul and Transalpine Gaul.
The Optimate oligarchy seized on his victory at Alesia in 52 BC (see A View to a Death) as the end of Caesar’s campaigns and therefore the event that should trigger the dismantling of his army and his recall to Rome to face trial for crimes against the Senate and the Roman People for his conduct of an illegal war against both the Gauls and the Germans. In this they were thwarted almost reluctantly by Pompey, with whom Caesar had agreed, when his Proconsulship was extended in 55 BC, that there could be no discussion of the re-allocation of his three provinces until 1 March 50 BC. That decree, signed into law by both Pompey and the now deceased Crassus, should have guaranteed that Caesar would be immune to recall until November 49 BC. This was the stumbling block that the Optimates were determined to overcome. Unfortunately for them, they depended on Pompey for their military protection against a military coup by Caesar. They could not simply override him.
The machinations of the oligarchy to force Caesar to surrender his legions and his provinces are interwoven with the final dramatic battles fought by Caesar’s legions to subdue the last remnants of Gallic resistance during the years 51 and 50 BC. They account for Caesar’s increasing exasperation with those who were plotting his downfall, and the reasons for his final decision to mount his successful coup that began with the crossing of the Rubicon.