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. (Mar. 9) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Iggulden's first novel, Emperor: The Gates of Rome, dealt with the lives of Julius Caesar and Brutus as boys and then as young men. This new book, the second in a four-part cycle detailing the intertwined lives of these two men, begins with Caesar's capture by pirates and concludes with the suppression of Spartacus' slave rebellion. The story traces the rise of Caesar and Brutus from their lowly status as junior officers to positions of command and power in a Rome that was hard and cruel. It also shows the beginnings of Brutus' jealousy as the friends become rivals. Iggulden admits to tweaking the facts, which means this novel is more an adventure about a man named Caesar than true historical fiction. Still, it is broadly accurate as well as often exciting and fascinating. Unfortunately, the story tends to digress into irrelevant subplots, and far too many pages are devoted to the admittedly fictional childhood of Octavian, the future Emperor Augustus. Recommended for larger collections. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 11/1/03.]-Robert Conroy, Warren, MI Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Iggulden returns with the second in a four-part fictionalized biography of Julius Caesar, this time following his subject from early victory at Mytilene to his formation of the First Triumvirate. Although technically a sequel to Emperor: The Gates of Rome (2002), this installment actually concentrates on the earlier period of Caesar's career, beginning with his service as a young officer in the Legion during the troubled last days of the Roman Republic. Militarily overextended and politically divided, Rome in the first century b.c. suffered an interminable succession of rebellions in the provinces and intrigues in the Senate. But bad times will always provide opportunities for statesmen, and out of this chaos Caesar found his first fame at the Battle of Mytilene, where he was decorated for quelling a revolt and saving the life of the Roman governor. Kidnapped by pirates not long after, he displayed the cool head for which he later became renowned, indignantly demanding that his captors ask for a higher ransom and calmly promising to crucify them all once he was freed (which he did). Back home, things were just as bad: Sulla, the Dictator of Rome, had just been poisoned (in retaliation, as it happened, for raping Caesar's wife) and the Senate had become a free-for-all of plots and chicanery. Standing to the fore was Pompey, an able general who had won fame in crushing the slave's revolt led by Spartacus but who was hampered by his lack of ready funds and by the opposition of prominent patricians. Called to the East to put down the rebellion of Mithridates (which he did with dispatch), Pompey returned to the city in triumph, making common cause with Caesar (whose noble lineage gave hiscause legitimacy) and Crassus (whose vast fortune bankrolled them). The rest, of course is-well . . . history. An admirable job: Iggulden hews closely to the real events while enlivening them with an inside perspective. Keep an eye on Brutus! Agent: Kathleen Anderson/Anderson Grinberg
"Delightfully entertaining...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."—Booklist
"If you liked 'Gladiator', you'll love Emperor: The Death of Kings."—The Times, London
"What a find. A first-time author who writes—wonderfully! Emperor: The Death of Kings combines the fantasy of Harry Potter with the historical details of John Jakes. Books don't get better than this."—Costa Rica Times
"Iggulden excels at describing battle scenes both small-scale and epic."—Seattle Times
“Iggulden is a grand storyteller.” —USA Today