"Conn Iggulden is a grand storyteller...[he keeps] adults turning pages like enthralled kids."—USA Today
"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
Ancient Rome comes alive in this first novel by British writer Conn Iggulden. This vivid historical novel traces the paths of the brothers Gaius and Marcus: one destined to be a renowned warrior, the other, a power broker in the Roman Senate. Cradled in an imperial history that most of us have largely forgotten, Emperor: The Gates of Rome delivers its epic story with freshness and unanticipated force.
If the Roman Empire had taken as long to rise and fall as this novel takes to discover a main character and a plot, most of the world would still be wearing togas today. The story, such as it is, revolves around two boys: Gaius, the broody son of a wealthy senator, and Marcus, a prostitute's mischievous child who is reared as Gaius's brother and trained with him in the arts of war. Before the two boys reach majority, they are thrust into adulthood by the untimely death of Gaius's father and take up residence in Rome with Gaius's uncle Marius, a powerful consul who is vying with Sulla for control of the Republic. When Marcus is 14, he joins the Fourth Macedonian Legion to earn his fortune; Gaius remains by his uncle's side. Iggulden lingers long over boyhood pranks, trying the reader's patience; the pace picks up only halfway through the novel. Frequent fight scenes, ranging from individual combat to full scale battles, liven the mix somewhat, but the cartoon-like ability of the characters to bounce back after a few stitches weakens the effect. Though Iggulden has a solid grounding in Roman military history, anachronisms in speech and attitude ("Cabera took him outside and gave him a hiding") roll underfoot and trip up authenticity. A major twist toward the end reveals the protagonists to be two of Roman history's best-known figures, but readers with some knowledge of the period will have guessed their identities already. This is ultimately little more than a protracted introduction to a bigger story, which Iggulden will surely go on to tell. (Dec. 31) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
English writer Iggulden's first novel is the story of two young boys-Gaius and Marcus, raised as brothers though one is illegitimate-as they grow to adulthood in Rome two millennia ago. At that time, the republic was beginning to fall apart, a collapse that would result in the civil wars that brought the emperors to power. It was a time of turmoil, chaos, revolutions, casual violence, and savage brutality, and Iggulden's descriptions of the culture and environment are vivid. Although covering a period unknown to most lay readers, Emperor is a surprisingly fast and often exciting read. Iggulden admits to taking some liberties with history, and his masking the identities of Gaius and Marcus is unnecessary and distracting. While the real identity of Marcus (Et tu, Brute?) may be a puzzle, readers with a fair knowledge of Roman history will quickly identify Gaius (think of the Ides of March). Also, the roles of historical warlords Marius and Sulla are not well clarified. Still, this entertaining historical novel will appeal to fans of Steven Pressfield and Michael Curtis Ford. For larger collections. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 9/1/02; also, look for Colleen McCullough's The October Horse: A Novel About Caesar and Cleopatra, which will be released by S. & S. in November.-Ed.]-Robert Conroy, Warren, MI Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
A debut by a British schoolteacher depicts the childhood and early career of Julius Caesar. In case you've forgotten your Suetonius, the later days of the Roman Republic were a rough time for the well connected. The fledging empire had established colonies farther and farther afield, colonies that reaped fortunes but required standing armies. The generals of these armies (who paid for the upkeep of their men out of their own pockets) all became laws unto themselves after a while; the Senate was the ultimate authority, but it was unwieldy, and rife with corruption and factions. When young Gaius, the son of a senator, was growing up, everyone expected that the Senate would soon have to appoint a Dictator-a Caesar-to reestablish order. But who? After his father is killed in a slave uprising, Gaius lives with his uncle, Marius the Consul, one of the leading contenders. Marius has just come back with his Legion from a successful campaign in Africa, but his rival Sulla has balked at allowing Marius and his troops to enter the city, lest the troops establish Marius as the Caesar. Sulla has been making a name for himself as a general and would naturally prefer that the Senate choose him. How does it end? With a civil war, naturally, in which Sulla's forces drive Marius and his army back to North Africa, then invade Greece to put down a rebellion led by Mithridates. While Sulla is away, however, Marius, having prevailed upon the Senate to declare Sulla a traitor, reenters the city in triumph. Young Gaius-now named "Julius" after his dead father-observes all the maneuverings and learns the most important lesson a Roman statesman can master: Trust no one. It becomes his motto once he is named theCaesar himself, but he makes one exception-for a childhood friend and blood-brother named Marcus Brutus. An absorbing portrait of ancient Roman life and history, well written and full of suspense-even for those who know the ending.