Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The Death of Caesar

Ever since I read my first Conn Iggulden novel, I have been hooked. I read the existing Khan Dynasty novels and waited for more as they were published. Then I started the Emperor series and read them all. Now, this latest novel (5th) about the life and times of Julius Caesar has brought me up to date.
This is one good piece of historical fiction. Julius Caesar is murdered and the perfect plan to wrest Rome from the hands of a dictator goes sour almost immediately as Mark Anthony incites the people of Rome to riot over the incident.
What happens next is the reading of Caesar's will and the resultant rise of his adopted son Octavius to heights he had only dreamed of. The first order of business is to seek revenge against the many senators who had a hand in the plot. The intrigue and suspense is palpable as legions of Roman soldiers are pitted against each other, culminating in a massive battle that finds Brutus, Caesar's oldest and dearest friend, and murderer, in a predicament. Octavius, who has the loyal following of all of Rome behind him, has changed his name to Gaius Julius Caesar and begins a long and successful career in office as Rome's leader. He was later known as Caesar Augustus and was the Roman Emperor at the time when Christ was born.
One thing I really appreciate is the final notes at the end of the book where the author explains in detail how his timelines and characters differ from actual historical fact. He tends to stay fairly true to history, and this is what makes these novels so fascinating.
I am sorry I have finished reading it for the wait will be long  before there is more Roman history coming from Conn Iggulden. Mark Anthony meets Cleopatra right at the end of the novel. She has a 7 year old child in tow, fathered by Caesar, who should be the rightful heir, but Julius' will, drawn up before the birth of the boy, does not make mention of it. Historically, I know how Caesar Augustus handled it, but it will be a cracking good novel for sure.
4 1/2 stars

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