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The second volume in the acclaimed Emperor series, in which Conn Iggulden brilliantly interweaves history and adventure to recreate the astonishing life of Julius Caesar — an epic tale of ambition and rivalry, bravery and betrayal, from an outstanding new voice in historical fiction. The young Caesar must overcome enemies on land and at sea to become a battle-hardened leader — in the spectacular new novel from the bestselling author of The Gates of Rome. Forced to flee Rome, Julius Caesar is s


The Emperor's Revenge (ExLib) by Clive Cussler; Boyd Morrison

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3 comments on “Emperor

  1. 44 of 50 people found the following review helpful
    3.0 out of 5 stars
    Not quite what it could be…., March 2, 2004
    ilmk “ilmk” (UK) –

    After reading the first one I stated that I thought the series would get better and better.
    Unfortunately not., but it’s no worse than the first.
    Any complaints about historical mangling in the first novel will only be increased on reading this one and I suspect it’ll either get great reviews or bad reviews depending on your need for historical accuracy.
    Iggulden’s second novel `Emperor: The Death of Kings’ opens with the young tessarius Gaius Julius Caesar part of a naval party storming the fortress town of Mytilene to rescue governor Paulus. The chapter serves, as does much of the previous novel and this one, to demonstrate the episodic nature of Caesar’s rise through the ranks as he overcomes physical obstacles and personally rescues the governor.
    As with the preceding novel anyone with any knowledge of the period and the characters will swiftly realise the gaping historical inaccuracies, fundamental character reversals and disappearances of other key people (Marcus Tullius Cicero the most blatant) continue in this volume. This is neatly demonstrated by Sulla’s death at the hands of Tubruk’s ice sorbet.
    Still….we move swiftly on to the episode with the pirates, a clout to the head being the given cause of Caesar’s future epilepsy and follow Marcus Brutus as he returns a centurion and promptly cuts a swathe through the female nobility of Rome with more alacrity after meeting with his mother Servilia who is a high class courtesan. From there we focus on Julius’ destruction of Mithridates, his retention of his home in the law courts, his continuing enmity with Suetonius and now the portly Cato and the hiccup with Brutus over the recreation and command of Marius’ Primigenia legion (which never existed). Once all this has settled down Julius lopes off with his wolves to take on Spartacus which he does by holding the left flank after Lepidus dies mid-battle. Eventually, both Pompey and Caesar get to avenge themselves on Cato after members of their families are murdered by Cato’s command.
    By the end this is a good historical fantasy (in fact it’s almost an alternative history) best evidenced by the running title of the quartet as Caesar was never an Emperor (in fact it was his suggested kingly ambition that got him assassinated) but historical accuracy is not fundamental to Iggulden’s story. An excellent example of this is when by page 190 or so of the hardback version we find the future true first emperor of Rome, Augustus, (who’s not Caesar’s great nephew but cousin in this interpretation) as a thieving street urchin with his impoverished mother, stealing butcher chops and getting involved in fights before being carted off to Uncle Julius for some horseriding training. Reality is entirely suspended.
    So, for its merits as a historical fantasy Iggulden provides a sequel that is faced-paced, easily readable and exciting, providing action, love, politics, war and peace against a tumultuous backdrop of change.
    The key to dissatisfaction, however, is that the lack of historicity leaves a slightly sour taste and the characters are two-dimensional which leaves this reader feeling no justice is being done to these historical greats.
    I confess the historical purist in me makes me undecided as to whether I will read the third installment but there is no denying it is an exciting, easy read. If writing a flowing historical fantasy plucking some names from Roman history was Iggulden’s aim, then he gets 4 stars. If it is intended as historical fiction based on reality it would get one star.
    Whatever your thoughts on it, one thing is clear – this needs considerable improvement if it aspires to the dizzy heights of McCullough or Saylor or Davis…

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  2. 15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
    4.0 out of 5 stars
    Ahistorical Historical Fiction . . . but a Fun Read, April 8, 2005
    Scott Schiefelbein (Portland, Oregon United States) –

    I was not a huge fan of Conn Iggulden’s, “The Gates of Rome,” his first novel in his planned four-volume “Emperor” series, in which he fictionalizes the life and times of Julius Caesar. He took enormous historical liberties with his tale, and his conceit of keeping the identities of his protagonists (Julius Caesar and his friend-turned-assassin Brutus) secret didn’t really work.

    Iggulden’s second novel in the “Emperor” series, “The Death of Kings,” is a much more enjoyable read. Caesar and Brutus are now young men soldiering for Rome, and Iggulden has a knack for writing battle scenes and depicting the soldier’s life. Not as poetic as Steven Pressfield, nor quite as violent as Bernard Cornwell, Iggulden is nevertheless capable of spinning a riveting tale. From his opening scene of a night raid on a rebellious Greek city to the climactic battle against Spartacus, Iggulden throws the reader pell-mell into the chaos of battle.

    Iggulden also has a command of the realities of daily life in the Roman world. It’s refreshing to see history’s great figures dealing with the frustrations and agonies of the real world just as we all do — from pulled muscles to tormenting flies to the pangs of a romance that isn’t working. All too often, authors make their protagonists super-human, and Iggulden enjoyably refuses to play this game. Further, without going overboard on the historical details, Iggulden reminds the reader that we are reading about a world centuries gone, but it was nevertheless a civilized world with its own craft and technology.

    The novel also gains as Iggulden reduces the elements of mysticism from the first novel. In Book One, Iggulden introduced the entirely fictional (at least as far as I know) healer/mystic Cabera, and his magical powers were out-of-place in Caesar’s story. While Cabera is back for Book 2, he generally seems to be more of a man of wisdom and learning than of magic, and that generally helps the novel.

    You cannot read Iggulden’s works as a fictionalized-yet-historically-accurate account of Caesar’s life. Sure, some of the major points are there, such as Caesar’s capture by and eventual destruction of the pirates (one of the most enjoyable sections of the book). But, as Iggulden acknowledges in his author’s note, he made several major departures from the historical record. Sulla was not murdered by Caesar’s friend, Caesar did not slay Mithridates, and there is no evidence that Caesar ever met Spartacus. But these deviations are not a weakness — Iggulden is trying to tell a rollicking story of the ancient world, and for the most part he succeeds, and succeeds very well.

    Not as epic as Colleen McCullouch’s “Masters of Rome” series, Iggulden’s “Emperor” series is nevertheless shaping up as a thrilling, enjoyable spin through the fall of the Roman Republic and the rise of one of history’s titanic figures. Here’s looking forward to book 3!

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  3. 5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
    3.0 out of 5 stars
    What’s real and what isn’t?, January 19, 2005
    Bookbrowser “Bookbrowser” (Portland, OR USA) –

    Mr. Iggulden has the ability to craft a nicely-told story in such an action-packed way that I’m surprised he is a novelist and not a screen-play writer. With so much rich history and so many fascinating personages during the fall of the Republic and the rise of the Empire, does one really need to make things up to be a good read? I don’t think.

    Brutus was NEVER a centurion, for goodness sakes! Aristocracy filled the officer ranks, not the non-coms. Centurion ranking would have been an insult, if not an utter impossibility. The ultimate example ‘non-reality’ is the fabrication regarding the poisoning death of Sulla . . . a glaring historic inaccuracy. After reading that, the book just became another alternative history novel.

    And yes, the pirates were crucified, every last one of them. Mr. Iggulden apparently believes that his readers don’t have the stomach for that, or he is trying to paint a portrait of Caesar as if he had the moral sensibilities of today. Nothing could be further from the truth . . . just like this novel.

    If you want to read a gripping accounting of Caesar’s capture, captivity, escape, and eventual revenge upon the pirates, I would suggest reading `Cutter’s Island’ by Vincent Panella. It is told in the first person, from Caesar’s perspective, and is a vastly superior account of this event in the young Caesar’s life.

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