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Emperor

Emperor

Emperor

Julius Caesar must walk a dangerous path if he is to survive the dying days of the Republic. Everything and everyone he loves will be tested in fire. The Field of Swords begins as Caesar completes his inner circle, the men who will be his generals. When the opportunity comes to stand as Consul, he returns to a city where plots and conspiracies threaten the stability of everything he values. Together, Pompey, Crassus and Caesar form the uneasy alliance that is the first Triumvirate. For Julius C

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3 comments on “Emperor

  1. 36 of 48 people found the following review helpful
    3.0 out of 5 stars
    A gripping tale but historically poor, March 1, 2005
    By 
    ilmk “ilmk” (UK) –

    Knowing full well that Igguldens’ retelling of Gaius Julius Caesar’s life owes very little to actual historical fact and much to pure fantasy I set about this third installment curious to know precisely what period had gone through the mangle this time and what the result would be. Apart from the wincing at the total exclusion of Marcus Tullius Cicero’s finest hour in 63BC in stopping the Catiline Conspiracy (Julius gets the credit here and it’s brought forward 4 years as well – never mind), the blatant chronological reversal of Clodius’ death in 52 and the invasion of Britain in 55/54, and the casual use of Cabera to act as the soothsayer for the infamous Ides of March quote nearly a decade ahead of reality… I was cautiously optimistic by page 200 or so.

    The third in Iggulden’s Emperor series opens with our young praetor with his Tenth legion in Spain with Brutus and his extraordinarii cavalry. Dark, moody and brooding the mix is swiftly stirred as Brutus’ courtesan mother, Servilia, turns up with three girls to make a handsome profit and catch Julius’ eye. From there he swiftly returns to the political mire of Rome, coming up against both Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus and Marcus Licinius Crassus as he seeks to establish himself in Rome and take his first consulship. Much of this is given over in two very lengthy episodes – the first his quelling of the Crassus backed Catiline conspiracy, the second over a gladiator contest for Marcus Brutus to be First Sword in Rome. Once this has been achieved Caesar hotfoots it to Gaul with his comrades in tow wearing silver armour to start conquering the land. Battles against the Averni, a quick trip to Britain and back and the infamous siege of Alesia are all dealt with in a thrilling loose style with an interim trip back to Rome by Brutus to get involved with Caesar’s daughter, Julia, and quell the infamous street gangs of Milo and Clodius whilst Julius’ relationship with Servilia is explored.

    I confess I find my reaction to Iggulden is to sigh deeply. The historical purist in me reads on in horrified fascination as to what’s going to happen next in this historical alternative history, but it is somewhat compelling. I know many reviewers will say that historical accuracy is not what Iggulden’s about but it’s taken too far. You can get away with the odd explained change for dramatic purposes but it’s so wrong it really does detract from what could be so good.

    History aside I find this the weakest of the three as it is somewhat directionless and the chacterisation fill between major episodes is creating more of a sense of gallivanting adventurers rather than mature personages. Plot and characterisation is all too wooden and I find myself disliking Julius more and more. If it wasn’t for the exceptionally brief reference to Caesar’s lamentation that he is older than Alexander was when he conquered the world right at the start (and you knew little of Caesar’s history) you’d have to ask what his motive for any of his actions was in this novel.

    What saves the entire series is that Iggulden CAN tell a story.

    So utterly compelling, but, unfortunately, for all the wrong reasons. Another one is due and I have to complete the series but I know the same complaints will probably be there after the next one.

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  2. 6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
    4.0 out of 5 stars
    “Field of Swords” — Fun Ahistorical Historical Fiction, April 21, 2005
    By 
    Scott Schiefelbein (Portland, Oregon United States) –
    (VINE VOICE)
      
    (REAL NAME)
      

    Conn Iggulden’s “The Field of Swords” continues his “Emperor” series, to borrow a phrase, it’s like the first two books, only more so.

    From his first book in the series, Iggulden has demonstrated a willingness to depart from the historical record. When it comes to Julius Caesar, that’s playing with fire, if for no other reason than that Caesar’s life is astounding enough on its own that it leaves little room for editorializing. However, we must respect Iggulden is writing fiction, not another biography of the historical giant (and to Iggulden’s credit, he repeatedly recommends Christian Meier’s masterful biography, Caesar, for folks who want the straight story).

    By making some rather harsh choices (for example, Cicero merits barely a mention in Iggulden’s novels), Iggulden has offended many readers, to be sure. For readers familiar with the historical period, it is harder to suspend our disbelief when reading about certain events when we know that they just did not transpire in the manner described. I imagine that the less familiar one is with the subject, the more entertaining the series is.

    Fortunately for all concerned, even Roman history buffs, Iggulden is a fine writer and creates many memorable scenes in “Field of Swords.” Several battle scenes quicken the pulse, but Iggulden also writes excellent scenes around more domestic fare, such as a bunch of humbled Roman blacksmiths learning the intricate art of Spanish swordmaking.

    And the broad strokes are all here to create a fine theater for our favorite characters. Caesar rides from Spain to Gaul to Britain and eventually comes to a crisis point at the Rubicon. Crassus builds his astounding fortune but chafes under his less-than-stellar military reputation. Pompey rules Rome with an iron fist and yet fears this upstart running rampant on the frontier. Servilia’s love for Caesar burns white-hot. Brutus continues his quest to be the perfect sword, yet cracks form in his friendship with Caesar. (And there are many other storylines of note.) Not all the characters make it through to the end, and we generally are sad to see them go – a testament to Iggulden’s ability to spin an entertaining tale.

    Again, for readers looking for a highly factual fictionalized account of Julius Caesar, look to Colleen McCullouch’s titanic “Masters of Rome” series. (Her research is impeccable, and she includes a glossry and highly detailed maps — for some bizarre reason, Iggulden’s novels do not include a single map, which is a bizarre omission.) But for fans of a leaner, lighter, more action-packed treatment, Iggulden’s series will do just fine, thank you very much.

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  3. 5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
    2.0 out of 5 stars
    Glaring historical inaccuracies, August 4, 2009
    By 
    Marilyn Harris “book lover” (Decatur, Ga) –
    (REAL NAME)
      

    Although this book and the others in the series are supposedly historical novels, an author cannot play fast and loose with history. The author makes Caesar’s mother mentally unstable as well as epileptic. He makes Brutus an orphan on the estate–except for the mother who abandoned him because she’s a prostitute. Caesar gets to kill Mithradites–although Pompey really did. He has Marius killed by Pompey in a barricaded Rome! How could you believe any insight that Iggulden has into Caesar’s character when he recreates historical fact?

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