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Emperor: The Gates of Rome: A Novel of Julius Caesar: 1

Emperor: The Gates of Rome: A Novel of Julius Caesar: 1

Emperor: The Gates of Rome: A Novel of Julius Caesar: 1

Rarely, if ever, does a new writer dazzle us with such a vivid imagination and storytelling, flawlessly capturing the essence of a land, a people, a legend. Conn Iggulden is just such a writer, bringing to vivid life one of the most fascinating eras in human history. In a true masterpiece of historical fiction, Iggulden takes us on a breathtaking journey through ancient Rome, sweeping us into a realm of tyrants and slaves, of dark intrigues and seething passions. What emerges is both a grand ro


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2 comments on “Emperor: The Gates of Rome: A Novel of Julius Caesar: 1

  1. 146 of 173 people found the following review helpful
    2.0 out of 5 stars
    This is a difficult book to review, June 15, 2006
    Colin P. Lindsey (Manchester, NH) –

    This is an extremely difficult book to review. I try to give fair and impartial reviews, and will endeavor to do so here, but on one level this book infuriates me and that is hard to overcome. So let’s deal with that first. I read this book when it first came out several years ago because I love to read novels that cover Roman history. I remember not liking this book very much at the time and being irritated with it. Memory dims over time (especially mine!) so when I saw the fourth book in this series in the airport a few weeks ago I thought, “well, if he is on number four and it is selling well in the airport, maybe I should give the author a second chance.” So I jerked my copy of this book out again last week for a second reading. I really wish I hadn’t.

    The history in this book is so bad I almost feel that this book should have warning stickers pasted all over it. I think it is entirely misleading to call this historical fiction. There is very little even remotely historically accurate within it. I was so cranky by page two with the historical mistakes that I was scribbling in the margins annotating errors. Some will point out that the author admits to making some changes to historical fact for the sake of story-telling. That is an understatement akin to calling a nuclear detonation an “explosion”. It simply doesn’t do justice to the scale of the historical liberties taken.

    Imagine reading a fictional book about American history that tells a story about George Washington and Thomas Jefferson growing up as best friends together, as children in impoverished circumstances in New York city, who are befriended by a wandering Navajo indian with magical powers. Now imagine that this is being read by lots of children and immigrants without a grounding in basic American history. Sure, the story may be entertaining, but it is so far divorced from any actual history that it would frighten you that people might actually place some faith in this version of history. That’s exactly what you have with this book. It is so historically inaccurate it makes me shudder. The story is fair-to-middlin’ but I can’t forgive the historical license being taken and I feel the book actually does a disservice to many readers. If a great many people are reading this, and forming ideas about Roman society and history based upon this book, then they are being grossly misinformed.

    Now for the other side of the review. The story is actually mildly entertaining, or at least I can see how it would be for some. I think there may be many readers who might enjoy this novel, and the ones that come after, based upon the story-telling ability of Conn Igguldsen. The story and narrative style reminds me a lot of the adventure books I enjoyed when I was in the 9 to 12 age range, and could still comfortably read through my twenties actually. I think this actually makes a bit of sense as Mr. Igguldsen was apparently an English instructor to boys in the 9 to 12 range before writing this book. So there are elements of high adventure, youths struggling to find their place in an adult world, and a little outright magic to spice up things. As an adult now, I find a prefer an adult outlook in my stories and a grittier realism than what is found here. So will this story be to your taste? Well if you like adventure books aimed at a younger crowd it’s not too bad. If you like literature or writing aimed at adults this is just average fare at best. I’d give the overall writing and story-telling three stars, but this is one of those books where personal preferences tell and some may feel the story deserves four or more stars. Fair enough, and that’s why we do these reviews to let others know what we liked and didn’t, and more importantly why, so they can determine if this will match up to their tastes. So my verdict is three stars for writing, and negative five stars for a dangerous and totally inaccurate historical picture. Overall, I hate the book but think the writing is ok, so I’ll settle out at two stars and just say I didn’t like it. I can clearly see however where this book could be given anywhere from one to five stars depending upon who the reader is and their knowledge of Roman history.

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  2. 77 of 94 people found the following review helpful
    1.0 out of 5 stars
    Historical Fiction of the Worst Kind, January 25, 2003
    By A Customer

    The author has fictionalized the life of Julius Caesar until it is unrecognizable slop. Although sources for Julius Caesar’s early life are thin, it is no reason to alter family relationships (Aurelia, Caesar’s mother, was not a lunatic, nor a plebian, nor was she Gaius Marius’ sister) without any understanding of the naming system used by Patrician families or the relationships amongst them. Gaius Marius married Julius Caesar’s aunt, Julia, a connection which brought the family into the center of late republican political storms (and Caesar’s funeral oration for Julia remains one of his most moving pieces of oratory). Marcus Junius Brutus was hardly the son of a “party girl”, and was the heir to a huge Roman fortune. He was also of a generation younger than Caesar, since Caesar’s enemies often hissed rumors that Brutus was Caesar’s illigitmate child. Is Octavian (Augustus) going to appear out of thin air, since Caesar is an only child and does not possess the sister Julia who will be Octavian’s grandmother?

    I cannot believe that this got published, and as a history professor, it makes my skin crawl to think that someone might read this and extract some history from it. I love historical fiction, and am willing to suspend belief for some license, but this is sloppy, careless and mauls what we DO know about the families of Caesar, Gaius Marius and Sulla (not to mention Suetonius).

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