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Emperor: The Death of Kings - Conn Iggulden

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Author: Conn Iggulden / Genre: Fiction

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    5 Reviews
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      24.03.2011 10:05

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      Brilliant read

      I love my ancient history and so was very excited when I saw this book. From reading the first page it became immediately obvious that this was going to be an easy read and very entertaining. I will try not to give any of the story away it does follow some of the history known but is more about the relationships and lifestyles of the people of that time.
      From reading non fiction history books about Rome it was refreshing change to read something a little more light hearted and easy going and to also really get into the feelings and emotions of the persons at the time.
      The language of this novel makes it very easy to read and means you are not stuck on pages for ages tryin to work out what is going on or what has happened.
      The flow of words is good and before I knew it I was half was through the book! If you are looking for some light hearted history reads and are interested in the Roman times then this is definately for you. If you like your reads to be accurate history then maybe this is not for you. It certainly is not a history book and I would not necessarily go on any of the small events as true to what actually happened but it does give you an idea of what could have happened.
      The Author has done really well with this book and I am now looking to source his other books to read.

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      09.06.2010 11:14

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      focussing on julius caears as a young man and his determination and hard work to create a stronge ro

      After enjoying the first book so much it would not have been right to not find out what happened to caesar, someone i felt i knew so much about after gates of rome. This book focusses on caesar as a younge man. The book begins where he has been captured my pirates and demonstrates what a powerful, presuasive younge soldier he was as in his ill state he comes agains the pirates and goes onto build his own army of men growing in force and becoming more and more powerful. Ceasar seemed to be very influencal even from that younge age, in making rome the great city it was, I felt as though i was living those times and could feel his love and dedication to his city. I enjoyed this book as much as the first one and will now begin reading the third book which again i am sure i will enjoy as much. Conn iggulden really has written a masterpiece in this series.

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      07.01.2010 18:07
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      Rollicking good adventure

      Death of kings is the second volume of Conn Iguldens Emperor series. It is, as noted before, a work of fiction about historical characters, and not intended to be historically accurate, although the details of everyday Roman life, and the details of the numerous battles do seem to be historically correct.

      Death of Kings charts Caesars rise to success, in the manner that the previous volume charted his formative years. Being the sort that thrives on adversity, Ceasars fortunes really change when he and the crew of his ship are captured by pirates. Rather surprisingly Ceasar does not escape, but is released when his family pay the ransom for him. He then embarks on a traditional "Quest for revenge" and rather than returning to Rome, seeks to track down the pirates, take their ship, recover the ransom and execute his former captors.

      This might be enough for most heroes and the end of most stories but fact is stranger than fiction, and Caesar's plans to lead his growing group of men back to Rome and interrupted as he forced to stop and help put down a Greek rebellion.

      Returning at last to Rome, Caesar gets stuck into politics, restoring his family's fortune and pride, and generally making a name for himself. Plenty of interesting politicking here along with plenty of other big names of the age, most notably Caesar's ultimate rival, Pompey.

      The final challenge for this volume is to put down the slave rebellion. Lost of military action and visceral combat here for those that enjoy such things. It also contains one of what I felt was the more disappointing scenes in the book, Caesar meets Spartacus. Oh dear. Why? Roman history is already quite rich and interesting, there's no need to put in something like this. I know that most of the book is made up, that's not the issue. The problem is that the meeting just felt so contrived, and ultimately without consequence. It felt as though it was there for the sake of being there. A shame to do that when the rest of the book feels so authentic.

      All in all then, a rags to riches adventure story with a lot of authentic historical flavour, very readable and even though we all know how it ends, you'll want to finish the series.

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      21.02.2007 11:29
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      A fun read in the mould of Bernard Cornwell

      There are two ways of looking at historic fiction and depending on which way you favour judges the books that you will enjoy the most. Those that are keen students of history may enjoy an in depth and accurate portrayal of the highs and lows of our illustrious ancestors. However, this may prove to be somewhat dry and create a 700 page book that is little more than academic text. Others will prefer their authors to take artistic license adding characters or situations that there is no real proof actually happened. This may add to the flow of the story, but is it actually morally correct? ‘Death of Kings’ highlights this debate as it is part of a series that retells the life of Julius Caesar’s rise and fall. As you can tell by my score, I care more for enjoyment than historic accuracy!

      ‘Death of Kings’ is book 2 of Conn Iggulden’s ‘Imperial’ books and opens with Caesar being part of a ship’s crew that is searching the shore for pirates. Caesar has had to flee Rome to avoid persecution from the new leader Sulla who is an enemy of his family. The ship is soon captured by pirates and Caesar and a few other officers are captured and held hostage for months. This experience leaves Caesar with an illness that will haunt him for the rest of his life, but also with a determination to become a success. Newly freed Caesar sets out to get revenge on the pirates who almost killed him, but also determined to return to Rome as a hero. With the likes of Caesar, Pompeii, Brutus and Spartacus, this book has events that inspire and became the foundation blocks to Caesars rise to dictator of Rome.

      Iggulden has managed with ‘DoKs’ to create a book that is easily accessible to any person, no matter their knowledge of the people involved or the period. His writing style is in a very similar vain to Bernard Cornwell, with great descriptions of the environments and the battles in particular. The book feels like an adventure romp more than pure history. This style may alienate some as there are plenty of historical inaccuracy’s that the author admits to in his historical overview at the end of the book. However, for someone like myself who does know a little about the Roman world I thought it was a great introduction for those who would want to study further – but for everyone else it was just a fun read.

      The elements of the novel that stand out are the character development, the fighting and the story. The likes of Caesar, Pompeii and Brutus are all written as real people, with real ambitions. To rise to power in Rome would be almost inconceivable without bloodshed so Iggulden has written Caesar as a man who believes in the great idea of Rome and will do anything to weed out the fear and corruption that has worked its way into the core of their society. Caesar is a man who is loved by his men, but is unforgiving if he is wronged. With such an interesting dark side Caesar is an intriguing character to follow.

      The likes of Spartacus, Pompeii and Brutus are also given some depth so that they read like people who could be alive today. They all live their lives in shades of grey hoping to be good, but also hoping for power. Alongside these historic figures Iggulden populates the book with other people that help develop the story from aging healers to ex-gladiators. By not concentrating on just the famous people of the period Iggulden has managed to create a full world for Caesar that is easy for the reader to identify with.

      The great character development would be useless without a decent story to back them up. The overall arch of ‘Death of Kings’ covers several years in Caesar’s life and is full of fantastic twists and turns. The parts that stood out to me most were the battle scenes as Iggulden describes them in a vivid and exciting way. The style of writing throughout is top notch for those that like easily accessible books. For some the style may be a bit too dumb down, but for me it was great as I just want to enjoy the book and not have to worry about my knowledge of language or Roman history.

      Even though this book is a great adventure that has superb writing and characters throughout there are a couple of small issues. Firstly, Iggulden is a bit eager to skip large chunks of Caesar’s life if it suits his story. I do not mind this as it increases the speed of the story to its great pace, but I did feel confused a couple of times when the next chapter started with something at a much later date. The other factor I could criticise is due to the importance of reading these books in order. I read ‘DoKs’ first even though it was the 2nd book in the series. It works fine as a standalone novel but does refer back to the previous story so much that I am not sure if it is even worth going back to as I feel I know what happens all ready. However, for those that read the series in order, this should not prove an issue.

      Even with a couple of minor blips there is nothing that stops me from saying that this book was one of the most enjoyable slices of historic fiction that I have ever read. With Bernard Cornwell finally coming off his run of fantastic books it is great for me to know that there is someone else out there that can compete with him at his best. The story is not historically accurate and is not the most difficult to read, but for action, character and informative history – this book has it all.


      Sammy Recommendation

      Author: Conn Iggulden
      Price: amazon uk - £3.99
      play.com - £5.49

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      16.01.2006 08:16
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      The Second part in the Emperor Series and it's getting more addictive

      Having fled Rome and joined a Roman Galley, Gaius Julius Caesar has been involved in a couple of battles to reclaim Roman ports. He even gained an honour wreath for bravery in battle but now their ship has been attacked by pirates and Julius and a few of the officers taken captive. Meanwhile in Greece Marcus Brutus is returning home to set up a legion and wait for his friend Caesar to return for the two of them to lead. There are rebellions breaking out all over and the senate have to do something about them. With Mithridates having risen again in Greece and Spartacus leading a rebellion in the North these are times of change in Rome as they look for a new leader.

      This is the second of former England teacher Conn Iggulden’s Emperor series following the events of Julius Caesar’s life. The series isn’t completely factual and Iggulden has based the plot around real events, but adapted them to create a decent story. His first novel, The Gates Of Rome, was a compelling read and from the first page The Death Of Kings adopted a very similar structure. With a number of the events within the story being based on real events it also helps to serve partly as a history lesson but it is important to remember that not everything in these books is as it happened.

      When I finished reading his first novel I decided that rather than read something different I would move straight onto the second to keep events fresh in my mind. I’ve never really been into Historical Fiction and as I went to start this second book I thought it might lose the appeal being read so quickly after the first. Instead the story and the characters I had read about in the first instalment held my interest and if anything I was more immersed in this follow up than in the first one. This is certainly an addictive series and Iggulden seems to be an amazing story teller.

      His writing style helps to keep the story flowing and that in turn makes the 658 pages flow by effortlessly. In each chapter he focuses on certain events and tries to keep coinciding events happening within the same chapter. He also likes to create a bit of suspense in the plot and starts a story of events, which the reader won’t witness but instead experiences it from the person who discovers these events. The chapter set up is quite similar in structure to the first book and Iggulden tries to keep a rigorous pace by using quite punchy chapters of around 20 pages.

      Throughout the story he gives enough detail to set the scene and give the reader a mental picture of his settings. I’ve always thought that too much detail can kill a story but he seems to get it just right and leaves enough to the imagination. The fight sequences aren’t too graphic but he uses the right sort of descriptions to make the book accessible to an audience both young and old. It seems to be a feature of all parts of his writing as he keeps the detail of intimate encounters as well as battle scenes to their simplest and leaves a lot of it to the reader’s imagination, which helped me to get really caught up in the book.

      It seems that Iggulden learned something from his first novel as well. I felt that his first effort ended too openly and despite knowing there was another on the way it left too many questions to be answered. This time however there is a definitive end and although there is a third book in the series he ends this one with a lot less open ends. There are still questions to be answered but it allows this book to stand a lot better on its own than the previous one.

      He carries on the reader’s fascination with his characters as Caesar becomes a lot more ruthless throughout the story but you can feel yourself really routing for him as you read. Iggulden seems to have taken some of the fascination with Caesar and really brought it to live in his books making it compulsory to read on. Similarly a number of characters return from the first book and a similar fascination develops with each of them. While the characters of Renius and Cabera take more of a back seat role they are still as important to the story as ever.

      I felt that there were a couple of weaker characters involved in this story and the main one of those was certainly Suetonius. I’m still unsure as to whether this has something to do with the hatred Julius has for him or the events of the first book but he seems quite a weak character and one you really don’t care whether he lives or dies. A similar case can be made of Sulla’s general who plays quite a big part in the plot but doesn’t particularly stand out in the story.

      Overall this is a decent story and perhaps a much better novel than his first. He has learned from the first novel and taken those experiences into making this a better book. The series certainly has legs and Iggulden’s way of concentrating on a few years at a time mean it will be a long series and ultimately if all the books are as good as this one it certainly will be a best selling series for the author. This addition to the series doesn’t stand alone and it would be much more beneficial to the reader to start at the beginning to get to know the characters better. I personally really enjoyed these books and wouldn’t hesitate them to anyone. If you have any interest in Caesar or the events of Rome, or perhaps you just enjoy historical fiction then you’ll love this.

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    • Product Details

      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 serving on board a war galley in the dangerous waters of the Mediterranean and rapidly gaining a fearsome reputation. But no sooner has he had a memorable victory than his ship is captured by pirates and he is held to ransom. Abandoned on the north African coast after hard months of captivity, he begins to gather a group of recruits that he will eventually forge into a unit powerful enough to gain vengeance on his captors and to suppress a new uprising in Greece. Returning to Rome as a hero -- and as an increasingly dangerous problem for his enemies -- Caesar is reunited with his boyhood companion Brutus. But soon the friends are called upon to fight as they have never fought before, when a new crisis threatens to overwhelm the city -- in the form of a rebellious gladiator named Spartacus.