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When Pompey orders Caesar to return to Rome without his army the general doesnt like the sound of Pompeys intentions. Instead he mobilises every legionnaire Gaul can spare to return to Rome and wage a Civil war against Pompey. The Dictator realises his army would be easily beaten by Caesars force and flees, with the senate to Greece to amass a larger force. With Rome now under his control once again Caesar prepares to travel to Greece and put an end to the power struggle once and for all. The battle for the future of Rome looms and the victor will take complete control and with Brutus switching to Pompeys side it would seem the odds are stacked against Caesar.
In the final part of Igguldens Emperor series he takes us to the last few years of Caesars life before the infamous incidents on the Ides Of March. The former teacher has really hit on a popular concept as he explores the life of Caesar and takes the reader through the famous Romans life in fiction. The majority of the book is written from a historically accurate point of view, with only small details changed or altered to suit Igguldens purpose. Its because of his attention to historical detail that makes the Emperor Series so addictive and particularly The Gods Of War.
One of the things that has really impressed me about Igguldens novels is the addictiveness of the story and the real attention to detail he seems to stick to. It makes the series come to live and you can almost imagine at times that you are somehow in the book. His use of descriptive phrases and subtle details give the book a sense of realism that creates a good mental picture. For this reason it doesnt just seem real but you find yourself identifying with the characters and hoping for certain outcomes as you read from page to page.
Like the other books in the series I found that it was incredibly difficult to put Gods Of War down. Its for this reason that I would now have no hesitation to include Iggulden on a list of favourite authors. Ive always found Rome and the Roman Empire to be incredibly interesting subjects and for the first time Ive found a series of books that really bring the time period to life. While its important to remember that these are works of fiction, its also imperative that you keep in mind that the majority of events are based on historically recorded events.
Each book in the series can be read separately but for the real effect and benefit of Emperor I think its important to start with the Gates Of Rome and work through all the books. It helps to really understand the relationships between the character and Iggulden doesnt go back into a great deal of detail about his lead characters. For this reason I feel that to really enjoy the books starting at the beginning is incredible important, especially if your looking for any major form of characterisation. One thing that Iggulden does do is introduce new characters through events rather than rigidly telling the reader about them and that helps with the fluidity of the book.
Throughout the book you find yourself identifying with certain characters and really seeing the period from the eyes of each character. Its a form of writing that I found really appealed to me as it helped me to see the reasons behind Brutuss betrayal and Caesars sudden change of attitude once he meets Cleopatra. I think that having read all 4 books now it gives you a real sense of companionship with the characters and that really added to the overall effect the novels had.
The new additions to the story like Cleopatra and Cicero are blended in nicely and all the new characters really compliment those from the previous books. Again it expands the story and opens up new avenues in Caesars life and motivations. The end of the story is particularly well known and although the book ends the same way, Iggulden puts an interesting spin, throughout the series, as to why these events took place.
Overall the final part of the Emperor series is as good as the other three books. Its the perfect conclusion to the series and really answers all the questions left from the other books. As a series Id have no hesitation in recommending these books to anyone and feel that I may even read them again at some point, which is quite a rarity for me. The books are both interesting and intriguing and will keep the reader entertained for a long time. The next topic for Iggulden is to be Genghis Khan, until then however buy the Emperor series and find out for yourself how good Igguldens masterpiece really is.
The Gods Of War is the final climatic novel in the highly acclaimed Emperor series that follows the life and times of Gaius Julius Caesar from his early childhood through to his assassination in the streets of his beloved Rome.One of the best books in the series,The Gods Of War is full of epic battles as Caesar and his Legions travel to the furthest reaches of the Roman Empire through Greece,Asia Minor and finally to Egypt before returning home.
The novel begins with Caesar being summoned back to Rome alone by Pompey following a lengthy campaign in Gaul that has taken him to Britain and back.Pompey-once an ally,now Caesar's nemesis-sees Caesar as a threat to his dictatorship and plans to have him assassinated on his journey home.Unfortunately the man Pompey chooses to do this evil deed has been with Caesar through much of his recent campaign in Gaul and has swapped alleigance with whom he now feels most loyal.Instead of coming alone,now Caesar decides to return to Rome to end Pompey's long dictatorship and restore his earlier position as Consul,bringing with him the full force of his armies.
Pompey,realising his forces in Rome are outnumbered,flees the city with the Senate and their families-taking refuge in Greece where he can summon more men to his cause.Julius wins back the city and,leaving its safety in the hands of Mark Anthony,pursues Pompey with the aim of winning back the Legions loyal to his enemy through mis-direction and propaganda rather than all out war;reluctant as he is to wage battle on forces loyal to Rome.
Set around the same time period as the recent mini-series on BBC2,Rome and covering the same events,this book has less of a soap opera feel to it than the series(though I will be the first to admit I did really enjoy this on BBC2)and is much more involving for the most part probably because you have been following Caesar for so long that you almost feel as though you are there with him by now.This final novel is full of the many strategies and battles that took place between Caesar and Pompey as friends fall-out,swap alleigances and are re-united;battles are fought,lost and won and many thousands die at the hands of Fate and the Gods;both of whom struggle to decide who shall finally govern the Roman Empire.The numerous battle scenes are very well written and involving and Iggulden even comes up with a believable explanation for why Pompey may not have finished off Caesar when he had the chance.
Of course those who know their history know exactly how it all ends but for those of us who are less academic,part of the fun is discovering revelations we have only briefly touched upon before in history class at school.This series of novels about Caesar's life are some of the finest I have ever read and has introduced me to a genre I have not really touched upon before-that of the historical novel.I really feel now as though I know more about Caesar and his life than I did and have found these books a real pleasure to devour.The characters are strong and well written,the detail hgighly researched and any facts that have been changed to assist the flow of the story are fully explained at the end of each novel in a helpful afterword by the author.
Conn Iggulden's next work apparently is going to look at Genghis Khan but he hints at this novels end that he may at some stage return to Rome to explore again the history of the Roman Empire following Caesar's death.Personally I am not sure which I am more looking forward to.A brilliant end to an epic,climatic series that fully deserves all the acclaim it has earned....I have found trhese an enjoyable,educational and inspirational read!!
If you have never read a historical novel before but like me are fascinated by the mighty Roman Empire then I fully reccommend you pick these novels up.Easy to read,not too heavy-going and full of battle,betrayal and journeys across the globe,these novels have it all.Like the hype says-"if you loved Gladiator,you'll love these" and they're right-these novels are well worth any money you spend on them!!!