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 romantic tale of coming-of-age in the Roman Empire and a vibrant portrait of the early years of a man who would become the most powerful ruler on earth: Julius Caesar. On the lush Italian peninsula, a new empire is taking shape. At its heart is the city of Rome, a place of glory and decadence, beauty and bloodshed. Against this vivid backdrop, two boys are growing to manhood, dreaming of battles, fame, and glory in service of the mightiest empire the world has ever known. One is the son of a senator, a boy of privilege and ambition to whom much has been given and from whom much is expected. The other is a bastard child, a boy of strength and cunning, whose love for his adoptive family-and his adoptive brother-will be the most powerful force in his life. As young Gaius and Marcus are trained in the art of combat-under the tutelage of one of Rome's most fearsome gladiators-Rome itself is being rocked by the art of treachery and ambition, caught in a tug-of-war as two rival generals, Marius and Sulla, push the empire toward civil war. For Marcus, a bloody campaign in Greece will become a young soldier's proving ground. For Gaius, the equally deadly infighting of the Roman Senate will be the battlefield where he hones his courage and skill. And for both, the love of an extraordinary slave girl will be an honor each will covet but only one will win. The two friends are forced to walk different paths, and by the time they meet again everything will have changed. Both will have known love, loss, and violence. And the land where they were once innocent will be thrust into the grip of bitter conflict-a conflict that will set Roman against Roman...and put their friendship to the ultimate test. Brilliantly interweaving history and adventure, Conn Iggulden conjures a stunning array of contrasts-from the bloody stench of a battlefield to the opulence of the greatest city in history, from the tenderness of a lover to the treachery of an assassin. Superbly rendered, grippingly told, Emperor, The Gates of Rome is a work of vaulting imagination from a powerful new voice in historical fiction. From the Hardcover edition.
Right now, ancient Rome is all the craze, and this book should fit in well. The son of a senator and his bastard brother are raised together but find themselves increasingly at odds as the empire spirals toward civil war. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
Showing 1-3 of the 3 most recent reviews
1 . Best history leson I ever had
Posted February 17, 2010 by Tanyalyn , clarksville tnWonderful read I couldnt put it down , the characters were so alive and so was the history.
2 . Loved this whole series
Posted January 14, 2010 by Fergie , Edmonton, AlbertaI enjoy historical fiction, especially Roman, but this is far and away the best and most readable out there.
3 . Emperor is a history lesson with all the gore still intacted
Posted June 23, 2009 by APJ , El PasoEmperor, a book that follows the life the Gaius Julius Caesar is what i would like to call a perfect picture of Rome that shows every bit of the violence, misery, and love that even the average roman citizen goes through and even adore. Violence because of the very nature of a roman, misery when the hero finally rides in to same them, and love because, like any other person love is the one thing that can keep someone going through any storm. The story is one of the politics that took place during Caesar's childhood, pointing at every flaw the republic system, some so major, some senators even think that there is a where to legally have rome bow to them.
One of the things that i appreciate the most about this book is that at the end of the book Conn Iggulden points out everything that was a fib or distortion of facts and corrects them, even giving suggested readings for people who would like to know more about Caesar. When it comes to historical fiction no matter what Iggulden writes about, even though you do not know me you may in fact see me at the stores the very day it comes out
The Sun City
December 31, 2002
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Excerpt from Emperor: The Gates of Rome by Conn Iggulden
The track in the woods was a wide causeway to the two boys strolling down it. Both were so dirty with thick, black mud as to be almost unrecognizable as human. The taller of the two had blue eyes that seemed unnaturally bright against the cracking, itching mud that plastered him.
"We're going to be killed for this, Marcus," he said, grinning. In his hand, a sling spun lazily, held taut with the weight of a smooth river pebble.
"Your fault, Gaius, for pushing me in. I told you the riverbed wasn't dry all the way."
As he spoke, the shorter boy laughed and shoved his friend into the bushes that lined the path. He whooped and ran as Gaius scrambled out and set off in pursuit, sling whirring in a disc.
"Battle!" he shouted in his high, unbroken voice.
The beating they would get at home for ruining their tunics was far away, and both boys knew every trick to get out of trouble -- all that mattered was charging through the woodland paths at high speed, scaring birds. Both boys were barefoot, already with calluses developing, despite not having seen more than eight summers.
"This time, I'll catch him," Gaius panted to himself as he ran. It was a mystery to him how Marcus, who had the same number of legs and arms, could yet somehow make them move faster than he could. In fact, as he was shorter, his stride should have been a little less, surely--
The leaves whipped by him, stinging his bare arms. He could hear Marcus taunting him up ahead, close. Gaius showed his teeth as his lungs began to hurt.
Without warning, he broke into a clearing at full tilt and skidded to a sudden, shocked stop. Marcus was lying on the ground, trying to sit up and holding his head in his right hand. Three men -- no, older boys -- were standing there, carrying walking staffs.
Gaius groaned as he took in his surroundings. The chase had carried the two boys off his father's small estate and into their neighbors' part of the woods. He should have recognized the track that marked the boundary, but he'd been too caught up in catching Marcus for once.
"What do we have here? A couple of little mudfish, crawled up out of the river!"
It was Suetonius who spoke, the eldest son of the neighboring estate. He was fourteen and killing time before he went into the army. He had the sort of trained muscles the two younger boys hadn't begun to develop. He had a mop of blond hair over a face speckled with white-headed eruptions that covered his cheeks and forehead, with a sprinkling of angry-looking red ones disappearing under his praetexta tunic. He also had a long, straight stick, friends to impress, and an afternoon to while away.
Gaius was frightened, knowing he was out of his depth. He and Marcus were trespassing -- the best they could expect was a few blows, the worst was a beating with broken bones. He glanced at Marcus and saw him try to stagger to his feet. He'd obviously been belted with something as he ran into the older boys.
"Let us go, Tonius, we're expected back."
"Speaking mudfish! We'll make our fortune, boys! Grab hold of them, I have a roll of twine for tying up pigs that will do just as well for mudfish."
Gaius didn't consider running, with Marcus unable to get away. This wasn't a game -- the cruelty of the boys could be managed if they were treated carefully, talked to like scorpions, ready to strike without warning.