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.
First thing you have to keep in mind when your reading this series, it does take some creative license. Second thing to keep in mind is that while we all know about Caesar’s later life we do not know as much about his young life. Now with my official I am a history buff and generally freak out about these things warning.
This is one of the few books that end up on my keeper shelf that are fiction. The Gates of Rome is one of the best written books of Ancient Rome there is. The characters come alive and leap off the page. You can smell the dirty streets and feel the bruises that come from practicing and then further along. I love seeing the shape that Caesar begins to take as he is a young man, we can see how he is going to become the great General that he becomes.
Brutus is almost likeable in this first book. I am not much of a Brutus fan anyone who knows me knows that, but in this book he is nearly likeable. There are moments when you feel bad for him, moments when you smile at his friendship with Young Gaius and moments where you can see what is going to happen coming clear as day. Overall this book gets a thumbs up must read from me.
My Gemstone Rating: