Friday, November 19, 2010

Emperor - A Review


The Landmark sale convinced me to try the first of the Emperor series written by ex-history teacher Conn Iggulden - The Gates of Rome. A big fan of Robert Harris and his Imperium, I was especially fascinated with the struggle between Dictatorship and Republic in Ancient Rome. The more erudite of readers can probably draw parallels with modern-day politics but I just enjoyed reading about Cicero and his life as told by Tiro. The follow-up Lustrum wasn't as gripping and suffice to say, I'm not panting at the bit for his final book in the trilogy. At the same time, I liked Robert Harris's unusual depiction of that famous Roman Julius Caesar and the Emperor series seemed to paint a different yet similar picture.

So when I raced through, The Gates of Rome, I quickly bought the other 3 books in the series (at full price) and settled down to pace myself through them. Emperor takes one through the life and times of Gaius Julius Caesar - from his childhood to his exile, triumphs in Gaul, Britain and even his time in Egypt. The author's detailed description of army maneuvers are gripping and I suspect will be the mainstay of the movie (rights to which have been picked up already) but the more interesting (for me, anyway) parts of the books is the complicated relationship between Caesar and Brutus culminating in that famous phrase - Et tu, Brutus? It is an unusual and ambiguous depiction of a friendship-cum-enimity where love and hate blur together and jealousy and awe jostle for supremacy. The stark contrast tugs at our heart strings especially when one quickly re-reads the first chapter of the first book after completing the final book. No surprise that while the author plans to write a fifth book, I would be happier if the series was left as is.

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