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The Gates of Rome (Emperor Series, Book 1) [Hardcover]

Conn Iggulden
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (204 customer reviews)

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Product Description

Amazon Review

The first volume of a sequence of novels about Julius Caesar, The Gates of Rome is at its best in its scenes of gruelling training in swordplay and dirty fighting. Iggulden's Caesar is more or less fated from the start by his circumstances to be a gifted and cynical player in the great game of Roman senatorial politics--his father is an old-fashioned servant of the public good who dies in a slave revolt. Young Caesar finds himself having to hit the ground running--family alliances throw him onto the losing side in a battle for power between generals Marius and Sulla.

One reservation about Iggulden's story is that he simplifies the pushing and shoving of Rome's two most powerful men to a degree that makes Caesar's choices and loyalties too simple--this is a version of Rome in which politics is only about power and never about ideas. Caesar's friendship with his blood-brother Marcus is too redolent with historical irony--Marcus will be his assassin--and Iggulden is a little novelette-ish in his portrayal of young Caesar's affairs of the heart. This is a competent, routine account of material that deserves better than this handling of it. --Roz Kaveney

Review

‘Iggulden is in a class of his own when it comes to epic, historical fiction’ Daily Mirror

‘A brilliant story – I wish I’d written it. A novel of vivid characters, stunning action and unrelenting pace. It really is a terrific read.’
BERNARD CORNWELL

‘The descriptions of combat in the circus, slaves in revolt, skirmishes in Greece, amputations and street fighting are all convincing.’
TLS

‘A rich and compelling novel that draws the reader into an extraordinary time and the life of an extraordinary man.’
DAVID GEMMELL

Book Description

‘If you liked Gladiator, you’ll love Emperor’ THE TIMES

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Publisher

The Gates of Rome takes Caesar from childhood to his early days in Rome caught up in civil war. Sure to appeal to the many fans of Bernard Cornwell, the Alexander series by Valerio Massimo Manfredi, Steven Pressfield’s Gates of Fire and Christian Jacq’s Ramses

From the Back Cover

From the spectacle of gladiatorial combat to the intrigue of the Senate, from the foreign wars that created an empire to the political conflict that almost tore it apart, the Emperor novels tell the remarkable story of the man who would become the greatest Roman of them all.

On an estate just outside Rome in the first century BC, two boys share the hardships of a traditional education as they prepare for lives as soldiers and leaders, friends and rivals.

Yet Gaius and Marcus have barely reached manhood when their home is suddenly threatened by slave riots and they have to battle for their lives before fleeing to Rome. Forced to maker their own way in the most exciting city in the world, the young men waste no time in savouring all its temptations – and dangers.

For a titanic power struggle is about to explode. Soon citizen will fight citizen in a bloody conflict that will shake the Republic to its core. And Julius Caesar will be in the thick of the action.

About the Author

Born in London, Conn Iggulden read English at London University and worked as a teacher for seven years before becoming a full-time writer. Married with four children, he lives in Hertfordshire.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

CHAPTER ONE
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 unrecognisable 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 river bed 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 pelt 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 neighbours’ part of the woods. He should have recognised 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 neighbouring 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.

The two other boys approached with their staffs held ready. They were both strangers to Gaius. One dragged Marcus to his feet and the other, a hefty, stupid-looking boy, rammed his stick into Gaius’ stomach. He doubled up in agony, unable to speak. He could hear the boy laughing as he cramped and groaned, trying to curl into the pain.

‘There’s a branch that will do. Tie their legs together and string them up to swing. We can see who’s the best shot with javelins and stones.’

‘Your father knows my father,’ Gaius spat out, as the pain in his stomach lessened.

‘True – doesn’t like him though. My father is a proper patrician, not like yours. Your whole family could be his servants if he wanted. I’d make that mad mother of yours scrub the tiles.’

At least he was talking. The thug with the horsehair twine was intent on tying knots as Gaius’ feet, ready to hoist him into the air. What could he say to bargain? His afther had no real power in the city. His mother’s family had produced a couple of consuls – that was it. Uncle Marius was a powerful man, so his mother said.

‘We are nobilitas – my Uncle Marius is not a man to cross…’

There was a sudden high-pitched yelp as the string over the branch went tight and Marcus was swung into the air upside down.

‘Tie the end to that stump. This fish next,’ Tonius said, laughing gleefully.

Gaius noted that the two friends followed his orders without question. It would be pointless trying to appeal to one of them.

‘Let us down, you spot-covered pus-bag!’ Marcus shouted as his face darkened with the rush of blood.

Gaius groaned. Now they would be killed, he was sure.

‘You idiot, Marcus. Don’t mention his spots; you can see he must be sensitive about them.’

Suetonius raised an eyebrow and his mouth opened in astonishment. The heavy-set boy paused as he threw the twine over the same branch as Marcus.

‘Oh, you have made a mistake, little fish. Finish stringing that one up, Decius, I’m going to make him bleed a little.’

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