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4.2 out of 5 stars276
4.2 out of 5 stars
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on 4 November 2003
I have always been a keen reader of historically "based" books and my only slight disappointment is that this book does not so much rely historical fact as "bend" it to fit in with the book's story. But the author - even at his ending historical note - never pretends that this is the "definitive" narrative of one of history's most famous figures .
Never the less, this was a very enjoyable adventure which follows the growing up of two young Roman boys living on the outskirts of a turbulent Rome....from their early lives up until they go their separate ways, one into the political intrigue of the Roman Senate and the other to fight in one of Rome's far flung legions. It would be a good read for anyone who has enjoyed Cornwell's novels, and even for those interested in fantasy and / or non fictional works. The mixes humour with tradgedy, affection with war, and there is enough adventure in there to keep the reader flying through the book.
If you are a person who enjoys a little escapism in their novels, and wants a good book with Sharpesque swash and buckle, then buy this book. If you are looking for pure fact then buy something from the non fiction section. I didn't watch Gladiator for it's historical content and I didn't buy this book for that either!!
And by the way, my whole reading experience was slightly tarnished by one Amazon "reviewer" who decided to give away all the details of the two main characters in the book in his review. This definitely takes the "kick" out of the ending. Please try not to do this!! there are readers out there who want to read the book prior to knowing all the plot twists!!!
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on 23 February 2014
I like my historical fiction to flesh out real people and events through imagined dialogue and back story to make sense of it all. This book (like the others in the series) are entertaining ,but violent, fiction very loosely based on some events in Julius Caesars life........ a sort of Jack Reacher meets ancient Rome! The books are good reads but please do not think you will know much about Roman history at the end.
Many events have been completely changed, timescales compressed and even details of the people's lives, characters or physical appearance have been changed from what is known. If you are really interested in Ancient Rome keep Wikipedia handy to double check as you progress. Better still read Collen McCullough's Rome series which covers the period from Gaius Marius to Caesars assassination in great detail and with comprehensive notes. If detail and accuracy are not your thing you will enjoy these books as well written action adventures.
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on 15 August 2013
I'm not one to read too many fiction novels, but having been given The Gods of War (Book 4) and brushed up prior to reading on my Rome history, I was engrossed and couldn't put it down. I wanted to move on quickly to The Blood of Gods (Following Augustus and his rise to power). But having read the reviews for the earlier books I thought it best to back track and gain the full benefit of Conn Iggulden's imagination.

Though I preferred The Gods of War and found the first hundred pages of the Gates of Rome meandering; but of course you have to start somewhere to introduce the characters of such an epic task of five novels. I stuck to it and found it to be brilliant. Of course not much is known about Ceaser's youth and childhood yet by putting a little flesh on the bones and using your own imagination you get caught up and carried along quickly in the whole story. Fantastic.

Now on to Book 2. I'm sure I'll soon be on Book 5 by Christmas. You wont be disapointed with this book if you let your imagination take you and appreciate the best is yet to come.
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on 6 August 2009
What you need to understand is this series of books are a fictitious story loosely based on facts. As with TV histories for films and dramas facts are adapted to make the story more gripping and readable. If you want a book that is purely facts then don't buy this, buy a textbook written by a historian. These books are excellent if you bear in mind they are not out to get the facts clear and right; instead they are out to produce a good story that is based on the life of one of the most famous Roman Emperors, Gaius Julius Caesar.

The story is good, it is interesting and would satisfy any reader who loves a good story. This book has good descriptions of the people and places of Rome, which help to create a clear picture in your mind of what is going on and what life was like during those times.
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VINE VOICEon 21 March 2005
The Gates of Rome is the first novel in the Emperor series written by the ex-English teacher Conn Iggulden. Unfortunately my first impression was unfavourable, a comparison with the 'blockbuster' movie Gladiator. The cover features a gladiator's helmet and quotes The Times, 'If you liked Gladiator, you'll love Emperor'. However The Gates of Rome is no mere Hollywood distraction like the previously mentioned Gladiator, the recent Troy, and the soon to be released Alexander. Instead it is a true historical epic with fewer gladiators than the cover would have you believe (however for those who look for such things, the occasional gladiator does appear). It is an instant classic with all the depth and passion that you would associate with one.
Emperor: The Gates of Rome is the story of two young boys, Gaius and Marcus, who are destined to become two of the greatest Romans, who are still, even today, house-hold names. Cleverly and well written, the story hides the identities of the two boys until well into the book. The reader is continually drawn into the story with Conn Iggulden's descriptive style evoking the ancient Roman world incredibly well. We are taken from the rural farm of Gaius and Marcus's youth into the opulent Rome with all the excitements of gladiatorial games, political manoeuvrings of the senate and the deadliness of war. We follow the boys on the early steps of their careers, Gaius as a senator and Marcus as a legionary, both hoping to one day to make their impact on the Rome they love so much.
The Gates of Rome is incredibly well written, although this is sometimes achieved at the cost of historical accuracy. However, this is excusable, as all the changes made improve the plot and the passage of the story. In fact, the whole story is so well written that the 600 and so pages are consumed far too quickly, leaving you with only a single consolation; that there are two more books already published and hopefully more on the way.
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on 22 March 2013
I can't quite decide whether this is more a reworking of several combined sword and sandal epics, (themselves a mish-mash of fiction and fact), or simply inspired by them all. But although centring on the young Gaius, there are definite shades of Spartacus, in the main,and bits and pieces here and there of other stories of the time.

However, it is a good read in the end, but, in my opinion, it would have been even better if the book had stuck more to Gaius's life and doings, rather than cut to Marcus' lot after travelling with Renelius to join his legion, those parts are not so good and smell of padding out; if the author thought that Marcus was not far off equal billing and therefore justified his own bits, then, nonetheless, his sections away from Gaius and the others are not good enough.

The tale also briefly suggests that the healer in the crew is getting part of his skills from the great doctor in the sky. This is not developed further; whether it does re-emerge in the sequels I have no idea, but it does not work well in this book, it's just odd.

But, yes, still worth a read and just about worth its 3 stars, but sadly, not enough for me to rush off to the book shop or library to demand the other two books in the series.
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on 20 March 2011
Gates of Rome is the first book in Conn Iggulden's Emperor series, I came across this book a couple of years ago, purchased it and never got round to reading it - until now...

If like me there is anybody putting off perhaps delaying reading Gates of Rome then delay no more! What awaits you is an action packed page turner that immerses the reader in the early life of Gaius Julius Caesar. Conn Iggulden has managed to re-create the early life of Julius Caesar by beautifully weaving and capturing the Roman way of life, the traditions, politics and the society all conveyed effortlessly. The story begins with Julius and his friend Marcus (later Brutus) as children who slowly are trained and taught the way of a Roman Soldier/Politician and more importantly Man. The tale is supported with a host of believable characters from Julius's uncle Marius to the sadly fictional character of Renius the battle hardened Gladiator.

What strikes me most about Gates of Rome is the fluidity in which the story flows, at no one time does the story feel erratic. Conn Iggulden has created a real work of genius that leaves the reader wanting more, luckily there's another three books in the series after this!
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on 14 July 2007
This is by far one of my favourite books simply because it kept me turning the pages wanting to find out what heppens next.
Set in the time of the great Julius Caesar the book follows his life from him as a child all the way up to his fall at the hands of Brutus (earlier known in the books as Marcus along with Julius being known as Gaius).
A must for all historical fiction fans the Emperor series is really a great read with great characters like Pompey the man who would seek Caesar's downfall along with Brutus who loves Julius but also is jelous of him. The plot is enriching and powerful - all in all a super read.
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on 16 April 2012
I picked this book up some time ago in a fit of boredom at the supermarket, and I've tried 3 times to get past the first 2 chapters, but I can't, I just can't. This book is total nonsense, painted as historical fiction and I'd rather eat my own liver than attempt it again- I did think of giving it to my 13 year old son to read, but I can't inflict it on him and sleep at night.
If you want an exciting properly historical series about Rome, then Colleen McCullough's Masters of Rome series is the one to go for, I intend to reread them all to cleanse my mind of the clunking horror of this book.
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on 5 July 2005
The Emperor series was recommended to me, and thanks goodness - I am totally hooked!!! Compassionate fictional depiction of Caesar's childhood, coupled with a desire for acceptance and greatness and gripping battle scenes makes this book utterly unputdownable. So much so that I have bought the entire series and am rapidly advancing through the Death of Kings. Each book is more gripping than the last. I and many others I know are eagerly awaiting the fourth book in the series. Fantastic fiction which gives you a real life insight into Roman life and times - read it!!!
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