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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Oh yes...
I made the mistake of tarnishing one author with the tar of another's poor efforts based purely on a jacket cover. As a result the hardback version of Mr Jackson's novel has sat on my shelves collecting dust for three years till I was looking for a book to dip into for thirty minutes or so.
What a mistake.
Three hours later I put this to one side hugely...
Published on 3 Jun 2011 by travelswithadiplomat

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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A good solid read
With the Roman period being a popular era amongst many historical fiction writers any new book that comes out has to have something special in order to keep it not only entertaining but to make sure that its something fresh. Here Douglas Jackson tackles a tale based on Caligula from the point of view of a slave and whilst we do see that the historical "Little Boots" is...
Published on 17 Oct 2008 by Gareth Wilson - Falcata Times Blog


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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Oh yes..., 3 Jun 2011
I made the mistake of tarnishing one author with the tar of another's poor efforts based purely on a jacket cover. As a result the hardback version of Mr Jackson's novel has sat on my shelves collecting dust for three years till I was looking for a book to dip into for thirty minutes or so.
What a mistake.
Three hours later I put this to one side hugely impressed with Mr Jackson (to the point I'll Kindle the next one). The author provides little in the way of descriptions or Rome, Italy or any other part of an Empire under the auspices of Caligula, but what he does superbly is draw the reader into the mind of the characters. From the opening classic of a little boy pulling the wings off a daddy long legs (or thrusting a thorn through a blind baby blackbird in this case) to Rufus' training and debut in the arena with Frontus wild animals to Cupido's elegant, moral pathos as gladiator-extraordinaire we get to feel the brutality of life under this most infamous of Emperors. Jackson's wordsmith skills engage the pseudo-senses of hearing, taste, smell, touch as we travel with Rufus and Cupido from slaves to historical pivots within the mad world of Caligula's decadence.
I've not been caught off guard by a historical first novel for some considerable time. I'm delighted Jackson has done it and I'll read the next with a greater sense of expectation. I hope it's as good as this.
I'd give it five stars, but I do think the jacket is terrible - the fault of the publisher getting on the bandwagon of photo shots that liberally adorn historical fiction these days. They are just not to this reviewer's taste.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A good solid read, 17 Oct 2008
By 
Gareth Wilson - Falcata Times Blog "Falcata T... - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Caligula (Hardcover)
With the Roman period being a popular era amongst many historical fiction writers any new book that comes out has to have something special in order to keep it not only entertaining but to make sure that its something fresh. Here Douglas Jackson tackles a tale based on Caligula from the point of view of a slave and whilst we do see that the historical "Little Boots" is about we also get to see perhaps the more modern interpretation of the character come to the fore.

This makes the book not only interesting but allows the reader a certain amount of freedom although to be honest I really would have liked the book from Caligula's point of view rather than that of a slave who looks after the Emperors Elephant. Well written, witty in points with a protagonist who is broken by the society and is not a warrior unlike his friend who is a renowned gladiator. It's a fun read, it entertains and takes the reader through to the last days of Caligula's reign and begins the first days of the his successor. Throw into the mix the authors poetic licence with the events of the Emperors death and the tale does have real possibilities. If you like your historical fiction, whilst this won't set the world alight it's a solid read.
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42 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Read, 20 July 2008
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This review is from: Caligula (Paperback)
In the tradition of Gladiator and the mini-series Rome, I found Douglas Jackson's Caligula took me back to the ancient days of Rome with style so that I could almost breathe the heady air of the times and the Gladiator arena. Thrown into the mix is one Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus, aka Caligula, who manages to make Hannibal Lecter look like a petty criminal underachiever. It is into Caligula's court that Rufus enters, trainer of the Emperor's Elephant, and Cupido, Rome's greatest gladiator, as the two become embroiled in a plot to assassinate the Emperor. I found that Caligula took me right away into Ancient Rome for the whole book and it was a fantastic read being transported there. I'm really looking forward to whatever comes next from Rome and Douglas Jackson's pen (or quill!).
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55 of 62 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Emperor's Elephant, 31 Aug 2008
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This review is from: Caligula (Paperback)
This is a real page turner of a book, its 300+ pages passing in no time.

Great characters, an intriguing and exciting plot full of twists and turns, and a highly evocative depiction of ancient Rome all make for one of the best historical thrillers I have read this year. What captured me most though was the slow-burn sense of menace that pervades the book; Caligula is a complex monster who looms over everything, the reader never knowing where his murderous whim will take him next. The ending is pure adrenaline.

I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys thrillers: it won't disappoint. Certainly something to fill in the months till Robert Harris's next Roman offering. Order your copy now!
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent debut appearance on a crowded Roman scene, 27 Aug 2010
By 
J. Cooper (Sheffield, England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Caligula (Roman Trilogy 1) (Paperback)
This was my first Douglas Jackson novel which also happened to be his debut work.

I'm always a little sceptical when beginning a new series set within the `Roman Empire genre' as there are a lot of copycat sub-standard books within this field.

Well, it looks like I'm going to have to add another author to my favourites list!

This book was excellent and had me gripped from the first to the last page. The story is slightly unusual and follows the life of Rufus, a young slave who is brought into Emperor Caligula's household in order to look after the Imperial elephant. Caught up in the Emperor's madness and the progressive conspiratorial political plots to commit regicide, this humble slave embarks on a series of adventures which may have perilous consequences for all concerned.

The pace is relentless and the style of the writing can be best compared to a mixture between Robert Harris, Harry Sidebottom and Simon Scarrow. The book was well researched and felt authentic throughout, which is a key aspect for any book set within this genre. It's not a typical `blood and guts' legion novel, but a unique, highly exciting and ultimately refreshing Roman read.

Highly recommended for lovers of this genre.

Praise is most definitively due to this author for an excellent debut novel.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Gory fun, 18 Oct 2009
This review is from: Caligula (Roman Trilogy 1) (Paperback)
One of the most spiteful beginnings to a book! A truly great portrayal of Caligula and a wonderful insight into the grimy, gory world of the Roman lifestyles. Some likable characters and equally nasty ones to boot! Read this book if you loved the Conn Iggluden books. This book is definitely darker than the 'Emperor' series though not as well written. This book is also more gory than the sequel 'Claudius'. My biggest gripe (having read the Claudius book first) is that the ending seems weaker than the actual build up and is not as climatic or insightful as we are led to believe from all the referencing of the event in the Claudius book. Well worth reading - Rufus is a great character and refreshing in that he is not a soldier or a gladiator!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Held my interest all the way through, 15 Aug 2011
By 
Shazjera (Bournemouth) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Caligula (Roman Trilogy 1) (Paperback)
Our first meeting of Gaius in the prologue highlights the sadism prevalent in his character - even as a child. It's times like this I wish I wasn't so visual when reading!

The first part tells us the story of how Rufus moves from being a slave to the baker to be the slave of animal keeper Cornelius Aurius Fronto. We learn of the trust Fronto has in Rufus and how the dwindling of livestock for the arena prompts Rufus' idea of how the animals can be used differently. It is the success of this that leads to Rufus being recognised and later being taken by Gaius to work with his elephant. We come to understand Fronto and Rufus' father/son relationship. In the arena, we meet gladiator Cupido who is central to the plot.

I have to admit that the extreme feelings associated with the arena had me gripped. You can imagine how it is waiting to go and fight, hearing the other deaths before it's your turn to please the Emperor in the arena! When Rufus does his first and only display with the animals, the author writes in such a way that you also feel the numbness and fear that Rufus is feeling.

Emperor Tiberius dies and so the reign of death, destruction and torture begins with Gaius as Emperor. Through Rufus, we become involved in court intrigue, scandal and the plotting of the different factions. In some places, the violence is graphic but I have to admit gripping! There is loss and heartache. Surprisingly, there is also love ............. love between a man and a woman but also love between friends.

I enjoyed walking the narrow streets of Rome again, browsing through the different wares the booths were selling and seeing the great architecture. I didn't enjoy the smell of blood or decomposing bodies quite so much ........... but they're such an integral part of Caligula that it's all part of the adventure!

There is a lot of historical fact included in Caligula. It follows quite closely to what we know from historical records.

At no point while reading was I bored. In fact I was so caught up in this journey that I was loathe to put the book down. Caligula has taken me on a trip to the past and involved me in lives that became real to me. It has made me confront the dark shadows that are inherent in all of us. I hesitantly turned the pages towards the end (even though I wanted to know what would happen!) because I just didn't want it to end.

Buy it but be loathe to share your copy - it's a keeper!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The elephant and the dwarf, 27 Aug 2009
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This review is from: Caligula (Roman Trilogy 1) (Paperback)
Jackson has an easy style and some nice touches, like his hero's connection with animals and a spying dwarf for a wife. I almost dropped Jackson a star for the horrid bits, like the ghastly death of the hero's mentor, but gave him the benefit of the doubt as he was after all dealing with the excesses of a cruel emperor. Jackson does his research well and spots opportunities to get behind events and trends in ancient Rome, the depravity of an Emperor and the corruption of officials. I look forward to the continuing story in Claudius in which I gather the hero, Rufus, takes his Elephant on the campaign trail to Britain... interesting. I look forward to it! Libertas
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An enjoyable blend of fiction and history., 2 Aug 2011
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This review is from: Caligula (Hardcover)
CALIGULA Douglas Jackson 2008

The pivotal characters are Rufus a slave with a natural talent for training animals for the arena who is purchased from his master by the Emperor Caligula as keeper for the Imperial Elephant and his friend Cupido a famous gladiator. Through the eyes of the slave the reader is drawn into the decadent and corrupt world of the imperial court and the reign of the mad and brutal emperor. The story follows the lives of slave, gladiator and emperor from Caligula's ascension to the imperial purple to his death.

The story moves along at a good pace, the background appears well researched and the fictitious elements blend into the historical setting well. I found this novel, absorbing, easy to read with believable and sympathetic characters and was eager to move straight onto the sequel the next day.

This was Mr Jackson's debut novel and is one of a pair of stories featuring Rufus, the imperial elephant keeper, (the sequel being Claudius - published in 2009).
I actually had both books on my shelf for nearly two years before getting around to reading them as I was somewhat dubious about the idea of the ` imperial elephant keeper'. In fact, by the time I had half completed Caligula Mr Jackson had managed to convince me that this was a perfect fitting piece of the jigsaw.

An enjoyable read with very few glaring errors, a good blend of fiction and history.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, 17 Feb 2009
This review is from: Caligula (Hardcover)
I picked up this book just on the off chance found myself gripped quite quickly a good read some good characters over all highly enjoyable
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Caligula (Roman Trilogy 1)
Caligula (Roman Trilogy 1) by Douglas Jackson (Paperback - 12 Feb 2009)
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