23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Blood and Guts
I am an avid reader of Roman fiction and have read Scarrow and Sidebottom among others so bring a certain critical frame to this novel set in the period when Caesar embarks on his career into Gaul. It is a long work and very detailed in its descriptions of the day to day life as viewed through the eyes of its main protagonist Titus Pullus. As he embarks on a life as a...
Published 22 months ago by Francis Hagan
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting perspective
Well researched and ties in with the known history around the events. As a military man the author gives a useful insight into how armies and the soldiers who make them up actually think and feel. I suspect that many things are indeed the same then and now! Believable and with a good grasp of the differing tactics and field operations. If there is a criticism it is...
Published 8 months ago by Horshamtim
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Blood and Guts,
I am an avid reader of Roman fiction and have read Scarrow and Sidebottom among others so bring a certain critical frame to this novel set in the period when Caesar embarks on his career into Gaul. It is a long work and very detailed in its descriptions of the day to day life as viewed through the eyes of its main protagonist Titus Pullus. As he embarks on a life as a legionary he takes the reader deep into the routines and training and battles of the legion. At first I was daunted by the length but I have to say that I was gripped from the first page onwards. Peake is able to infuse a lot of detail into character interaction and drama and so the action and description never feels like a lecture or out of place. This is a tricky act to pull off and Peake does it superbly. Vary rarely was I aware of lengthy descriptions or details except to read of them in the context of the ongoing action and drama. As a result, I thoroughly recommend this work to anyone interested in the this period of the Roman history. There is a gritty realism to it which makes it stand apart from the works of Scarrow and Sidebottom, for example, as the latter have always struck me as being a little too anachronistic in their characters and events - more as if a nostalgic British Empire is re-dressed in togas and sandals! Much as I do like their work, Peake here has crafted a solid and bloody novel which really plunges you into the day to day life of a legionary on the march - and as Pullus rises up through the ranks and the grades in the exercitus of Rome, so too do you.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent with no reservations,
I've read many Roman novels - Simon Scarrow being one of my favourites. I normally don't like the first person account (because they obviously have lived through everything!). However in this case what a pleasure it was to read. I read it in 2 days!
Historically accurate, well reseached and magnificently written. I cannot wait for the next book in the series.
Add it to your list of must read books if you like this kind of fiction.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just buy it,
I'm not a great fan of the first party narrative but this is an absolutely excellent read. If you are a fan of Ancient Rome or simply like a good war story this is the book for you. As an aside, as an ex soldier, it's amazing how little has changed in 2000 years.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding debut!,
This review is from: Marching With Caesar: Conquest of Gaul (Kindle Edition)
Calix Imperium, Roma Victrix Pewter wine beaker
As an ex British Para with a long service record, amateur historian and complete aficionado of Rome and its Legions, I congratulate Ron Peake for the in-depth research that he has undertaken to bring his readers, what I feel, is one of the best novels ever written on the Roman Legionary.
What puts this novel head and shoulders above contemporary authors including Scarrow, Sidebottom, Iggulden and others, is the FLAWLESS sense of realism throughout, which is amplified by the authors own military experience.
The character of Titus Pullus, the main protagonist, embarks on his military career at the age of 16, he is inducted into the X Legion, from this moment on his life is dramatically changed, he experiences the harsh introduction to discipline, training, and above all: the camaraderie. This was the principal formula for the ancient world's finest fighting machine, the Roman Legion.
THE PERFECT COMPANION TO THIS EXCELLENT SERIES IS, THE ROMA VICTRIX WINE BEAKER. Ron Peake is the proud owner of one, this is what he has to say about it:
The workmanship is outstanding, and while I am certainly no expert on pieces of this type, it has a substantial feel to it; when I pick it up there's nothing flimsy about it and one can feel and see the craftsmanship that went into it. The engraved figures are extraordinarily detailed; All in all I couldn't be happier with the Calix and what it represents. Truly Rome is eternal if even now people around the world are still interested in the Legions, and this Calix is a worthy representative of that time and place! Calix Imperium, Roma Victrix Pewter wine beaker
Two thousand years later, that basic formula is still applied (with rigor) to our elite units today.
Some reviewers state that the book is over long, mainly because the author describes, in great detail, the above formula; one must remember, that the main reason the Romans triumphed time and again over their enemies, although on many occasions vastly outnumbered, was because of the said formula. As the 1st century historian Josephus stated :
"It would not be wrong to describe their exercises as bloodless battles and their battles bloody exercises".
For my part, I understand perfectly the reason Ron Peake delved into so much detail in regard to the formula, to help the reader understand what made the Romans Victorious.
To summarise: The book is written in the first person narrative, which in this case enhances the authors descriptive powers to the point that one feels a personnel affinity with Titus Pullus and his tent party. All aspects are covered: the arduous life of a legionary, interspersed with humour, boredom, and the mental and physical trauma of battle, all the soldiers lot.
Although 662 pages long I found myself completely immersed, and memories of my own experiences came flooding back with each chapter.
I am now waiting in anticipation the delivery of the second part of the trilogy, Marching With Caesar: Civil War.
I highly recommend this book to all aficionados, and anyone remotely interested in Roman military history.
To Ron Peake, Ad Victorem spolias.
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Avid reader,
I Love reading about ancient Rome particularly between 1st centuries BC and AD.
I read loads and have particularly enjoyed James Mace and Simon Scarrow. I started to read Marching with Caesar without any great expectation (Soppy title really)and at first the comparisons with Cornwall's Uhtred stories held me back a bit , third party memoirs had been done very well. But then I got a real sense of authenticity. The pace is great, the action sufficient and the characters burst to life, they are almost real.
R W Peake, I didn't think anyone could find a new aspect on the conquest of Gaul, let alone make me believe that he actually might have fought there himself. Can't wait for episodes two and three.
Unexpected classic. Second best lucky dip ever from the Kindle list for me, after Hawk Road., Brilliant,. Well done sir.
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping and realistic new series,
This was much better than I was expecting. I have read a lot of historical fiction over the last few decades - and plenty of non-fiction too - and I am pretty difficult to please. So many books about the period tend to be filled with modern characters dressed up in togas, acting in a way and expressing thoughts that are quite anachronistic. No such criticism of the characters in this book - they look, feel (& smell!) like Romans! Better still, the characters are interesting, engaging and develop as the story progresses. The story is marvelous - and so it should be, since it is "lifted" directly from the Conquest of Gaul by Caesar himself!
However, one of the most attractive aspects of the book is to retell a famous story from the opposite point of view to Caesar - i.e. a poor farm boy who joins the army and lives through the major events, and present this in a convincing manner. A well-worn formula indeed, but executed with great skill, particularly in the use of well thought out sub-plots and character development to illustrate the wider story from point of view of both the Gauls and the Romans.
In many ways, this is better than Scarrow, who I find adequate but rather lightweight - and in some parts even approaches the standard of my favorite author of historical fiction, Bernard Cornwell, particularly in the description of combat. This all sounds very positive, but it is quite difficult to find much to criticize in terms of what the author has set out to do.
I only spotted one major historical howler - in a discussion about calculating plunder to be shared out, the explanation provided by one of the characters revolves around the use of the value zero, and employing it in a way that would not come into general use for another 1500 years at least. However, this one small blemish did not spoil my enjoyment of the book in any way, and I look forward to the next book in the series with great anticipation.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A well-researched war book,
This is probably a man's book. It is immensely long and most of it is about fighting. The author has certainly done his research; he has studied Roman history, even to the extent, he tells us, of kitting himself out in authentic Roman legionary's kit and going for long marches in it to find out how it felt. He has himself served in the US marines and uses that experience to imagine how a Roman soldier would have acted and felt. He does this well. He pulls few punches - except possibly about rape - and the battle and massacre scenes are vividly described and truly shocking. This is war as it must have been for those in Caesar's armies - horrible, personal, and bloody. It is also quite amazing and sobering, for someone who has not specialized in this period, to read of the size of the armies of the Gauls which the Romans - mostly - defeated; not just Asterix and Obelix, but hundreds of thousands of men from many different tribes. These ancient wars were no sideshow, but a colossal struggle for dominance.
Despite its length, the book is well written and easy to read. There are several maps at the beginning, but the kindle doesn't do maps well, and if I had read it in a print edition I would have hoped for many more smaller maps to illustrate the different battles, the tactics of which are not always easy to follow completely. The author provides a glossary of Latin phrases, but those which I searched for in it, such as acies triplex, were not there. The story is told by the hero, Titus Pullus, in the first person. He is a wholly believable character, as are his friend Vibius and the other legionaries, but there are only two necessarily minor female characters, and because the story is constructed around a series of campaigns which the soldiers have little choice but to follow, it lacks the dramatic tension common to most novels, where the story is driven by the choices and decisions the characters make.
Nonetheless the story is very readable, very memorable, and a considerable achievement. Caesar's army brought to life.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Conquest of Gaul Told Through the Eyes of a Soldier!,
Marching with Caesar is an extremely interesting account of a young soldier's experiences in the Roman Legion during the reign of Gaius Julius Caesar. Titus Pomponius Pullus is a young farm boy whose father has not much use for him, so he enlists in the Roman army. There, he demonstrates his skills as both a devoted career soldier with great potential. R.W. Peake traces first part of the fascinating career of Pullus in fine detail, from early basic training with his friend Vibius through the battles (ending with the "Rubicon") in graphic detail as though he himself lived it, all told from the main character's point of view. The dialogue contributes to the realism and authenticity of the time. Although I am not a history buff, I found myself engrossed in the story right from the beginning. This is is much more than a mere novel, but an epic story that I recommend highly for its historical accuracy and entertainment value. Seldom do readers find both; R.W. Peake will be a name to watch for in the Historical Fiction genre, especially since this is the first in a trilogy!
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant,
An amazingly interesting story. The story just captures your attention. I find myself avoiding important house hold jobs just to sit and read this book instead, as it is so addictive (my fiancée was actually telling our friends that I've been ignoring her to read some stupid book! How dare she.)
It is well written and it just captures your imagination... the characters are very real, you can actually imagen that these people are real, that it was actually someone's diary.
The story has a very good plot, explaining everything where it has to, but leaving enough to your imagination to get you stuck reading it all day.
When things happen to the characters I felt myself reacting with the characters, feeling for them as if they were real.
There is also some very good historic knowledge in this book, I am finding things out that I didn't know even though I have been an avid Roman history buff for year.
I am a massive fan of ancient history novels, such as B Cornwell, S Scarrow, C Iggulenn, A Riches, S Turney etc, and this book defiantly can go head to head with any of them.
In conclusion, it has everything you could want, violence, comradery, romance, heart ache, and more violence.
It is certainly worth a read, you won't regret it.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent First Novel,
I chanced on this novel whilst browsing the Kindle store, downloaded it for a pittance, and stumbled into the best read I've had for quite some time. The Author is ex Military (as am I), and this shows not only in the convincing, realistic characterisation of the key players, but also in the wealth of detail about training, attitudes and relationships experienced by those in the front line. I'm not often a fan of the first-person narrative style, but it certainly works well here, and gives a convincing, first-hand impression of what it might have been like to actually go 'Marching with Caesar'. Can't wait for publication of parts 2 and 3 of the planned trilogy.
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Marching With Caesar: Conquest of Gaul by R. W. Peake (Paperback - 3 July 2012)
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