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33 of 36 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon 4 June 2013
So after a gap of 8 years since the last book in this series
1. The Gates of Rome (2003)
2. The Death of Kings (2004)
3. The Field of Swords (2004)
4. The Gods of War (2005)
5. The Blood of Gods (2013)
How does this new offering stack up? does it have all that the early books did? or has it progressed with the writers skill?
I'm happy to say that the book retains the passion of the early Emperor books, but incorporates all the lessons learned since that time.
As usual with this series you have to accept the authors slight meddling with the timeline for places and character names, this as per previous books is done to make the book a tight, fast paced novel, whilst retaining the integrity of the history (it is fiction after all). All those niggles the purist may have are answered in the author notes at the back of the book.
This book tells how Octavian starts his rise to power, how does a young boy of 17 take over from his adopted father? how does he suddenly take on the devious and wily Liberatores, the men who killed Caesar? And how does he command the respect of the people and legions of Rome?
Conn gives a convincing and powerful portrayal of this young man and his two friends Agrippa and Maecenas, their journey from adolescents enjoying leave in Greece, to absorbing the news of the murder of the greatest man of their age and then the audacity and prowess needed to take on the might of the senate, Cassius, Brutus, Mark Anthony and the systemic corruption and arrogance of the Roman elite.
Conn charts this progress with skill and believability, we know Octavian managed all this, what many know is how, the high level story but we don't know all the problems he faced along the way. One of the best parts of Conn's writing and research is how he mixes in all the little facts, the nuggets that are so strange they sound like fiction, and turn out to be true. When you couple that with his natural storytelling skill, you get a stunning novel.
You know the type of bloke, a person who in face to face in conversation can just keep a whole room captivated. He is the type of guy you either hated at school or wanted as your best mate. I think we just need to be thankful he became a writer so we get to enjoy that natural storytelling talent, rather than him being the centre of attention in the pub on a Friday night.
Are there issues with the book?
Yes, it's not long enough this story deserves a whole series all on its own, the story of Octavian is just as epic as Gaius Julius Caesar, in fact possibly more so, Octavian was thrown in at the deep end Caesar had time to build and learn. Octavian was the true father of Imperial Rome and ruled until the age of 75, which in Rome is unprecedented. This series was supposed to end with book 4 and yet we have book 5 and WOW am i glad we do...will Conn cave and do book 6? I doubt it but never say never. I still hold out hope of another Genghis book but don't ever expect to get one.
After this brilliant book we have a shift in time periods for Conn his next book is set somewhat later than this series, and when i have more i will blog on it, he will be at a new publishers also, so we should see some fantastic new cover styles to compliment the book.
Many thanks to Harper Collins for bringing us such a fine writer and so many brilliant tales.

But for now, Conn signs off with Harper in style, with a truly powerful dramatic tale that fulfilled almost every expectation I had for Octavian's rise to power.

Very Highly recommended

Conn made my Top 10 books list, see which book and where
For Conn's other books see below
1. The Gates of Rome (2003)
2. The Death of Kings (2004)
3. The Field of Swords (2004)
4. The Gods of War (2005)
5. The Blood of Gods (2013)
Gates of Rome / Death of Kings (omnibus) (2009)
Emperor: The Gates of Rome / The Death of Kings / The Field of Swords / The Gods of War (omnibus) (2011)

1. Wolf of the Plains (2007)
aka Genghis: Birth of an Empire
2. Lords of the Bow (2008)
aka Genghis: Lords of the Bow
3. Bones of the Hills (2008)
4. Empire of Silver (2010)
aka Khan: Empire of Silver
5. Conqueror (2011)
Conqueror and Lords of the Bow (omnibus) (2009)
The Khan Series (omnibus) (2012)
Conqueror Series 5-Book Bundle (omnibus) (2013)

1. Tollins: Explosive Tales for Children (2009)
2. Dynamite Tales (2011) (with Lizzy Duncan)

Quick Reads 2012
Quantum of Tweed: The Man with the Nissan Micra (2012)

Blackwater (2006)

Non fiction
The Dangerous Book for Boys (2006) (with Hal Iggulden)
The Dangerous Book for Boys Yearbook (2007) (with Hal Iggulden)
The Pocket Dangerous Book for Boys: Things to Do (2007) (with Hal Iggulden)
The Pocket Dangerous Book for Boys: Things to Know (2008)(with Hal Iggulden)
The Pocket Dangerous Book for Boys: Wonders of the World(2008) (with Hal Iggulden)
The Dangerous Book for Boys Kit: How to Get There (2008)
The Dangerous Book for Boys Kit: Nature Fun (2008)
The Dangerous Book for Boys: 2009 Day-to-Day Calendar(2008)
The Pocket Dangerous Book for Boys: Facts, Figures and Fun(2008)
The Dangerous Book of Heroes (2009) (with David Iggulden)
The Dangerous Book for Boys 2010 Day-to-Day Calendar (2009)(with Hal Iggulden)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 18 August 2014
I have either read or listened to a number Conn Iggulden's historical fiction books and CD audio books. They have all been, for me, very well done and highly entertaining. Dare I say that his books set a high standard across the board for `historical fiction'. Mr Iggulden's first presentation was a book called `The Gates of Rome'; this was to be first of a series of five books of what is now known as Emperor Series.

The series is based around the life of Julius Caesar, from juvenile to his eventual betrayal and death (The Gods of War). The author's ability to cleverly entwine fact and fiction, in seamless fashion is truly flawless in my opinion, and this really makes his books work. This range of books has proved so popular that a film company has optioned the rights.

In this concluding book in the series Conn Iggulden gives a superb account of the aftermath of Caesar's assassination and the resolute mission of his adopted son Octavian to hunt down his killers. This is familiar history - but Iggulden has breathed new life here especially thanks to his recreation of Octavian, his friends and Mark Antony. Agrippa is my particular favourite here. A superb novel where the narration is top notch and crisp in its delivery as we see a nation that is in turmoil looking for revenge, which will be paid in blood on the battlefield at Philippi - who will be the victor and control Rome Mark Antony, or the untested Octavian?
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on 27 June 2013
Conn's books up to now have been among my favourites of all time, with the Emperor series particularly high on my list, so I must admit to being quite excited when I got this. I was crushingly disappointed. Even being a history buff, I didn't mind that throughout the Emperor series, history had been changed here and there to fit in with the story as the books were such an enjoyable read, and the introduction of fictional characters and the omission of quite important characters in the real story bothered me not at all, such was my enjoyment. So what happened here?

Brutus hardly knows Octavian in the new book which is surprising considering how much time they spent together in the last 4. what happened to Domitian, Ciro and the rest of the crew, surely just a paragraph to either kill them off or retire them would have been tidier. It seems with the introduction of some of the real historical characters and trying to be a little (not much) closer to actual history, this book lost its soul along the way. For those readers without a passing knowledge of the period but who have enjoyed the 4 previous books, there would have been a lot of "where the hell did he come from? " going on.

This would have been far better billed as a stand alone book, not as No5 of the series, with a footnote distancing this book from the rest. Then I would have been able to fully enjoy it, as it actually (once I got my head around it) is really quite good.

So in conclusion, don't read this expecting it to be No5, it isn't, but saying that I hope Conn now tidies it all up and does the final book and documents the fall of Antony and expands the story of Agrippa who was quite an extraordinary man.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
The perfect companion for all Roman history enthusiasts is THE ROMA VICTRIX WINE BEAKERCalix Imperium, Roma Victrix Pewter wine beaker

Having read the previous 4 installments (and the whole of the Conqueror series too!) I found this an enjoyable read, albeit not quite as strong as the rest in the series, not surprising given that we had 4 books to establish ourselves with Julius and Brutus and scarcely 4 chapters for us to build the same rapport with Agrippa and Maecenas, the book is still enjoyable as it brings us up to the events of Philippi and the final defeat of the Libertatores.

Having recently enjoyed the excellent podcast series "The History of Rome" I wonder if there exists a similar pseudo-fictional timeline of Ancient Rome encompassing a number of various authors creations, i.e. I, Claudius etc...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 1 December 2013
I don't read this sort of book as a history primer - I don't expect it to be spot-on in facts and timing.

What I do look for is an entertaining read, plus a feel for the times the book is staged in, plus, a feel for the general flow of the historical events. This book provides that in spades.

While I have read the rest of this series, I've never really thought about the events following Caesar's death, until Graves' "I, Claudius" kicks in. This book is a very good book indeed and bridges that span well.

Quite an eye-opener describing a load of historical characters I know the names of, but have not been able to link, even if loosely, before.

Well recommended. I couldn't put it down.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 7 October 2013
Often the books in a series lose pace as the author runs out of ideas not this book it builds to a fitting climatic battle ending in the death of Brutus, who's ultimate failure with the great prize in sight seems fitting for the angry jealous boy he always was. Conn often in his books misses out large chunks of history so as he says to let the plot flow. Personally Conn my old son I'd I'd include more as I think the gaps are detrimental to the books and great men portrayed in them. Still it's a five star book and a five star series. Now on to the conqueror series for the 11th time. An even better series.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 28 November 2013
If you are a fan of the Emperor series this book will not disappoint. Written in the same style and with the same gripping pace this book is enjoyable and I struggled to put it down.

I gave the book 5 stars due to the fact that I really enjoyed it and am a fan of the series and author in general.

If you are looking for historical accuracy then this isn't really for you as Iggulden isn't rigid in this sense in order to keep the book relatively simple and avoid confusion.

All in all I was very pleased with the book and enjoyed it immensely.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 26 February 2014
In a market awash with this genre of historical fiction Conn Iggulden is the stand out author!
The pace and ocntent of the book always keeps you entertained and wanting to read more.
I finished this book then started the series again and am back onto Book 3.
The book just kept me fascinated from start to finish and i couldnt put it down.
If you like the Emperor series i'd highlighly recommend the Conqueror series and Conn's short storeies novels which are outstanding for the commutes to work.
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It started off with an oomph that developed a slow pace and petered out.
The scene of betrayal and the subsequent actions of those that murdered him was very well done. The only scene that topped it was Mark Anthony describing Brutus walk towards his victim in the final moments.
Unfortunately I felt it lost its initial swagger after that. The story seemed more like reading/watching a TV show. When it comes to staying clse to historical facts you often find that the author has to to be mindful not to be overly academic or over the top fanciful fictious. It is a double edged sword and quite a balancing act.
The read was pleasant but it wasn't memorable.
Iggulden didn't replicate the same aura of camaraderie and sense of power in this book, as he did with the previous ones in the series. These strong historical characters become mere afterthoughts due to weak character description and depiction, instead of the powerful figures they actually were.
At least that's what it felt like for me.
It almost felt as if the author wasn't really into it or was just going through the motions.
Not at all like his Wolf of the Plains (Conqueror, Book 1) Genghis Khan series.
I received a free copy of this book via NetGalley.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
TOP 100 REVIEWERon 6 December 2014
The story continues now that Julius Caesar has been assasinated and now it is Octavian's chance to seek power having been named as Caesar's adopted son and heir...

This is a great novel - written with style and great apolmb by Conn Iggulden. There are some really great historical fiction writers but none are better than Iggulden. You quickly become immersed in his world - his characters are always believable.

An excellent novel!
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