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4.4 out of 5 stars208
4.4 out of 5 stars
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on 3 May 2015
On the positive side, I did finish this book, even though I had to grind through it in places. On the other hand one is enough, I won't read another from this series. Compared with Roman books from other authors, this book is narrow and repetative. The writing style is, well, "poor" would not fair. I suppose "adequate" is a reasonable description. For example, when characters agree to meet or something is set to happen, it's always "in 15 minutes". It's like the author doesn't have another measure of time. After a while this becomes annoying.
In summary, this book added nothing to my knowledge or enjoyment of Roman times unlike Scarrow, Iggulden, Harris & co.
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on 17 April 2012
Having never heard of this author before I wasn't sure what to expect.i have thoroughly enjoyed this book and the characters he has created around Caesar and Brutus like Fronto, discovering Marius Mules has been a delight and I will continue to read my way through the rest of the series.I am definitely a fan!
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on 6 April 2015
Julius Caesar is a man whose ambition knows no bounds and Marcus Falerius Fronto, commander of the 10th Legion, career soldier and companion of the general for ten years, knows it all too well.

Caesar has assembled an army in northern Italy, his target Gaul, a country Rome has been at peace with for years. But Caesar’s desire for greatness and revenge drives him to engineer a war with the Celtic tribes that inhabit the region, no matter what it costs his men.

The Marius series has been on my radar for a while and, on the strength of this novel, so will the rest of the collection be.

Before going on I have a confession – I like novels set in the Roman period and I write them too, so it takes quite a lot to impress me. So what sets this novel apart? After all, there have been masses of books written about Caesar.

Well first is Caesar, whilst being central, he isn’t. Yes, he’s the hub around which the main characters (e.g. Fronto) revolve. He is an incredibly well known historical figure at the end of the day, but Turney doesn’t allow him to dominate. In fact it is the other figures that really drive the action along. Caesar provides the events, Fronto and his colleagues provide the detail, the activity, the personal touch.

Another aspect I appreciated was that often it was Caesar’s generals that made quite significant tactical decisions (and mistakes) that determined whether a battle was a success or a failure. In other words the great man wasn’t the omnipotent being portrayed in other stories.

Third, and critically, Turney has spent a significant amount of time on research. The battle scenes are very, very well drawn – they are compelling, believable and feel accurate. Caesar himself is portrayed as self-serving and brutal. Fronto, although admiring the man, does not trust him. So there are other human elements at play here beyond the simple aspect of ‘go and kill the enemy’. For example at the beginning of each chapter are two or three Latin words or phrases with an explanation as to what they mean, usually related to subsequent events. It adds colour to the narrative without long, drawn out and distracting explanations.

In summary this is an intelligent, well researched historical fiction novel that stands head and shoulders above the run of the mill tales of this type. Anyone with an enjoyment of this period should look at Marius’ Mules.

Originally reviewed for Books & Pals blog. May have received free review copy.
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on 10 October 2013
I love this genre, and having the HWA around to help me work out who to read next has been great, it lead me to discover SJA Turney on Twitter and in person (an utter gent). I have been meaning to read his books for some time but with so many authors a young child and limited funds I just never had the opportunity. Well I have started now and I have not been disappointed in fact I am thrilled by how good they are as SJA is such a nice bloke that it was a relief to love the book!
I love the military feeling these books have, and whilst the days of turning up to work under the weather from the night before are disappearing they are not in such distant memory! I love the minute by minute approach really letting me get to know the characters and get in the muck with them rather than a sweeping run through the period (not better just different and equally good!) I like that Fronto winds me up and gives me the feeling that he needs a jolly good kick up the rear end and there are characters a plenty to like and dislike... With almost all the books on my shelves you get a bit worried about who the author will kill off before the end of the book (why do they do this to us?) and this one is no different the characters in his mind need to keep their heads down I think!
The story is strong and compelling despite any small amount of historical knowledge giving you a vague idea of where we are heading! There are some books which need my full attention and some that I just enjoy with a glass of wine in a hot bath and this is of the latter category I read it almost in one sitting and then went headlong into book two. I like books that leave a big series open and knowing that I have at least 5 more to read (well 4 as I have just finished book 2 also) makes me a happy bunny! I know SJA is not as well known as some of the others in this genre but take a chance they are great fun!
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on 11 September 2012
... that I finished this series of books months ago and haven't as yet scribbled a review. I read a lot of Roman history, both fiction and non-fiction, the usual suspects ... Scarrow, Davis, Riches, Saylor, R.W Peake et al. No question, SJA Turney is a highly accomplished writer, and for those of us who like captivating story lines, who secretly imagine themselves sharing a campfire with their legionary tent mates, and who like to KEEP on following their new found buddies (that's a hint), you'll not regret enlisting with this legion.
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on 5 September 2013
This is a great book and though he tried to make it a series I think the first is the best. The hero is the head of a legion who loves his men and loves fighting. There isnt much about roman tactics in this book which he makes up for in the later books but I think it doesnt make much difference as there is plenty of fighting. Turney also cleverly lets the reader find out about cesars plans (and the history) from Marius being forced to attend staff meetings when he (and the reader) would rather be fighting and killing barbarians.
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on 17 July 2013
facinating almost a treatise on the roman legions written as a novel and with the politics and the nastiness included Cezar is not the brilliant genenal you may have thought him just a man with a nack of picking the right people and mostly the good sense to use them yes he is a tactition par excellence but he makes human mistakes and often his staff save his reputation and his neck .. tough, hard , and experienced roman fighters with their own strong personalities and you want them to succede
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on 24 March 2015
Yes, book started well for self publish but deteriorated as americanisms, bad grammar crept in. The ubiquitous he was sat etc. Then it seemed as if it was written by a football commentator with legionaries falling to the floor. Also, it seems that the author thinks that the hamstring is in the heel. I had considered giving the book 3 stars on the storyline but on reflection it consists of a few battles with officers getting drunk in between. I won't be buying an more in this series.
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on 8 June 2013
Having got part way through this part I purchased 2 and 3 and have since also bought 4 and 5. This series of books takes you through Caesers conquest of Gaul battle by battle and campaign by campaign. The story creates characters who are believable and takes you through the various battles in such a way that you cannot put the book down. It is a shame that the author does not take you through the campaign in Spain, but even so I can't wait to read the further adventures of Fronto.
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on 22 April 2011
This story is a well paced, page-turner, charting Julius Caesar's invasion of Gaul. If you are a fan of Historical Fiction from the likes of Simon Scarrow, Conn Iggulden and David Gemmell, then this really is a book for you!

With great characterisation, bloody battle scenes and political wranglings, the author tells a very different story of one of Rome's greatest Generals; revealing him to be a power-hungry politician rather than a hero of his people.
Written from the POV of the men under his leadership, you get a believable depiction of not only the man, but those under his command.

As an avid reader, I would have to say that this has been one of my favourite books this year.

A bloody triumph!
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