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30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Up Close And Personal
The author of Marius's Mules has made a number of key decisions in planning what will (hopefully) be a long series of historical novels. Firstly, he has selected a model, in this case the professional officers of the Roman Army behave not unlike professional officers of the British Army - the enemy being of less importance much of the time than internal loyalties and...
Published on 10 Aug. 2011 by Charles Vasey

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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not sure what the fuss is about...
It's not often I come across a book I can't finish through sheer boredom... but this book succeeds.

I bought this book on the strength of the reviews here on Amazon and I'm quite baffled as to what the fuss is about. This book isn't badly written, it flows well enough and the style is easy to read - hence two stars, but that's it.
There is simply no depth...
Published on 30 May 2012 by Craig Chandler


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30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Up Close And Personal, 10 Aug. 2011
By 
Charles Vasey (London, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Marius' Mules I: The Invasion of Gaul (Paperback)
The author of Marius's Mules has made a number of key decisions in planning what will (hopefully) be a long series of historical novels. Firstly, he has selected a model, in this case the professional officers of the Roman Army behave not unlike professional officers of the British Army - the enemy being of less importance much of the time than internal loyalties and rivalries. This worked very well indeed in the novel "Imperial Governor" by George Shipway and S.J.A Turney uses it to advantage here. This model gives us men who, while living in an alien world, address it much as we would. Secondly, he has decided to proceed (as armies proceed) slowly. This novel only takes us up to the defeat of Ariovistus. It will take a number of novels to complete De Bello Gallico. This means characters and their actions are not hurried along but develop at their own pace. The result will be immensely pleasing to a lot of readers, especially those who do their homework on the subject.

I could not quite stretch to five stars (though 4.5 is what I wanted) because I found the characters suffered to a degree from Richard Sharpe Syndrome, they were often either all Good or all Bad. The hatchet job on P. Licinius Crassus is excellent for plot (a rich useless aristo just like Sir Henry Simmerson) but not, I think, for history. The sketch of C. Julius Caesar was much more complex however, he is clearly a leader of men, and a bit of a rotter in the eyes of our hero, the stern M. Falerius Fronto.

However, who knows what lies ahead for I see we are off to fight the fearsome Belgae in the next volume.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good story but the editor should be sacked, 19 Aug. 2011
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I enjoyed this story for much of the time, but a few of the elements were worryingly grating: in both this and his second story, the plot elements are very similar: hero fights against over-whelming odds, gets injured, best friends are killed, Roman discipline, technology and tactical superiority save the day, hero gets drunk with mates and argues with Caesar who puts up with it.
But worst of all, the man who edits the story has not done a very good job. There were cases when the sentences did not make sense, where words were spelled incorrectly [ e.g. keep soldiers on a tight `reign' rather than `rein'] and some of the sentences were poorly constructed with repetition of words within them. A good editor should have spotted all these flaws.

I am no English teacher, but this is something I have rarely seen in published works, and would prefer not to.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Oh when the tenth ... goes marching in, 17 Dec. 2013
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Like other reviewers I've waded through ( and enjoyed ) the Scarrow, R W Peake etc Roman series. I like books that run in a series because when you get to book 2 you are working with old friends. I liked the attitude of the hero ( Fronto ) in this book .. I hadn't really thought about a senior army officer telling Ceasar that some of his ideas were crap. I had sort of got the idea that what Ceasar said went .. a guy you just didn't disagree with if you wanted to get up next morning. But here we are .. one of Ceasar's top officers having a bit of rebel in him, getting away with murder and facing Ceasar down occasionally. A rebel with a cause, a guy loved by his men, a leader who makes his legion top dogs and even though he rattles Ceasar's cage now again Ceasar tolerates it because Fronto is a "special one". There is a great line in a later book where a Gaul tells Fronto "the tenth is a legion of chaos - that's what makes them the best". A reference to the spirit of the tenth. So in book 1 we get to meet the principal characters as they trundle about fighting and drinking and fighting and drinking and ... er, well more fighting and drinking really .. and a bit of marching and digging. But if you read Roman stories you know they are all like that .. it's the characters that make the story and I reckon in Fronto we have a real character. I even found that a couple of times I was thinking .. "Fronto .. you got to cut down the drinkng man and you need a wash and a shave .. you're really going to blow it with Ceasar this time". I mean, just how do you get away with snoring and farting when Ceasar is trying to plan tomorrow's battle ! Excellent read ...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable page turner, but with some poor writing skills at times, 27 Jan. 2012
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Firstly let me say I enjoyed this book and will download the next. The plot is well thought out and the novel drives nicely towards its conclusion.

There are however some areas of writing that desperately needed an editor's skill.
The dialogue is often contrived and probably the weakest area of the book, but this is balanced with fantastic action sequences which are very well written.

At times the characters resort to slapstick comedy, which doesn't quite work especially when it comes from the senior officers within the campaign. I doubt very much if an army commander, let alone Caesar would have put up with even a small measure of the kind of thing that Fronto, the main character gets away with. The end of the campaign's staff meeting where senior and staff officers are drunk, falling asleep, falling over etc not only lack credibility, it detracts from the very good parts of the novel.

The other area of weakness in the novel is during the final battle when after pages and chapters of building to the climax, the author suddenly goes back to his main character and what he has been doing whilst the battle, which he is not directly involved in, has been going on. Taking you back in time and effectively grinding the pace to a halt.
This was not only very poor writing and clumsily handled, but took away from what up until then had been a page turning rollercoaster of a ride. A very basic error from an author who had shown he was more than capable of writing a great action novel.

I did like the explanation of Roman and Latin terms at the beginning of each chapter, which enabled the reader to read the chapter with knowledge and without having to refer to some end of book glossary. This was innovative and worked well.

Overall a very good read which could have been a great read.

In my opinion it deserves 3.5 stars, as that is not possible I have given it 4, but could have/ should have been a 5.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best couple of pounds I have spent, 22 July 2013
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I read a lot of historical fiction and this had been on my kindle for some time to read. In the end I opted to pick up and read Marius' Mules and was surprised how much it gripped me from the off.
Do not think this will be about Marius but understand this is actually about Caesar and his "picking fights with Gauls".

The reason this was such a good read was the character development. I ended up enjoying and wishing for things to happen to certain characters just to see what the end would be. This is one of the few times I have laughed out loud with historical fiction. It reminds me a lot of Simon Scarrow's earlier books with Macro and Cato; do not be put off however, as this is high praise indeed.

This has got to be the best couple of pounds I have ever spent; I had even purchased the next before I had finished this one.

I am not overly sure how accurate this all to be but I am not one to be picking through this kind of thing - all I am after is a good story. In the end the portrayal of Caesar was refreshing and a few could take note of the alternative angle portrayed here.

Anyway, I am off to read the next book!
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26 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Self Publishing does Work, 11 Jun. 2011
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Parm (A bookshop near you) - See all my reviews
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When I was asked to look up this title I have to say I was unsure!
Its not main stream publication, its got little or not marketing behind it...etc. etc...
But im a sucker for a roman historical fiction book, and the tag line:
"It is perhaps time we looked at Caesar more as a scheming warmonger than a heroic warrior."
This appealed to me, ole JC gets his behind kissed a bit too much so it would be good to see him portrayed a little differently.

This is the up to date more edited version, an advantage over the big publishing houses, the author has the ability to go back do those corrections and updates and edits and then resubmit them for the next print run very easily. especially for the kindle versions of this book.

This is a great title, with a great bunch of characters, set in a pivotal period of history. really is a winner on so many levels, don't miss it!
(Parm)
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Historical Fiction at its best, 22 April 2011
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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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Marius mules review, 27 Feb. 2013
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This review is from: Marius' Mules I: The Invasion of Gaul (Paperback)
After reading this first book in the series,Iwas amazed how accurate the author portrayed his characters, this is about the workings of the Roman army and the life of Ceaser, as he battled his way through the hordes of gauls, belgae etc. youare gripped by the action and bloodshed which takes placeand how Fronto one of the trusted few gets through it all even though he suffers various wounds in the process at the moment I am reading the second in the series, which is as well written as the first one, Consequently I will be reading the complete series in due course and am sure will enjoy every one, Therefore Iwould recommend these books to anyone interested in the Roman army and the conquering of the various peoples they have to fight. Very enjoyable reads indeed. D Bowen.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining, 17 April 2012
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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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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not sure what the fuss is about..., 30 May 2012
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It's not often I come across a book I can't finish through sheer boredom... but this book succeeds.

I bought this book on the strength of the reviews here on Amazon and I'm quite baffled as to what the fuss is about. This book isn't badly written, it flows well enough and the style is easy to read - hence two stars, but that's it.
There is simply no depth to the story, narrative or characters. It reads very much like a schoolboy adventure novel in the style of Willard Price. It's a convoluted series of events with no real detail or description of how these events occur the way they do, they just happen. Any hint of intrigue or sub plot is usually resolved within a dozen pages. I'm a fan of this period in history but the lack of detail and authenticity meant this novel could have been set anywhere and at any time. Fans of Roman history might be disappointed by the complete lack of atmosphere and it makes the likes of Scarrow and Iggulden look positively high-brow.

Every character is either a conniving yet strangely ignorant political schemer, or a quietly competent yet admirable career soldier. While we learn the history of the main protagonist there's nothing to distinguish him in terms of personality, outlook or dialogue from half the other characters. As such he is very two dimensional and uninvolving. Since he is effectively the narrator it makes for a pretty dull novel.

That being said it isn't particularly difficult to read. It's easy to put down and pick up again but I prefer something with a bit more depth and atmosphere.
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Marius' Mules I: The Invasion of Gaul
Marius' Mules I: The Invasion of Gaul by S.J.A. Turney (Paperback - 18 Nov. 2010)
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