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4.6 out of 5 stars
Marching With Caesar: Conquest of Gaul
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 8 March 2014
The perfect gift for all Roman history enthusiasts is THE ROMA VICTRIX WINE BEAKERCalix 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.

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

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.

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 highly recommend this book to all aficionados, and anyone remotely interested in Roman military history.
To Ron Peake, Ad Victorem spolias.
 Calix Imperium, Roma Victrix Pewter wine beaker
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
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.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on 11 May 2012
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.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 15 August 2013
I have no idea how I missed this book and the others that follow in the series, especially as I read everything I can in this genre. However, I've found them now and all I can say is WOW, well done Ron on producing a truly epic read. As a former serviceman myself of twenty five years (got my citizenship), I can really identify with the characters and atmosphere that are created in this wonderfully crafted book.

I began reading Marching With Caesar one Friday night after work at about 6pm and before I knew it, it was nearly 1am, where the time went I just have no idea. What is blatantly apparent when reading this book is the amount of study that went into it before the author even put pen to paper or finger to keypad more likely, which is paramount when being a product of this nature for it to be credible. Then I found out that Ron had dressed as a Roman legionary just to get a feel for how they felt, fantastic.

Within the bigger picture in this book is the minute detail of what it was like to be a legionary, the equipment they carried, the food they ate, what it was like to live in a tent party, the weapons they used and how they felt when facing death or a battle that they knew they may not live through. A lot of authors merely write about these things but as a former US Marine, Ron can tell you what it's like and it's something else I can relate to.

Kudos to you Mr Peake and I salute you for your efforts, determination and a writing triumph, now I've got to get hold of book two.

John Salter
Author of Blood of Rome: Caratacus.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 7 December 2012
The perfect gift for all Roman history enthusiasts is THE ROMA VICTRIX WINE BEAKERCalix 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.

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.

The perfect companion to this excellent work is: THE ROMA VICTRIX WINE BEAKERCalix Imperium, Roma Victrix Pewter 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!
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 24 May 2012
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.
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You know those documentaries on History channel, where a narrator speaks fluidly and you are mesmerized by images of war, bloodshed and hardships of the past. This book is just like that and even better.

You will need time and lots of time to get through this book. It is lengthy but once you are into it, you are akin to a spectator as the events unfold in front of you.

The writing is flawless and while adjectives are abundant, if you were to remove them, the sentences may not flow as well as it does.

The historical timeline is as accurate as it can be which momentarily makes it seem that you are reading an extremely interesting history book instead of historical fiction.

I applaud the author for this magnificent piece.

Would I recommend this read? Oh so definitely.

Overall assessment:
Content: 5/5
Editing: 4.5/5
Formatting: 4.5/5
Pacing: 5/5
Offensive content?: I would rate it PG to PG13. There is a bit of violent imagery that I would not recommend to any child 10 and younger.

Disclosure: I received a review copy of this book from the author through Orangeberry Book Tours. I did not receive any payment in exchange for this review nor was I obligated to write a positive one.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on 26 April 2012
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.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 17 November 2012
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.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 9 June 2012
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.
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