Customer Review

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Weak on Spain, excellent on Gallic Wars, 1 Nov. 2011
This review is from: The Field of Swords (Emperor Series, Book 3) (Paperback)
Conn Iggulden liberally rewrites history in order to increase the dramatic impact of his novels. That's fair enough, but sometimes it seems that his liberties with known history are unnecessary. As another critic has pointed out, what did he gain by ignoring Cicero's role in the thwarting of the Cataline Conspiracy? But enough said on that. My main gripe with this book is that the first two hundred pages (mainly about Caesar in Spain) were rather tedious and irrelevant and I found the arrival of Servilia with a troupe of prostitutes irritating and schoolboyish. My other problem with Iggulden is his writing style which has a certain laziness, for example he uses the word "chuckle" repeatedly and inappropriately. (Has he actually ever heard anyone chuckle their words? I don't think I have.)
However, leaving aside the negatives, I must confess I absolutely loved the account of Caesar's Gallic Wars. This is Iggulden at his best with plenty of good historical detail and, perhaps more importantly, and understanding of the psychology of the Gauls, combined with respect and sympathy for their plight when confronted by the remorseless Caesar. Vercingetorix gets a fine cameo role. (After Vercingetorix surrenders, Caesar rather unsportingly keeps him prisoner for five years before having him strangled as part of his Triumph. This is not mentioned in this book although it might be in the next one.)
Caesar's detour into Britain in 55 and 54 BC is vividly described and gives an understanding of just how difficult it is to invade an island.
To summarise, this is a very readable and entertaining book which captures the character and ambition of Caesar, but which contains too many imperfections of style and detail to be recommended unreservedly.
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