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4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 21 February 2007
There's a 5 year gap between the end of the last novel in this 6 book series (Caesar's Women) and this one: Caesar is in Gaul, and finds his ties in Rome being cut. Instead he throws himself into the Gallic campaigns which are described in minute and enthralling detail (based on Caesar's own commentaries).

I don't know how McCullough does it, but she manages to render military campaigns, legion's rebellions etc absolutely fascinating! This isn't by any means an objective look at either Caesar or Roman imperialism, and she is unashamedly on Caesar's side, but somehow it works fabulously.

Back in Rome the Senate led by the vacillating Cicero and neurotic Cato and undermining Caesar, and the book leads inevitably and inexorably to Caear's crossing of the Rubicon.

I can't praise this book enought - not as history (which it doesn't purport to be, though it does stick to the sources - albeit in an interpretative way) but as sheer story-telling.
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Things have finally reached boiling point in Rome accentuated by the absence of the First Man, Julius Caesar. His violent campaigns against the Gauls which cause the rising under Vercingetorix place both wealth and loyal legions in his hands. The optimate opposition in Rome see the risks but perceive themselves as powerful enough to treat Caesar badly and manoeuvre Pompey into being their stalking horse. By this stage in Colleen McCullough's series we are heading into the better known areas of Roman history, but the story continues to have pace and drive.
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on 14 August 2003
I agree utterly, a_mccormack, about the spell-checking issue ... a shame, as it occasionally distracted me from what is once again a first-rate book. Caesar's brilliant Gallic campaigns are described with exactly the right amount of detail; enough to immerse, but not enough to overwhelm. The ongoing development of GJC is fascinating, as is the depiction of the boni (am I the only person who wishes she could travel back in time and strangle Cato and Bibulus? And even dear Magnus too?) and their machinations. The reader is once again placed firmly on Caesar's side, and that is no bad thing. Roll on the paperback version of The October Horse!
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on 14 December 1999
A gripping read. McCullough never seems to put a foot wrong in her 'Masters of Rome' books. The obvious result of much research melded with fiction that wouldn't let you put the book down........ except for the numerous 'wrong words' in the text (paperback) that appear to have been 'corrected' by an errant spell checker. So distracting and annoying that the book hit the wall twice and lost 2 stars! I can't wait for 'The October Horse' but I hope the publishers employ a proof reader!
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on 11 October 2000
I found this, and the whole series, another superb piece. Her work tends to be sometimes too informative for fiction, and Caesar is so perfect as to be unreal, but then he was probably the most extraordinary man who ever lived. The whole series is brilliant from start to finish and cannot be faulted for content. Perhaps fiction is sacrificed to fact, but I prefer that to cavalier use of anachronism and twisting of facts. Brilliant. Can't wait for the final volume.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 14 September 2011
This book covers Caesar in his prime, first in the conquest of Gaul and then in the Civil War with Pompey. To my amazement, I have not tired one bit of this series and simply couldn't stop reading this one.
In this volume, the author concentrates on Caesar's action and military techniques and they are indeed fascinating. For example, in the siege of Alesia, Caesar faced threats from within the citadel and from far vaster forces without, at his flank. SO he built a kind of defensive/offensive plankway - a ring around the citadel that could be attacked and defended from both sides and starved the occupants out while holding off hostile reinforcements. This was totally new in military history, as McCUllough explians in vivid detail and action. Though I have never been one to enjoy military history, I found myself cheering for Caesar and in awe of his creativity.

Much less is devoted in this volume to who Caesar was and why he did what he did, which were explored in the earlier volumes. Nonetheless, the personalities of his assistants - the cruel Labienus, the indolent yet growing Anthony (and his huge crotch) and at least a score of others - come through in great detail and with remarkable historical accuracy. The reader is treated to how Caesar managed them all. THe counterpoint of this volume is Pompey the Great, whose flaws and pretentions are magnified with age. While I was less convinced by this portrait, it is still very interesting. FInally, the portrait of the Gauls (and their brash leader Vercingetorix) is very well drawn and informative, as is the portrayal of the young Cleopatra struggling to maintain herself on the throne.

As I have said before, the measure of success for me is that I want to go back to the classical sources to learn more. Warmly recommended, both for the action and for the learning about vanished worlds.
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on 4 May 2015
Again the political intrigue was more fascinating than I wanted it to be. Unable to keep track of many of the characters involved but this is due to my age more than anything. Caesar is indeed a God on Earth. He embodies all the manly virtues but wears them without arrogance. He exudes a power that, at this stage, he wields in a responsible and moral manner. As his power grows will he become like Gaius Marius or Sulla. Will power consume and corrupt him till he believes that his dictatorship will be the best way forward for Rome. I cannot bear to move on to the next book at this stage. Colleen McCullough exhausts me.
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on 25 October 2007
I've had the pleasure of reading all the Masters of Rome series in order one after the other and I've found it a wonderful experience! I love McCullough's style of writing - she makes the whole period come to life and manages to get some great history into her work. Its obvious she's done tremendous research for all these books.

It's also obvious that she's very much in love with Caesar! I'd agree that he was an amazing human being - no doubt - but I have to say I could fall for McCullough's version of him myself - although I doubt he was as squeaky clean as she portrays him!!!

Highly recommended for anyone interested in the Roman republic and in politics in general.
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on 27 February 2015
Colleen McCullough is an amazing writer and was able to breathe new fire into known ancient historical events, filling the gaps in the dry facts with passion, emotions and other expressions of the human condition.

I read every book in the series, and was captured in the world Dr. McCullough had woven. When I was done, I was so sad that the adventure was over.
I would love to read any historical novel written by Dr. McCullough, and I recommend this series to anyone who likes classic civilizations, and historical novels.
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on 2 March 2014
Having read all the books in the "Masters of Rome" series...many of which I obtained when in USA due to lack of availability here in UK I was really pleased to see them on the Kindle at last and bought the lot which I am happily reading in sequence....Caesar like all the books can be read as a stand alone book but its is far better to read in sequence...What Mz McCullough has done is Novelized History and brought the people who lived then and the events back to life...Novelizing History is only ok IF as Mz McCullough has done ensured that the timelines and the events as well as customs & Laws of the time are adhered fact I could recommend any serious student of the history of Rome to read these novels as they give a very accurate description of events that led Rome from being a republic and how individuals came to the forefront such as Julius Caesar, Pompey etc to end up with an Emperor.
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