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on 14 January 2014
Those of you who have read the previous volumes in this series may not find it hard to believe but I will say it anyway...they just keep getting better. The author left himself a considerable task at the end of book 4...to refresh your memory it is there that the main fictional character, Marcus Falerius Fronto, has a major falling out with his friend and commanding general, Gaius Julius Caesar. A rift so vast that Fronto leaves the army and spends the whole of book 5 dealing with personal issues while Caesar continues his quest without one of his most trusted advisers and tacticians. Getting them back together did not seem possible but Simon is nothing if he isn't a resourceful writer.

Their reunion, put forward by none other than Marcus Antonious, is not an easy one and that is one reason why this book is such a great read. Nothing is easy...Simon could have had them patch up, shake hands and gone forward right from the beginning of the reunion but that would be too easy and a bit of a boring letdown. I will say no more lest I give away too much. The main plots are, for Caesar, the death of Ambiorix, the Eburone King who was responsible for the destruction of two legions and for Fronto, the return to the fold and command of a legion. Of course, those two aspects of the story are intertwined, converging like two tributaries to the Rhenus and becoming one in the end.

The continued development of the main characters is an ever constant need and has become a strength of the author. I especially enjoyed the progress of some of the main characters such as:
Caesar - much more human/not the above the fray-confident specimen he is often portrayed as...his conversations with Fronto especially are very telling and interesting
Labienus - another example of a differing representation - not a madman bent on outdoing Caesar
Antonius - now, he is larger than life...imagine Richard Burton meets James Purefoy
Fronto - he has been many things in this series and has grown with it...seeing him as commander of a Navy Seal like operation was well done...
On the fringe and just waiting to burst on the scene is that ever popular Gaulish rebel, Vercingetorix...his brief appearances here leaves one with the impression that he could be the most formidable foe yet to take on Caesar and Fronto.
I throw 5 stars at Simon Turney for yet again turning it up a notch. Now get to work on Alesia. :-)
About the author:
I live with my wife, my slightly barmy son and very vocal daughter, and two (close approximations of) dogs in rural North Yorkshire, where my wife and I both grew up, surrounded by friends and family. A born and bred Yorkshireman with a love of country, I cannot envisage spending my life anywhere else, though my anchor is sometimes tested as the wanderlust hits and we travel wherever I can find the breathtaking remains of the classical world. I have a love of travel and history, architecture and writing and those four interact well enough to keep me almost permanently busy.

Since leaving school and University, I have tried a great number of careers, including car sales, insurance, software engineering, computer network management, civil service and even paint ing and decorating sales. I have lived in four counties and travelled as widely as time and budget allowed and find myself, on the cusp of my fortieth year, back where I began and finally doing something I love.

Having written a number of unpublished short stories in my early days, I decided back in 2003 to try and write a full length novel. That was the start of Marius' Mules. Being a lover of Roman history, I decided to combine my love of writing and my love of classical history. Marius' Mules was followed two years later by Interregnum, my attempt to create a new fantasy story still with a heavy flavour of Rome. Since then, the success and popularity of both have inflated my head so that I can no longer comfortably fit through doors, and has spawned sequels to each work, with a third in the fantasy series and the sixth Marius' Mules now complete, as well as a series set in the 15th century Mediterranean.

I maintain another website detailing the Roman sites I visit and photograph, and write a blog about books. Find me on twitter as @sjaturney. I am an almost terminally chatty person. That's just a due warning if you feel like contacting me (see above.) I am always happy to speak to people and have put together an FAQ gathered together from things I have been asked previously. [...] [...]
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on 30 January 2014
This latest book is based around the time of Caesars commentaries, book 6. The offensive and near demise of the Belgic tribes who involved themselves in the previous years revolt, partly blamed on the leadership of Ambiorix.
Legate Fronto returns to Caesar campaigns after the loss of several senior Officers during the revolt. Unable to secure command of a Legion, Fronto is sent out with a group chosen men (Singulares or bodyguards) into the vast darkness and oppressive mysteries of the Ardennes forest to hunt for Ambiorox to avenge Caesars vow.
As the hunt goes on with its inevitable problems, obstacles and the likelihood that one of his group has been planted there for another greater purpose, the Legions set about putting down those tribes that turned on the alliance with Rome. The brutal way that this is carried out sows seeds discontent in the allied tribes which could become problematic later on in this continuing story.
As someone who loves reading about history and especially Caesars campaigns and life, I would advise reading the Marius Mules books from the start in order to get the full history lesson, which is well researched. I never believed I would find a character in the rank of a Legate as totally believable. But, Fronto goes from strength to strength and Simon Turney has made him into well believable hero of fiction. Not some upper class chinless wonder.
The books are very character based and the dialogue between them is both witty and to the point. It that well written that you can imagine being in the room and wanting to join in. Especially when the amphora of wine is offered around.
Another twist to this story is the subtle introduction to another fascinating character from this period - Vercingetorix.
As this story is being told, the largest confederation of tribes are secretly being stoked in the furnace of Gauls greatest uprising. The story will continue in MMVII. I for one can't wait.
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on 30 June 2014
Not started this one yet so I am unable to comment on this book.
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on 21 January 2015
Another ripping yarn of ambition, betrayal, murder, pitched battles, heroism, greed, sacrifice, severed limbs and a happy ending. SLA Turney throws everything but the kitchen sink into his Marius' Mules books and has the ability to combine fact with fiction to produce a well plotted story with interesting characters that makes it difficult to put your Kindle/paperback down. What more could you ask for? The hero, Fronto, returns to Caesar's army conquering Gaul and is initially pretty much ignored. One of Caesar's aims is to capture Ambiorix, a local king who had the nerve to slaughter a roman legion and put Caesar's reputation in Rome at risk. Eventually Fronto is allowed to take his newly formed band bodyguards on a roving mission to capture Ambiorix thus preventing Gaul becoming virtually uninhabited because the legions have turned all the local tribes into corpses or slaves. Events ensure that that everybody wins but everybody loses as well. I look forward to the next book and I'm sure you would too.
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on 9 August 2015
Unable to write a revue as marius' mules V1+V11 did not get downloaded to my Kindle - very dis appointing !
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on 20 September 2014
This is another good volume in the series. I won't go into details of the plot, but it is another gripping adventure for Fronto and his friends and enemies! The author has a clear grasp of the characters involved, and they continue to develop as the series progresses.
My one gripe about this episode - and the reason for only four stars - is that, for me, there were too many new characters introduced in this story. This meant that you hardly had time to work out who was who, before they started dying - or becoming very important, and you therefore did not have enough invested in them to care. I know that this was part of the point, because Fronto had the same problem, but for me, it meant less engagement than normal.
However, still a good read, and I'm very much looking forward to the next instalment.
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on 11 February 2014
A few books ago when Marius left Caesars service I thought the series had lost its way. Since then I have been proved wrong as each book goes from strength to strength. Gives a different point of view of Julius Caesar and all his peers without taking the good guy/bad guy get out. Battles, politics and even a little romance as we follow the cast through a crucial piece of western european history.
I have been annoyed at some series which seem to keep going after the story has been told but if the author can keep up this level of plot and characterisation then I would be happy to find Marius at Octavian's side, Who knows maybe it is him that deifies Octavian - but I doubt it knowing Marius !
Why the publishers didn't pick up on this one I don't know but, being purely selfish from a money point of view, I'm glad they didn't.
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on 29 January 2014
I came across this series searching generally on my Kindle and bought the first three or four on spec. It began pretty well and book by book just kept getting better. I've read all 6 end to end now and look forward the next. Turney's confidence has grown along with his literary instincts, ability and fine research, which sits lightly on the stories just as it should. He makes wise novelist choices yet stays well within the known history or the logic of the circumstances of what is unknown. His characters are nicely rounded and, simply put, the good guys are good company. Marius' Mules ticks all the boxes for an entertaining, intelligent, fictional military/historical series. It beats the pants off Sharpe and compares well with Patrick O'Brian's wonderful Aubery/Matuirn novels and even George MacDonald Fraser's delightful Flashman. I never thought I'd be saying that of a contemporary writer.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 23 January 2014
To be totally transparent, Simon is a friend, but that that said if one of his books was a dud then i would avoid reviewing it.
Marius Mules 6 is a long way from a dud, in fact its a clear sign that Simon has become on of the finest writers in Roman Fiction. His character Fronto has grown with every chapter of his tale, his plot construction has grown and developed to a level of skill and complexity that engage the reader and ensure you are on the edge of your seat from first page to the last.

For anyone who might think he is a one trick pony... try The Thief's Tale: 1 (The Ottoman Cycle) and some of his other books. Whats even more impressive is that to date he is still self published. (not for too much longer if the publishers have an sense) Until that date, Simon remains a writing machine, turning out several tales a year, and improving the quality of his craft with every one.

Fronto is back, and he is still a grumpy, clever, witty, Dangerous SOB.... don't miss the story!

Highly recommended
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on 24 February 2014
Another awesome book by Mr Turney. Simon has now mastered the art of starting slow then BANG, he hits you with a big punch and they just keep rolling in, in a manner very similar to Tony Riches books. This particular book must have been a difficult one to write, particularly when you look at the non-events of that particular year, but he has managed it in a way that wants you wishing 2014 was over so MMvii was on the shelves.

I've read all the big Roman authors, Mrs Kane, Scarrow, Iggulden, Saylor, Higginbotham, Jackson, Riches and Ms Scott (sorry if I missed anyone out), and Simon is a welcome addition to the #JAFRA brigade. Keep up the good work.
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