Top critical review
4 people found this helpful
riddled with errors, not well written and boring
on 14 September 2013
I love the historical fiction genre and the Roman period in particular, with the late republic era a personal favourite, I have read Ceasar'sowntext, many historic novelson ancient Rome and its campaigns, and some actual historical reference texts, and was thus anxiously anticipating this one
what a dissapointment!
The author writeshe had an idea - because Ceasar wrote with political aims in mind, he must omitted some good advice he got from people around him, so he created a legion commander (legate) called Fronto, who is supposedly one of these brilliant military men history neglected. So far so good.
Who is Fronto? we don't know. Like the book as a whole, he has no context. We know nothing about his history, how he got to command the 10th legion, nothing until Ceasar is already with them in the field, except that he spent some time with Ceasar in Spain (before he was consul). No context is bad. Fronto is not an interesting character, however - not a good thing for a hero of aseries
we know he likes to drink - hedoes 3 things in life, participate in battles, talks with mates (fellow legates, centurions, ceasar and othe officers - almost never with regular legioneries), and drink wine. The author describes drinking much more than he does other activities, which would have been bad because readers of historical novels are probably not interested in roman AA, but is actually quite alright because the author describes battles ina boring, confused,confusing and inaccurate way.
the books is full of quite fantastic descriptions of battles and tactics - and riddled with errors
the author has the German barbarians attacking in a falanx, which the Romans cannot hurl Pila at because they ran too fast (!), but do break by paul-vaulting to the rear echelons.... the romans have the Germans "between hammer and anvil" - oh wait
but there is no anvil, just an assult from the front... the Romans are worried about their supplies - of Corn (introduced from the new world 1600 years or so later), Ceasar returns to Rome after the campain season is over - he could not do it in reality, and did not - he held pro-consular imperium and you cannot enter rome and have your imperium held - Ceasar actually did something like this after fighting in Spain - forgoing his pro-preatorian imperium (and his triumph) in order to enter Rome and be a candidate for consular elections, but not, as the author had us believe, after the first of one campaign seasons in Gaul.
All could perhaps havebeen excused had the plot been interesting, the battle and strategy and politics intriguing, as they musthavebeen in real life andare in other historical novels of even less interesting real and imaginary events in Roman history. But here they are not - no context, no strategic view,poor battle descriptions in the most part and instead of a legate hero enabling the reader to see the interesting bits of life of the commonsoldier as well as of the general, all we are left with is Fronto's per- and post-battle drinking
I really wanted to like "Marius's mules", and so I ambitterly disappointed and will not buy the other books in the series