Emperor: The Field of Swords by Conn Iggulden

(Cover picture courtesy of GetGlue.)

For Julius Caesar, the time has come to enter the political battleground that has become Rome.  Having proved his valor in the slaves’ revolt, Caesar is strengthened by the love of a beautiful older woman—and by the sword of his loyal friend Marcus Brutus.  But it is Caesar’s next move that will change history.  With an army made in his own image, Caesar begins a daring charge through Gaul, across the English Channel, and to the wilds of tribal Britain.

Here, in a series of cataclysmic clashes, the legend of Julius Caesar will be forged.  And while Caesar and Brutus battle the armies of the wilderness, their political adversaries in Rome grow ever more powerful.  For when the fighting is over, the greatest danger to Julius Caesar will await him on the Tiber—with a man who wants Rome himself.

The Field of Swords is truly riveting historical fiction of the first order and Conn Iggulden managed to write it without changing history around as much.  Surprisingly, the third book in his Emperor series is my favourite out of all four because it is by far the most exciting in terms of plot and character development.  It covers the most famous part of Caesar’s life: the Gallic Wars.

War is one of my favourite parts of historical fiction because of all the details of ancient warfare fascinate me.  History textbooks do not even begin to cover how physically, mentally and emotionally draining it was on the men and those who had to lead them.  Warfare was not a glorious event and Iggulden perfectly hammers this point home.

I absolutely love the character development in this book.  Caesar becomes more independent as all of his old tutors and friends die off, leaving him with Brutus as his only friend.  How could his only friend orchestrate Caesar’s death?  Well, there is a very telling scene near the end of the book when Caesar suffers from an epileptic fit and is unable to lead his men in battle.  Brutus dons Caesar’s armour and leads his men into battle.

“You led them?”  Julius said.  Though his voice was strengthening, he still seemed confused.

“No Julius.  They followed you.”

Thus the seeds of jealousy were planted in Brutus’ heart.

I give this book 4.5/5 stars.

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  1. Andrew Levkoff

    Haven’t read the book, but curious to know if he covers Publius Crassus’ role in Gaul and if the author explains how a 23-year-old commander basically conquered Aquitania with no help from his general.

    • Carrie Slager

      Well, you certainly know your Roman history! Yes, it does have Publius Crassus playing a minor role, but his pacification of Aquitania is barely mentioned. The story is mainly told from Caesar’s perspective, with Brutus, Servilia, Alexandria and a few others getting a little bit of page time.

      • Andrew Levkoff

        I’m writing a series of historical novels on his father, Marcus Licinius Crassus, the one who suffered that terrible defeat in Parthia. Where, in fact, both father and son are killed. The first is out already, but I’m afraid Book I of The Bow of Heaven does not paint Caesar with a very kind brush. Thanks for getting back to me, Andy

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