Emperor: The Gods of War by Conn Iggulden

(Cover picture courtesy of Whitcoulls Ebooks.)

The year is 53 B.C.  Julius Ceasar approaches his final destiny—a destiny that will be decided not by legions but by his friend Brutus and a bewitching Egyptian queen named Cleopatra.

Fresh from victory in Gaul, Julius Caesar leads his battle-hardened legions across the Rubicon.  The armies of Rome will face each other at last in civil war, led by the two greatest generals ever to walk the seven hills.

From the spectacles of the arena to the whispered lies of conspirators, Conn Iggulden brings to life a world marked by fierce loyalty and bitter betrayal, with dark events shrouded in noble ideas.

Emperor: The Gods of War was my introduction to both Conn Iggulden and the world of Gaius Julius Caesar, despite the fact that this book is the fourth (and last) book in the Emperor series.  My mother had bought it for me for my birthday one year and she is notoriously bad at finding the first book in a series.  Nevertheless, I read it and it left quite the impression on me.

The Gods of War is the most exciting book in the series and is an example of Conn Iggulden at his finest.  Love, lust, friendship, loyalty and betrayal are all prominent themes and they are what make reading this book a cinematic experience.  I vote for the Emperor series to be the next series adapted into movies because the screenwriters would not even have to alter the story very much.  The characters are larger than life and there’s hardly ever a dull scene.

Conn Iggulden really brings his characters to life, thus making history a bit more accessible to the average modern reader.  He generally sticks to the facts of historical events, but what sets his books apart is the fact that he assigns realistic motivations to the people behind these events, particularly Caesar.  When he writes, it feels like he was really at these events and knew the people that caused them.  One scene in particular stands out in my mind, when Brutus complains to his mother, Servilia, that Julius overshadows him:

“I am the best of my generation, Mother.  I could have ruled.  But I had the misfortune to be born to a Rome with Julius in it.  I have suffered it for years.  I have pledged my life to him and he cannot see it.”

She pulled back from him at last and shook her head.  “You’re too proud, Brutus.  Even for a son of mine you are too proud.”

I think Iggulden hit the nail on the head with that scene, which of course leads up to the infamous Ides of March.

I give this book 4.5/5 stars.

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  1. Dejan Prokic

    This was the best book in the Rome series. It was also the only book to ever make this grown man cry! I look up to Iggulden as I write my own historical fiction novel 😀

    • Carrie Slager

      Yeah, The Gods of War was pretty emotional. Especially since it was Brutus behind the whole Ides of March thing, despite the clemency Caesar gave him after the battle of Pharsalus.

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