The Gods of War by Conn Iggulden

Conn Iggulden’s final book in the Emperor Series, The Gods of War, is a fairly good ending to a fine series on the Roman times of Julius Caesar. Iggulden is a great storyteller who will keep you turning the pages of this book.

Here is a description of the book from the cover:

The year is 53 B.C. Fresh from victory in Gaul, Julius Caesar leads battle-hardened legions across the Rubicon river–threatening Rome herself. Even the master strategist Pompey is caught unprepared by the strike, and forced to abandon his city. 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. Thus begins Conn Iggulden’s towering saga of Julius Caesar as he approaches his final destiny—a destiny that will be decided not by legions but by his friend Brutus and an Egyptian queen named Cleopatra, who will bear his only son….

For Caesar, the campaign against Pompey will test his military genius and his appetite for glory to their limits, as the greatest fighting machine the world has ever seen divides against itself in a bloody conflict that will set brother against brother until victory or death. But for Caesar, another kingdom beckons—a world of ancient mysteries and languid sensuality, where a beautiful, bewitching woman waits to snare his heart.

The Gods of War follows Julius Caesar through politics and passion, ruthless ambition and private grief, and into the corruption of power itself. Those he has loved will play a part in his triumphs—as will the jealousy and hatred of his enemies.

From the spectacles of the arena to the whispered lies of conspirators, Conn Iggulden brings to life a world of monumental drama. And at its heart is one extraordinary friendship—marked by fierce loyalty and bitter betrayal, with dark events shrouded in noble ideals.

Although a little short on action, the book fully explores the complex relationship Caesar has with Brutus, Brutus’ mother, and Cleopatra. Iggulden attempts to write about why Brutus chose to betray Caesar and fight against him with Pompey in Greece. I think he does a thorough job in explaining that and why Caesar took him back after the defeat of Pompey’s forces.

I also think that Iggulden captures the brutality of the time. The viciousness of the two Romans sides is amazing – parallels can be drawn between this war and the American Civil War in the animosity between some on both sides. In addition, I think that he fully portrays Pompey’s temperament and personality – he thought nothing of torturing and killing to get what he wanted.

I feel that Iggulden may have spent too much time on the Greek campaign and too little time on Caesar’s time in Egypt and his return to Rome. In some places, Iggulden probably could have shortened the part of the book on Greece.

It probably could have been better, but it is a decent ending to a good book series.

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