- The Gates of Rome
infobox Book |
name = The Gates of Rome
image_caption = "The Gates of Rome" first edition cover.
language = English
series = "Emperor" series
release_date = January 6, 2003
media_type = Print (Hardback &
pages = 416 pp "(first edition)"
isbn = ISBN 0007136897
The Death of Kings
"The Gates Of Rome" is the first
novelin the Emperor series, written by author Conn Iggulden. The series is historical fictionfollowing the life of Julius Caesar.
The first book in the series introduces two young Romans: Gaius (Gaius Julius Caesar), son of a senator and born of noble-blood, and blood-friend Marcus (
Marcus Junius Brutus), son of a high-class prostitute( Servilia Caepionis).
It tells of the harsh realities of life in the
Ancient Rome, not only for the "nobilitas" but also for the slave population, who revolt and kill Gaius' father during a siege on their villa.
As the two boys begin their careers (Gaius as a senator and Marcus as a legionary), a political war is being played out in the senate, between two powerful Generals:
Cornelius Sullaand Gaius' uncle Gaius Marius.
Emperor: The Gates of Rome, is about the youth of
Gaius Julius Caesar. It starts with Gaius Julius Caesar and Marcus Brutus, who is adopted by Gaius’ parents. The two young boys grow up with each other and have a deep ongoing friendship for one another. When they are old enough to participate in the legions, Gaius’ father hires the best trainer he can find for them, Renius an old gladiatorwho has never been beaten. Though he helps them master the art of the blade, it’s not without pain; they almost end up being drowned and even killed. Near the end of their training, Gaius is seriously injured by Renius in a training accident, but is saved by the nomadic Cabera, an old man of many talents, healing and archery amongst them. Marcus then proceeds to try his hand at the gladius and cuts Renius's arm.A few days later, a slave revolt erupts in Rome and spreads to the estates. The Ceasar estate is hard pressed. Gaius's father is lost in battle as wave after wave of rogue slaves attempt to storm the main compound of the estate. Both boys are injured in the fight, Marcus due to being almost overrun and watching for Renius, and Gaius because he was still weak. Tubruk, the estate manager and former gladiator (also once trained by Renius) is also hurt.
Afterwards Gaius formally assumes his father's name Julius. To avoid getting his lands and holding taken from him due to inexperience, Julius decides to cast his lot in with his mother's brother. Thereafter, Gaius gets to know his uncle Marius better who is one of the consuls of Rome.
Sullaalso wants the same position, but Marius forms a plot which sends Sullaoff to Greece to put a stop to a rebellion there. During this time of peace, Gaius lives the good wealthy life a young man in Rome, visiting every party possible, while Marcus, with recommendations from Marius, gets a position in a legion, which gets send off to the outer eastern border of the Roman Empire. Julius even weds the Cornelia Cinna days before the event which is described in detail hearafter.
Months later Sulla gets back from a glorious victory in Greece (against
Mithridates, "a Greek general, who has taken one of our cities", according to the book!!!) but Marius has declared the general to be a traitor and thus an enemy of Rome. Marius needs to defend Rome with his own legion while Sulla tries to conquer it with the army he has taken to Greece. Marius is defeated due to a scheme of Sulla: he infiltrated Rome and sent his men to charge Marius from behind when he was preoccupied and ill-guarded. Marius' holdings are seized, his legion disgraced and disbanded, and his wife commits suicide, but not before freeing Alexandria, the Julius household slave of whom ownership Julius passed to Marius. At the very end of the book, Sulla sits at a throne as the newly-appointed dictator of Rome, having Julius brought before him after having other of Marius men tortured and executed. Sulla offers to spare his life, only if he swears allegiance to him, and divorce Cornelia. Caesar refuses, claiming "just let it end". Impressed by the young man's boldness and total loss of fear of death, Sulla orders his release, and banishes him from the city, later claiming to a henceman that "he reminds me too much of myself" and "there might as well be two of Marius in him". Julius leaves Rome with nothing left, going to Egypt to start a new career, far away from his enemy, but swearing to return once he has made himself a name to revenge his uncle. Meanwhile, Marcus has made quite a career with the Balkan rebels, and upon signing a new contract, he is forced to leave his full name. Marcus signs " Marcus Brutus" and shake the centurions hand, answering: "A good choice, Brutus".
Literary significance & criticism
At times, Iggulden drifts away from historical accuracy for the purposes of storytelling, especially where the war between Marius and Sulla is concerned where fantasy is entered into, although he does explain his reason in an Historical Note at the end of the book. His main defence is that we don't have enough historical information especially of Caesar's childhood but still he makes huge compromises. For example in his book Caesar is the only child, when actually he had 2 sisters.
The tagline on the front of the paperback version of "Gates of Rome" read:
"If you liked Gladiator you'll love Emperor" - Sunday Times"
Excellent reviews helped "Gates of Rome" reach number two in the Sunday Times Best-seller list.
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