Emperor (novel series)
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Emperor is an internationally acclaimed historical five-novel series by British author Conn Iggulden about the life of Roman statesman and general Gaius Julius Caesar. The five novels were published between 2003 and 2013:
- The Gates of Rome - released 2003;
- The Death of Kings - released early 2004;
- The Field of Swords - released late 2004;
- The Gods of War - released 2005;
- The Blood of Gods - released May 2013.
The series was well received by many critics, but also drew comment that Iggulden sometimes changed historical facts either through ignorance or in order to create a more thrilling narrative. This is partly acknowledged by Iggulden, and noted at the end of every novel. The most notable change in the main plot features Caesar and Brutus growing up as childhood friends (Brutus was in reality 15 years younger than Caesar and sometimes rumoured to be his son, though this is unlikely). This gives the series some complexities similar to the movie 1900, in which two boys who grow up together are shaped by their differences, culminating in diverging destinies on the Ides of March.
Apart from Caesar and Brutus, historical characters include: Gaius Marius, Cornelius Sulla, Mithridates VI of Pontus (who is described as "a Greek general"), Cinna, Cornelia, Pompey, Crassus, Cato the Younger, Spartacus, Crixus, Brutus' mother Servilia, Octavian and his mother Atia, Titus Annius Milo, Publius Clodius Pulcher, Vercingetorix, Marcus Calpurnius Bibulus, Lucius Sergius Catilina, Mark Antony, and Cleopatra VII of Egypt, who gives Caesar a son.
The book series is being adapted into a movie trilogy to be directed by Burr Steers. The first movie of the trilogy, Emperor: Young Caesar will be based upon the first two books.
- The Gates of Rome - spanning from 92 BC to 82 BC (Caesar at eight years of age to the victory of Sulla). Caesar grows up with his childhood friend Marcus outside Rome, terrorized by the slightly older chubby neighbor Suetonius Prandus. Caesar and Marcus are trained to be warriors under the tutelage of ex-gladiator and soldier Renius. After Caesar's father and others are killed in a slave revolt, the children go to Rome to join Caesar's uncle (in reality not related by blood) Gaius Marius and the populares faction. Marius, who is consul, is waging a political war against the conservative optimates led by Cornelius Sulla, the main antagonist. After a triumph celebrating Marius' victory over African tribes, Sulla sails off to Asia Minor to fight King Mithridates VI of Pontus. Meanwhile, Marius takes possession of Rome and Caesar falls in love with Cornelia, daughter of a popular. Marcus goes to Macedon to join a legion as he is, by his non-noble birth, not in position to become a senator. Upon Sulla's return, civil war rages (historically, though simplified) between him and Marius. By having left soldiers in Rome, Sulla succeeds in capturing the city and kills Marius when he refuses to surrender. By his dying breath, Marius asks his loyal men to defeat Sulla. After days of tough street-fighting in which Caesar is captured, Sulla emerges victor and is proclaimed dictator. He asks Caesar to join him, threatening him with torture and death if he refuses. Upon seeing the young man irresistibly wanting to turn his back on his dead uncle, Sulla lets him go. Forced to flee Rome, Caesar does so and joins the navy to go to Egypt. Meanwhile, Marcus has been victorious in campaigns against barbarians and has opted to lengthen his contract. He does so, and when asked to sign his name, reveals the surname Brutus (Marcus Brutus). The book closes with Brutus being praised for his great valor.
- The Death of Kings - spanning from 81 BC to 71 BC (Cornelia's pregnancy to the defeat of Spartacus). Opening in the Aegean Sea, Caesar leads a group of men to attack a rebellious fortress in Mytilene (historical) and he is saluted for his courage. Meanwhile, Brutus is forced to flee Greece upon having late meetings with a young woman. Accompanied by cruel but magnificent gladiator Renius, he sets off to Rome. Meanwhile, Cornelia is terrified as Sulla haunts her. Upon raping her on the night where her and Caesar's daughter Julia is born, Caesar and Brutus' friend Tubruk (caretaker of Caesar's estate when they were young) kills Sulla and manages to escape uncaught though others are tortured and killed. Caesar is caught by pirates and forced to ransom 20 talents. He suggests 50 instead, and upon being released on the African coast he builds up a minor army, manages to find the pirate in Greece and takes revenge. Upon landing in Greece, he finds out Sulla is dead and decides to go home. Meanwhile, defeated but surviving, Mithridates makes war yet again against Rome and Caesar goes into battle with him, managing to defeat and kill the king (the title of the book, suggesting Sulla and Mithridates. This event is fictitious as Mithridates was historically defeated by Pompey and committed suicide more than ten years later.) Upon returning to Rome, Caesar rises as a lawyer and manages to claim Marius' old house and send the optimate housed in it (Antonidus) into slavery, making enemies among the optimates. Upon the rebellion of Spartacus, Caesar follows Pompey while Crassus rallies the troops and hunts down the slave army. Cato, who secretly had Pompey's daughter killed as revenge for Sulla, now lets murderers kill Cornelia and Caesar returns in sorrow to Rome. Upon tracking down the assassin, Pompey kills him and Cato. Crassus builds a wall to trap the slaves on the coast. Caesar goes out to fight the last battle, depressed but encouraged by old friend Cabera, a healer and friend of Renius. Spartacus fights the last battle against Pompey and, seeing his slaves are defeated, he puts on his helmet, grasps his sword and charges into the battle, predicting Rome will fall one day. The book closes with Crassus and Pompey riding along the Via Appia towards Rome, passing six thousand crucified slaves. The two have been assuming power and, having exiled Caesar to Hispania, enter the city, with Pompey believing Caesar will be no more than the man who he already is.
- The Field of Swords - spanning from 67 BC to 49 BC (Four years after the defeat of Spartacus to the crossing of the Rubicon). Caesar is in Spain, still depressed after his wife's death and with no plans of further advancement. Pompey and Crassus rule Rome as consuls, while Brutus's mother Servilia travels to Spain to meet her son. Caesar goes out to ride with her and they fall in love, dividing Brutus and Caesar for the first time as Brutus unintentionally sees his mother and best friend in bed together. Soon returning to Rome, Caesar rallies to become consul but is disturbed as Crassus reveals a conspiracy to him, led by the insurgent Catiline. Taking his Tenth legion (originally created by Brutus as Caesar was in Greece), Caesar defeats Catiline, whose supporters are brutally executed by Pompey. Confronting Crassus, Caesar reveals that he knew Crassus was the mastermind of the whole conspiracy, yet no others, including Pompey, know this. After becoming consul, Caesar goes to Gaul to fight an eight-year war, spanning half the book. After finally defeating the Gaulish high king Vercingetorix, where his old friend Renius dies in battle and Cabera shortly before, prophesying he saw Caesar fall on the Ides of March in Rome. After bloody battles between street gangsters Clodius and Milo, burning down half the city and killing them both, Pompey assumes power and is proclaimed dictator. With only him and Caesar left, he orders Caesar dead by a spy who refuses to carry out the assassination and also warns Caesar not to go into Rome alone as Pompey would want him dead. Standing at the Rubicon, Brutus says Caesar will always be his friend and have his support, whether they should invade Italy or go hide forever in Gaul. Uttering "the die is cast", Caesar crosses the river and goes to Rome.
- The Gods of War - spanning from 49 BC to 44 BC (the crossing of the Rubicon to assassination on the Ides of March). Pompey flees Italy as his troops are insufficient. Caesar takes the city, saying he is no tyrant nor dictator and just wants to purify Rome from men such as Pompey. As he finds himself ignored, Brutus joins the hot tub party with Pompey instead. Ultimately going to fight him in Greece, Caesar is defeated by his once-friend Pompey at Dyrrhachium but takes revenge at Pharsalus where he reunites with Brutus, though the latter won't forgive him. They follow Pompey to Egypt to receive his head and is soon caught in battle between Cleopatra and her brother Ptolemy. Upon sleeping with Cleopatra, Caesar joins her party and captures Ptolemy. As he is released, Caesar is besieged but manages to defeat Ptolemy's troops along with his minister Panek (historically Pothinus). After a romantic trip to the Nile and the birth of Caesar's only son, he returns to Rome but once again disagrees with Brutus, as the latter wants to preserve the republic. Brutus, encouraged by his mother, passes from ignoring Caesar to join Cassius and Suetonius Prandus to have Caesar killed. Going alone to the Senate on the Ides of March, Caesar is attacked and asks Brutus to kill him as he never wanted his old friend as an enemy. The senators kill Caesar and then stumble out on the streets of Rome.
- The Blood of Gods - spanning the period 44 BC to 42 BC, the assassination of Julius Caesar to the Battle of Philippi, with a postscript about the death of Octavian (Emperor Augustus in AD 14).