Delacorte, Jan 2003, 24.95, 357 pp.
The mighty legions of Rome have extended the widening concentric power way beyond the political control of the ruling body, the Senate. Instead, the Generals of the conquering armies rule over the captured lands. The Roman leadership understands the need for a single Caesar with dictatorial authority to establish order so that the center holds.
The current prime competitors for the job are Generals Marius and Sulla, both successful with their annexation campaigns. The Senate vacillates and civil war breaks out between the two legions with Sulla forcing Marius to retreat. However, Sulla returns to Greece to put down a rebellion, which allows Marius to triumphantly enter Rome and order the Senate to do his bidding. Watching his Uncle Marius' stratagem is his nephew Gaius who learns one key lesson to trust nobody, even though he allows his beloved childhood best buddy to remain close to him.
Though anachronisms even noticed by this Shakespearean-based Ancient Roman buff will upset the purists, historical fiction readers will enjoy this deep look at Rome just before the rise of Julius Caesar. The thrilling story line is loaded with a feel for the Marius-Sulla rivalry and contains an intriguing spin (at least for us tyros) that sets the stage for the next volume. The audience obtains a robust look at key real life persons in their environs several of who could have served as role models for Machiavelli. Genre fans will take much delight with EMPEROR THE GATES OF ROME even those who knew before the climax the final turn of the chariot as Conn Igguldon spins a deep enthralling depiction.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner