Grab your toga, your sandals and a jug of your favorite wine – we’re going back to ancient Rome. Bring your imagination too – this fictitious account of Gaius Caesar’s life as a young boy up until the time he becomes a professional soldier, is loosely based on the life and times of Julius Caesar and his buddy, Marcus (better known as Brutus).
I mention this important distinction because, after reading reviews of this book on Amazon.com, it is apparent that many of the reviewers were miffed at what they call “bad history”. One particularly unhappy reviewer stated, “I realize historical fiction bends the truth, but this was just plain horrible. Even worse, people will read this and think that it’s true because they don’t know any better.”
Ouch. Art thou calling me a plebeian?
I think that there is a difference between not knowing any better and not really caring because it’s clearly labeled as FICTION. I wouldn’t write a historical thesis on the life and times of Julius Caesar based on this book – even a commoner like myself knows better than that. I read books because they capture my imagination, not because they are necessarily historically accurate.
Let’s quote another reviewer, shall we? This one states, “Even children’s books on this subject matter reveal these gross errors in history.” This reader apparently has his toga in a wad because Iggulden shouldn’t have pretended that this book was about Caesar. To which I say, who cares? If I wanted to read about the historical Caesar, I would have gone to the biography section and found a long, dry tome about the political climate of Caesar, his life and his the state of the Republic of Rome (see also, Rome, History, Republic 265-30 B.C.).
For the record, I thought that “The Gates of Rome” was an interesting glimpse at life in ancient Rome. It was something different, the reader for the audiobook (Robert Glenister) was very talented, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. There are three more books in this series, to which I say ‘exquisitus’ and more wine!