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  • Outstanding conclusion to the trilogy!!

    I have been looking forward to the conclusion of this trilogy ever since reading book one, and Gods of Rome finishes it off wonderfully. It is a true testament to the writers that while knowing the outcome at the beginning of book one, I still flew through this book rooting for the man I knew would lose the battle and the war. By not casting either Maxentius or Constantine as the hero or the villain, but just as men of their times, it allows you to understand how they ended up where there did. The best historical fiction opens a window that not only allows you an understanding of the events that occurred, but it gives you a connection to the people who lived at that time and this series does exactly that. Constantine's march on Rome, the planning, execution and use of his troops during battles is eye-opening to read, while also a horrifying look at the cost in lives. You also know the authors have done their jobs brilliantly when the first thing you do upon finishing is search all the main players in the story for more information about their lives and see just how far reaching their impact really was. You certainly do not have to have any background knowledge of this time to truly enjoy this series and learn a lot. I so thoroughly enjoyed this entire trilogy and cannot recommend it enough to anyone who is a fan of the time period or if you just want to learn more about these remarkable individuals.

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  • Brilliant

    Gods of Rome, Rise of Emperors by Simon Turney and Gordon Doherty, describes the monumental clash between Emperors Constantine and Maxentius, the winner taking control of the Western Roman Empire and Italy. This story takes place during 312 CE. I spend most of my time in antiquity mucking around with that crazy gang of Julio-Claudians, I now think I need to spend more time residing in the madness that is known as the Tetrarchy of the late 3rd and early 4th Centuries. Here we start with Constantine taking his armies from Britain and Gaul to invade Maxentius’ forces in Italy. Maxentius is a self-declared Emperor of Italy during the messy time of the post Diocletian Tetrarchy. Constantine’s forces are much smaller than Maxentius’ but far more loyal and battle hardened. He takes his legions through the Italian Alps and takes Turin, Milan, and the heavily fortified Verona. Maxentius’ forces are on the run and hightail back to Rome ready for a siege. In the meantime, Constantine takes forces through the Via Flaminia eventually leading to the Milvian Bridge (now destroyed) on the River Tiber. Maxentius inexplicably, leaves the safety of the walls of Rome to encounter Constantine in what is famously known as The Battle of the Milvian Bridge. This terrific story is not only a wonderfully detailed recounting of the military action and descriptions of the people making up the forces of each faction. But more importantly, it is the story of two men and their own personal struggles as human beings – each with relatives, wives, children, colleagues, allies and enemies within. The authors really put you in the place of each man, there is no attempt to make either on a hero nor a villain – I certainly went some way to feeling how they must’ve felt. Even just a little bit. We experience the tensions within their armies – particularly with the internal conflicts between those who have adopted the Christian Faith and those who follow the Pagan Gods of Traditional Rome. Each camp also has their fair share of treasonous members, some closer to home than one would think - Volusianus and Fausta - are classics in this regard. The action is brutal and realistic (lots of ‘puffs’ of red on impact), the fictional parts (where the authors need to fill-in due to a lack of historical evidence) are credible. In fact, the authors describe their reasoning behind some of the decisions they made in an excellent Epilogue. Turney used an Epilogue to do the same on the one other book I have read of his and it ties the story up very nicely. Of course, the focus here is the gigantic presence of Constantine – just prior to his ascension to Constantine I or Constantine the Great. The man who really brought Christianity to the Western World. Yes, there’s great debate about how he came about being a Christian and when – but regardless, he was tolerant of the faith, tolerant of all faiths in fact – and allowed the Church to thrive. A true giant of history. "The Gods are on the side of the strongest" Tacitus To make this a totally immersive Romatherapy experience, I concurrently read the relevant sections of Gibbons’ volumes 1 and 2 and listened to the appropriate episodes of the Podcasts "History of Rome" and "12 Byzantine Rulers". I recommend both wherever you cast your pods. I’ve had an absolute ball. For anyone interested in Historical Fiction of Ancient Rome, I can’t recommend these authors enough – they really do humanise the main characters and paint a vivid picture of the times. 5 Stars

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