The year is 58 BC. Centurion First Class Sextius Baculus, a 10-year, battle hardened army veteran is attending his sister’s wedding in Rome when he receives word that Julius Caesar’s army is mobilizing on the northern frontier near the France-Switzerland border to repel an anticipated invasion by expansonistic Gauls. Joined by his new orderly Marcus, the Centurion races north to join his unit, the 10th Legion, Caesar’s favorite. Fueled by political ambition and accompanied by his aide Quintus Caesar also speeds north. AT a changing station Caesar is attacked by deserters. The Centurion arrives and saves his life. In April Caesar fortifies Geneva where a prolonged, fierce battle is fought and eventually won by the Romans who thwart the numerically superior but tactically ignorant Gallic advance. Caesar continues his methodical advance into Gaul defeating one brave but unorganized tribe after the other. ALways outnumbered but never outgeneraled he engages in a series of set piece battles. In June there is combat at the Saone River and in July a decisive victory is won at Bibacte. The Centurion fights to keep himself and his orderly alive, recounting the battles vividly. We also get Caesar’s perspective of the same events as they unfold with calculating regularity. The army goes deep into Germany. The Centurion gets drunk and blurts out to Caesar that he knows why Caesar is making war. It is no longer to protect Rome but to strengthen Caesar’s own position against the other members of the ruling triumvirate in Rome. Fearing the Centurion will spread dissent and weaken morals Caesar uses him as bait in order to lure the Ariovistus-led Germans into a decisive battle at the Rhine River near Besncon in September. Captured, tortured and cricifies the Centurion is convinced he is doomed, especially when the defeated Germans drag him toward the river. If they manage to get him into Germany he will become a slave. Caesar rescues him at the last minute, repaying the debt he owes the Centurion.”
Format: Kindle Edition
If you loved HBO’s Rome and Starz’s Spartacus, you’re going to love this. This is a well-researched tale of army life under Caesar. You see it from the point of the centurion and Caesar, it’s really entertaining, it has a lot of violence (which I love). I only get pissed off when the writer stops himself from mentioning some atrocities. For example, he’ll say the barbarians committed horrible atrocities on the Roman dead, but he doesn’t mention which. However, I’ve read the entire series, and in spite of spelling mistakes and punctuation errors, it’s well-worth it.
on April 29, 2013
I decided to give the books I read a while ago the reviews they deserve and even though I have read them I keep them on my iPad as a reminder to leave a review. I read as many books about the Roman Legions as possible. Most of the authors have done their research and the books for the most part are well written, and this book is no exception. Centurian first class Sextius Baculus is called away from his leave to return to his unit because he was informed that Caesar is preparing for war. As he rushes to join his unit he stops at a way station just in time to find Caesar being attacked by deserters and he saves Caesar’s life thus forming a bond with the great general. The portrayal of Caesar seems to be right on the money. I read his commentaries and this book captures his personality and shows him as the brilliant strategist he was. If you enjoy books about the Roman Legions and/or Caesar, then you won’t go wrong reading this book especially since it’s priced right.
Interview with J.M.:
1. What prompted you to write your series?
I had the idea years ago & had an offer from a publisher who didn’t want to give me an advance, only a percentage of the royalties. I knew that never works out. Authors rarely see any money so I passed. Years later I did some research & discovered there were only a few people writing in my particular genre unlike the hundreds if not thousands who write in more popular genres. I read portions of their books & concluded there might be room for me because there were fewer competitors & I knew I could write just as well as they could.
2. What is your favorite genre to read and why?
I think that as we evolve & mature as people & writers our tastes evolve with us & perhaps get more refined. I have eclectic tastes & interests. Here’s a brief sampling: for mysteries you can’t go wrong with James M. Can, Raymond Chandler, Ross MacDonald (real name Kenneth Millar, a Canadian), George V. Higgins, Maj Sjowall/Per Wahloo, Jo Nesbo, Henning Mankell & Stieg Larsson. Some of my favorite authors that I read & reread are Louis-Ferdinand Celine, Andre Malraux, & Par Lagerkvist. Some of my favorite books are “Before the Deluge: A Portrait of Berlin in the 1920s” & “City of Nets: A Portrait of Hollywood in the 1940s” both by Otto Friedrich, “Everything is Cinema: The Working Life of Jean-Luc Godard” by Richard Brody (the definitive book on Godard by the way) & the rather prosaically titled “Chet Baker: His Life & Music” by Jeroen de Valk (also the definitive book on Baker who like myself is, or rather was because he’s dead, an autodidact & a Capricorn).
3. What inspires you to write?
This question is harder than it looks. Inspiration can only take you so far. As we know writing is damn hard work. There are almost constant distractions in various forms we have to overcome, our concentration levels are high & after a while we get worn out but somehow have to find the energy to push through. I write because it gives me freedom. I can never be fired. I’m my own boss & have a healthy fear of failure. With the advent of the Internet I could be answering these questions from Costa Rica, Berlin or anywhere & that’s fantastic. After I finish a book I’m mentally exhausted but at the same time a vacuum has been created & I have a need to fill that vacuum so I start another book after about 1 – 2 weeks. Or to answer the question another way, as James Boswell said in “The Life of Samuel Johnson,” “No man but a blockhead, ever wrote except for money.”
4. What are your favorites-food, color, activity, place?
Favorite Food: Seafood. If it swims I’ll eat it. Color: Scarlet red (on cars & front doors), Daffodil yellow because it signifies a new beginning & Ultramarine & Royal blue because they are rich & go with just about everything. Activity: I love to camp. For some odd reason I sleep well in a tent. I also love nature & discovering things (owls fly silently. It has something to do with their feathers & Screech owls really do screech). I am also afflicted with the male sports gene specifically the New York Ranger (ice hockey) mutation for which there is no known cure. I also watch international, multi-stage bike races (Tour de France, Gyro d’ Italia etc.), Premier League football (it’s not a dull as one would think) & Formula 1 racing because it is the ultimate expression in automotive technology. I’m also a cineaste. Places: The UK because it’s the most civilized country in the world & swamps because they’re primordial & I’ve written about, worked with & know a lot about alligators. I absolutely love them & am fascinated with & by them on a lot of different levels for a lot of fairly complicated reasons.
5. What do you want your readers to remember about you?
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith” – 2 Timothy IV.
6. Do you have any works in progress? What are they?
I am currently working on the 7th book in “The Centurion Chronicles” series. Only 5 are live. I like to keep ahead. The research is brutal because for the most part I have to be historically accurate & all of the proper & place names are in Latin which I don’t speak. There are also a lot of moving parts in terms of how my main & supporting characters interact with each other & the situations I put them in.
7. If you could give one piece of advice about life, what would it be?
Follow your heart & have courage because dreams do come true.
Where you can find J.M.: