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Agony's Shelf: 'The Blood of Gods'

Updated on June 27, 2017

When Julius Caesar was stabbed to death by an infamous group of conspirators, many of them men he'd considered close friends and colleagues, their action set off a power struggle that several times threatened to destroy Rome. Split into factions with dubious claims to either legality or moral right, the struggle for control of the empire vacillates between the conspirators, the Senate, Julius Caesar's right-hand man Marc Antony, and his nephew and heir, Octavian.

From the heart of the city of Rome itself to the mountains of Greece and the coves of Sicily, battles are fought and lost and fought again by men on foot, on horse, and on ships at sea. As the fate of each conspirator is decided and their numbers grow smaller and smaller the internal politics of the empire as well as the physical struggles between the largest armies ever raised are the ultimate catalyst for the Imperial era of Roman history.

Dear Reader,

your wallet may not thank you for picking up this book, for by the time you put it down you may be filled with a steadfast resolve to track down every novel the author has ever written.

If you are well-versed in Roman history of this era I must beg you to leave behind the demands you might be tempted to make of a sometimes threadbare story. Those small details that the experienced buff will notice have been altered are all explained away in the Historical Note at the end that will be balm for any offended sensibilities. The author makes only a very few adjustments in the interest of maximizing a steady, comfortable pace for the series of events as well as minimizing reader confusion.

There are not many novels from this time period that bother with making sense of all that happened in the year directly after Caesar's death, many tending to skip directly from that dramatic event to the equally dramatic double suicide of Marc Antony and Queen Cleopatra as though little of interest passed in between. In truth this exacting account of that period of upheaval offers incredible and fascinating insight into what life was like in Rome at the time, the reasons the conspirators succeeded with their plot but not their true goal, and the relationships between some of Rome's best-known characters. Particularly vividly rendered are the battle scenes, with the author managing to take great care to ensure that the reader has a clear mental picture of what is happening at all times while losing none of the suspense of the struggle itself. It is uncommon to find a story willing to devote so much time and effort to actually helping the reader understand the progression of the fight, rather than either indulging in the author showing off all the research they have done or conversely glossing over the battle by just saying so-and-so won and moving on from there. Even better is this one in a million find, which pays the same attention to naval progress as it does the battles on land.

Your Aunty knows something about Rome and something about this particular time period, but never have I been so satisfied with the keen insight and brilliant narration of specific events as I am now. I did not joke when I warned that you may be sent haring off after the author's other works, as that is exactly what I intend to do. My bookshelf may groan under the additions but I will have to shore it up in the hopes that each will be as keenly delightful as the last.

Your Truly Devoted,

Aunt Agony

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