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Book Series review Marius' Mules by Simon Turney

Updated on July 10, 2015

Introduction to the Series

In any series of books the reader in entitled to expect consistency in writing style, characters and plots because without consistency the books are not a series. Simon Turney does not disappoint with his Marius' Mules series and although each book in the series can be enjoyed as a single novel the real pleasure is watching the prime characters grow and interact whilst each new episode in their lives joins seamlessly to the preceding book in a natural sequence. The books include politics and intrigue within Rome, but the common themes are the Roman Legions of Julius Caesar, and the struggle to bring the Gaul Nations within the domain of Nations ruled by Rome. It would have been very easy to focus on Julius Caesar who was quite simply a fascinating character, but Simon Turney chose to write about one of Julius Caesar’s senior officers and to permit us to examine Julius Caesar from a different perspective and I believe the books are better for it. The senior officer central to all the books is Legate Marcus Falerius Fronto, a career soldier who Caesar permits more latitude and even disrespect because Fronto has no political ambitions and even when being ill-mannered Caesar recognises that Fronto is a career soldier and that although Fronto might be rough around the edges he was a respected and successful commander of legionaries. The relationship between Marcus Falerius Fronto and Julius Caesar is a consistent theme across the series and in my opinion one of the reasons the books are so successful.

Book 1 in the Series Marius's Mules

What can you expect from the series

Well in any series of books concerning Roman Legions and Roman legionaries it would be disappointing if there wasn’t fighting and battles large and small, so be prepared for graphic descriptions of fighting between individuals, units and armies. The books however are far more than a descriptive account of the weapons used by the conflicting armies and the injuries inflicted by the various weapons. We learn about defensive and aggressive strategies and how politics back in Rome influenced every decision by Julius Caesar. Don’t think for one minute that reading about one battle or fight after another will become boring or repetitious it doesn’t. The best account of a battle in the series so far takes place in book seven titled “Marius' Mules VII: The Great Revolt” and concerns the battle of Alesia. I’m not going to disclose the plot other than to say it concerns a siege unlike anything I have ever read or heard about before. What took place at Alesia demonstrated the might of the Roman army, the discipline of the legionaries and the brilliance of Julius Caesar. Even knowing the outcome of the battle I was figuratively on the edge of my seat and I kept wondering if I actually did know the outcome of the battle or if I had got it wrong. I believe that the battle of Alesia ranks alongside the battle of Battle of Thermopylae (300 Spartans against the might of the Persian Empire of Xerxes I) as an example of bravery and discipline against overwhelming odds. The battle of Alesia doesn’t happen until book 7 and there is a whole lot of intrigue, some back stabbing and a lot of good solid stories along the way.

Why did I start to read the series

As an avid reader of historic military fiction I had been aware of Simon Turney’s series of Marius' Mules for some time, but never seemed to have enough time to try one of his books. There are several authors that I read consistently Conn iggulden, Simon Scarrow, Bernard Cornwell to name just a few and I always have a ready supply of books available so that I’m never without a good book to read.

I only picked Simons book ‘The Invasion of Gaul’ book 1 in the series because I was going on a cruise holiday and had recently purchased a kindle and wanted to download some books for holiday reading. I also downloaded several other books by different authors, but once I had read ‘The Invasion of Gaul’ I didn’t move onto one of my other downloaded holiday reading books. I logged onto the internet and downloaded book 2 ‘The Belgae’ and have been hooked ever since. I fully intend exploring other titles by Simon Turney once I find the free time, but my addiction to his Marius' Mules series has resulted in a backlog of reading for my regular authors.

If Simon’s series can distract me from reading the latest book by Conn iggulden, Simon Scarrow, or Bernard Cornwell then I have no qualms about recommending the series to others.

The Series in Sequence of Publication

  1. Marius’ Mules I: The Invasion of Gaul
  2. Marius’ Mules II: The Belgae
  3. Marius’ Mules III: Gallia Invicta
  4. Marius’ Mules IV: Conspiracy of Eagles
  5. Marius’ Mules V: Hades’ Gate
  6. Marius’ Mules VI: Caesar’s Vow
  7. Marius’ Mules: Prelude to War
  8. Marius’ Mules VII: The Great Revolt

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