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Emperor: The Field of Swords [Format Kindle]

Conn Iggulden
4.0 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (1 commentaire client)

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Emperor - Field of Swords takes Colin Iggulden's sequence of novels about the rise of Julius Caesar to a point where Caesar is forced to bid for mastery of the Roman world. Iggulden is intelligent and precise about the internal dynamics of the triumvirate of Caesar, the elderly rich Crassus and the proud Pompey. This alliance was never more than pragmatic and there was always going to be a settling of accounts--thus far so good, but Iggulden's idealizing of Caesar leads him at times into ignoring the sheer complexity of the affairs of the late Republic. This is a version of Rome which downplays the alliance of street and snob, and treats Caesar as if he were always an apostle of order--it is a historical novel which plays worrying games with historical fact.

Iggulden is fascinating on Caesar as governor and general--in the areas, that is, where we have the words of the man himself, rather than the spin put on his actions by his enemies. There is a real sense here of the practicalities of ancient warfare, of hard footslogging in difficult terrain and planning supplies for the long haul of sieges and forced marches - Iggulden may oversimplify politics, but he is intelligent about battle. --Roz Kaveney


Chapter One

Julius stood by the open window, gazing out over Spanish hills. The setting sun splashed gold along a distant crest so that it seemed to hang in the air unsupported, a vein of light in the distance. Behind him, the murmur of conversation rose and fell without interrupting his thoughts. He could smell honeysuckle on the breeze and the touch of it in his nostrils made his own rank sweat even more pungent as the delicate fragrance shifted in the air and was gone.

It had been a long day. When he pressed a hand against his eyes, he could feel a surge of exhaustion rise in him like dark water. The voices in the campaign room mingled with the creak of chairs and the rustle of maps. How many hundreds of evenings had he spent on the upper floor of the fort with those men? The routine had become a comfort for them all at the end of a day, and even when there was nothing to discuss, they still gathered in the campaign rooms to drink and talk. It kept Rome alive in their minds and at times they could almost forget that they had not seen their home for more than four years.

At first, Julius had embraced the problems of the regions and hardly thought of Rome for months at a time. The days had flown as he rose and slept with the sun and the Tenth made towns in the wilderness. On the coast, Valentia had been transformed with lime and wood and paint until it was almost a new city veneered over the old. They had laid roads to chain the land and bridges that opened the wild hills to settlers. Julius had worked with a frenetic, twitching energy in those first years, using exhaustion like a drug to force away his memories. Then he would sleep and Cornelia would come to him. Those were the nights when he would leave his sweat-soaked bed and ride out to the watch posts, appearing out of the darkness unannounced until the Tenth were as nervous and tired as he was himself.

As if to mock his indifference, his engineers had found gold in two new seams, richer than any they had known before. The yellow metal had its own allure, and when Julius had seen the first haul spilled out of a cloth onto his desk, he had looked at it with hatred for what it represented. He had come to Spain with nothing, but the ground gave up its secrets and with the wealth came the tug of the old city and the life he had almost forgotten.

He sighed at the thought. Spain was such a treasure-house it would be difficult to leave her, but part of him knew he could not lose himself there for much longer. Life was too precious to be wasted, and too short.

The room was warm with the press of bodies. The maps of the new mines were stretched out on low tables, held by weights. Julius could hear Renius arguing with Brutus and the low cadence of Domitius chuckling. Only the giant Ciro was silent. Yet even those who spoke were marking time until Julius joined them. They were good men. Each one of them had stood with him against enemies and through grief, and there were times when Julius could imagine how it might have been to cross the world with them. They were men to walk a finer path than to be forgotten in Spain, and Julius could not bear the sympathy he saw in their eyes. He knew he deserved only contempt for having brought them to that place and buried himself in petty work.

If Cornelia had lived, he would have taken her with him to Spain. It would have been a new start, far away from the intrigues of the city. He bowed his head as the evening breeze touched his face. It was an old pain and there were whole days when he did not think of her. Then the guilt would surface and the dreams would be terrible, as if in punishment for the lapse.

"Julius? The guard is at the door for you," Brutus said, touching him on the shoulder. Julius nodded and turned back to the men in the room, his eyes seeking out the stranger amongst them.

The legionary looked nervous as he glanced around at the map-laden tables and the jugs of wine, clearly awed by the people within.

"Well?" Julius said.

The soldier swallowed as he met the dark eyes of his general. There was no kindness in that hard, fleshless face, and the young legionary stammered slightly.

"A young Spanish at the gate, General. He says he's the one we're looking for."

The conversations in the room died away and the guard wished he were anywhere else but under the scrutiny of those men.

"Have you checked him for weapons?" Julius said.

"Yes, sir."

"Then bring him to me. I want to speak to the man who has caused me so much trouble."

Julius stood waiting at the top of the stairs as the Spaniard was brought up. His clothes were too small for his gangling limbs, and the face was caught in the change between man and boy, though there was no softness in the bony jaw. As their eyes met, the Spaniard hesitated, stumbling.

"What's your name, boy?" Julius said as they came level.

"Adan," the Spaniard forced out.

"You killed my officer?" Julius said, with a sneer.

The young man froze, then nodded, his expression wavering between fear and determination. He could see the faces turned toward him in the room, and his courage seemed to desert him then at the thought of stepping into their midst. He might have held back if the guard hadn't shoved him across the threshold.

"Wait below," Julius told the legionary, suddenly irritated.

Adan refused to bow his head in the face of the hostile glares of the Romans, though he could not remember being more frightened in his life. As Julius closed the door behind him, he started silently, cursing his nervousness. Adan watched as the general sat down facing him, and a dull terror overwhelmed him. Should he keep his hands by his sides? All of a sudden, they seemed awkward and he considered folding them or clasping his fingers behind his back. The silence was painful as he waited and still they had their eyes on him. Adan swallowed with difficulty, determined not to show his fear.

"You knew enough to tell me your name. Can you understand me?" Julius asked.

Adan worked spit into his dry mouth. "I can," he said. At least his voice hadn't quavered like a boy's. He squared his shoulders slightly and glanced at the others, almost recoiling from the naked animosity from one of them, a bear of a man with one arm who seemed to be practically growling with anger.

"You told the guards you were the one we were looking for, the one who killed the soldier," Julius said.

Adan's gaze snapped back to him. "I did it. I killed him," he replied, the words coming in a rush.

"You tortured him," Julius added.

Adan swallowed again. He had imagined this scene as he walked over the dark fields to the fort, but he couldn't summon the defiance he had pictured. He felt as if he were confessing to his father, and it was all he could do not to shuffle his feet in shame, despite his intentions.

"He was trying to rape my mother. I took him into the woods. She tried to stop me, but I would not listen to her," Adan said stiffly, trying to remember the words he had practiced.

Someone in the room muttered an oath, but Adan could not tear his eyes away from the general. He felt an obscure relief that he had told them. Now they would kill him and his parents would be released.

Thinking of his mother was a mistake. Tears sprang from nowhere to rim his eyes and he blinked them back furiously. She would want him to be strong in front of these men.

Julius watched him. The young Spaniard was visibly trembling, and with reason. He had only to give the order and Adan would be taken out into the yard and executed in front of the assembled ranks. It would be the end of it, but a memory stayed his hand.

"Why have you given yourself up, Adan?"

"My family have been taken in for questioning, General. They are innocent. I am the one you want."

"You think your death will save them?"

Adan hesitated. How could he explain that only that thin hope had made him come?

"They have done nothing wrong."

Julius raised a hand to scratch his eyebrow, then rested his elbow on the arm of the chair as he thought.

"When I was younger than you, Adan, I stood in front of a Roman named Cornelius Sulla. He had murdered my uncle and broken everything I valued in the world. He told me I would go free if I put aside my wife and shamed her with her father. He cherished such little acts of spite."

For a moment, Julius looked into the unimaginable distance of the past, and Adan felt sweat break out on his forehead. Why was the man talking to him? He had already confessed; there was nothing else. Despite his fear, he felt interest kindle. The Romans seemed to bear only one face in Spain. To hear they had rivalry and enemies within their own ranks was a revelation.

"I hated that man, Adan," Julius continued. "If I had been given a weapon, I would have used it on him even though it meant my own life. I wonder if you understand that sort of hatred."

"You did not give up your wife?" Adan asked.

Julius blinked at the sudden question, then smiled bitterly. "No. I refused and he let me live. The floor at his feet was spattered with the blood of people he had killed and tortured, yet he let me live. I have often wondered why."

"He did not think you were a threat," Adan said, surprised by his own courage to speak so to the general. Julius shook his head in memory.

"I doubt it. I told him I would devote my life to killing him if he set me free." For a moment, he almost said aloud how his friend had poisoned the Dictator, but that part of the story could never be told, not even to the men in that room.

Julius shrugged. "He died by someone else's hand, in the end. It is one of the regrets of my life that I could not do it ...

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Commentaires client les plus utiles
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Très bonne saga historique 6 novembre 2010
Par avl
Format:Broché|Achat vérifié
C'est une très bonne saga autour de la vie de Jules César. De son enfance, jusqu'à ce qu'il devienne l'empereur que tout le monde connaît.
Il y a un bon rythme tout au long des livres, pas de temps mort.
Les passionnés d'histoire romaine et de péplums y trouveront leur compte.

Certaines libertés sont prise avec l'histoire, mais le tout est bien ficelé et cela n'a rien de choquant.
A ne pas prendre comme un livre historique, mais bel et bien un roman.

Attention pour la version anglaise, le style d'écriture n'est pas à la portée de tout le monde. Il vous faudra un très bon vocabulaire pour tout comprendre.
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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur (beta) 4.5 étoiles sur 5  77 commentaires
38 internautes sur 50 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 A gripping tale but historically poor 1 mars 2005
Par ilmk - Publié sur
Knowing full well that Igguldens' retelling of Gaius Julius Caesar's life owes very little to actual historical fact and much to pure fantasy I set about this third installment curious to know precisely what period had gone through the mangle this time and what the result would be. Apart from the wincing at the total exclusion of Marcus Tullius Cicero's finest hour in 63BC in stopping the Catiline Conspiracy (Julius gets the credit here and it's brought forward 4 years as well - never mind), the blatant chronological reversal of Clodius' death in 52 and the invasion of Britain in 55/54, and the casual use of Cabera to act as the soothsayer for the infamous Ides of March quote nearly a decade ahead of reality... I was cautiously optimistic by page 200 or so.

The third in Iggulden's Emperor series opens with our young praetor with his Tenth legion in Spain with Brutus and his extraordinarii cavalry. Dark, moody and brooding the mix is swiftly stirred as Brutus' courtesan mother, Servilia, turns up with three girls to make a handsome profit and catch Julius' eye. From there he swiftly returns to the political mire of Rome, coming up against both Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus and Marcus Licinius Crassus as he seeks to establish himself in Rome and take his first consulship. Much of this is given over in two very lengthy episodes - the first his quelling of the Crassus backed Catiline conspiracy, the second over a gladiator contest for Marcus Brutus to be First Sword in Rome. Once this has been achieved Caesar hotfoots it to Gaul with his comrades in tow wearing silver armour to start conquering the land. Battles against the Averni, a quick trip to Britain and back and the infamous siege of Alesia are all dealt with in a thrilling loose style with an interim trip back to Rome by Brutus to get involved with Caesar's daughter, Julia, and quell the infamous street gangs of Milo and Clodius whilst Julius' relationship with Servilia is explored.

I confess I find my reaction to Iggulden is to sigh deeply. The historical purist in me reads on in horrified fascination as to what's going to happen next in this historical alternative history, but it is somewhat compelling. I know many reviewers will say that historical accuracy is not what Iggulden's about but it's taken too far. You can get away with the odd explained change for dramatic purposes but it's so wrong it really does detract from what could be so good.

History aside I find this the weakest of the three as it is somewhat directionless and the chacterisation fill between major episodes is creating more of a sense of gallivanting adventurers rather than mature personages. Plot and characterisation is all too wooden and I find myself disliking Julius more and more. If it wasn't for the exceptionally brief reference to Caesar's lamentation that he is older than Alexander was when he conquered the world right at the start (and you knew little of Caesar's history) you'd have to ask what his motive for any of his actions was in this novel.

What saves the entire series is that Iggulden CAN tell a story.

So utterly compelling, but, unfortunately, for all the wrong reasons. Another one is due and I have to complete the series but I know the same complaints will probably be there after the next one.
9 internautes sur 12 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 "Field of Swords" -- Fun Ahistorical Historical Fiction 22 avril 2005
Par Scott Schiefelbein - Publié sur
Conn Iggulden's "The Field of Swords" continues his "Emperor" series, to borrow a phrase, it's like the first two books, only more so.

From his first book in the series, Iggulden has demonstrated a willingness to depart from the historical record. When it comes to Julius Caesar, that's playing with fire, if for no other reason than that Caesar's life is astounding enough on its own that it leaves little room for editorializing. However, we must respect Iggulden is writing fiction, not another biography of the historical giant (and to Iggulden's credit, he repeatedly recommends Christian Meier's masterful biography, Caesar, for folks who want the straight story).

By making some rather harsh choices (for example, Cicero merits barely a mention in Iggulden's novels), Iggulden has offended many readers, to be sure. For readers familiar with the historical period, it is harder to suspend our disbelief when reading about certain events when we know that they just did not transpire in the manner described. I imagine that the less familiar one is with the subject, the more entertaining the series is.

Fortunately for all concerned, even Roman history buffs, Iggulden is a fine writer and creates many memorable scenes in "Field of Swords." Several battle scenes quicken the pulse, but Iggulden also writes excellent scenes around more domestic fare, such as a bunch of humbled Roman blacksmiths learning the intricate art of Spanish swordmaking.

And the broad strokes are all here to create a fine theater for our favorite characters. Caesar rides from Spain to Gaul to Britain and eventually comes to a crisis point at the Rubicon. Crassus builds his astounding fortune but chafes under his less-than-stellar military reputation. Pompey rules Rome with an iron fist and yet fears this upstart running rampant on the frontier. Servilia's love for Caesar burns white-hot. Brutus continues his quest to be the perfect sword, yet cracks form in his friendship with Caesar. (And there are many other storylines of note.) Not all the characters make it through to the end, and we generally are sad to see them go - a testament to Iggulden's ability to spin an entertaining tale.

Again, for readers looking for a highly factual fictionalized account of Julius Caesar, look to Colleen McCullouch's titanic "Masters of Rome" series. (Her research is impeccable, and she includes a glossry and highly detailed maps -- for some bizarre reason, Iggulden's novels do not include a single map, which is a bizarre omission.) But for fans of a leaner, lighter, more action-packed treatment, Iggulden's series will do just fine, thank you very much.
2 internautes sur 3 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 Better Than the 1st 2 Books in the Series, Though That Doesn't Say Much 21 mai 2009
Par Ronin - Publié sur
Format:Poche|Achat vérifié
Some reviewers are critical of other reviews of both this series and this author in general that take issue with the poor historical qualities of these books, and are quick to point out that these are "historical fiction". Actually they really aren't. There is so little historical value delivered by The Conn in both his Emperor series or his Genghis series. This book continues the story of Caesar, but the author simply took a character and selectively chose other figures that suited his story line while leaving out other crucial figures who played major roles. For example, in this book I was stunned to follow a Gaulic campaign where the general Titus Labienus, who also played a pivotal role in the upcoming Civil War, was absent, as were every noteworthy centurion of the 10th.

This is really just a fiction novel that took a major figure in history and thrusts him into an almost complete fantasy. For readers who know this history, it really is frustrating to find so many glaring errors every other page. One example is his repeated reference to "corn", a New World crop that was completely unknown to the Roman world. Wheat would have been correct. I use this example to illustrate Conn's lack of understand of his subject matter. This is now the 3rd book and I am still reading about corn; didn't anyone advise him from a historical point of view? Wheat was a crucial component of Roman life, and you would think someone qualified to write for a mass audience would first know his subject. Considering this is supposed to be "historical fiction", you would think this would be important.

Then there are lines like Pompey on pg128 "politics was a practical business", taken straight from the mouth of "Gracchus" in the film "Spartacus". Is this supposed to be like, an homage?

In his historical notes section on pg 593 he writes, "I have made 1 or 2 claims in the book that may annoy historians". This is a complete understatement. The entire series, and his other as well is a complete abomination to anyone who studies these subjects. Most notably, his portrayal of the main character "Caesar" is so off the mark I don't even know where to begin. The only real interesting characters are the ones he completely makes up, though he did a decent job on Servilia if you can get past the fact that Brutus in the book is his best friend and not his illegitimate son, or when he impersonates Caesar and wins victory at Alesia. Right.

If you appreciate reading books that mislead you and deny any valuable information, then we can probably agree that as a useless novel this book reads well and keeps the pages turning. Personally, I respect historical fiction that makes a quality effort to transport you into the world of the past, and leaves you with at least some decent impression of that world that is not glaringly false or misleading. Unfortunately I bought the whole series and must suffer another 500pgs with the last book to gain closure.
3.0 étoiles sur 5 An Irritating and Affected Narration of a Wonderful Story 20 novembre 2013
Par Adk Librarian - Publié sur
Format:CD|Achat vérifié
I Love Conn Iggulden's Emperor Series and have listened to the entire series on CD. But I am giving this a poor review because of the quality of the narration. The first two books were narrated by Robert Glenister who I felt did a wonderful job. But I am at a loss as to what the producers were thinking when they changed the narrator to Paul Blake on the last two books. The most irritating part of his narration is the way he changes the pronunciation of the character's names. His choices appear affected and really make no sense in light of latin pronunciation protocols. In the first two books the character's names were as they have been throughout history....Cicero is (sis-er-o) Blake refers to him ridiculously as Kick-er-o; Octavian is (Auk-Tay-Vee-an) but Blake chooses to call him (Ah-Tah-Wee-An). Jupiter becomes (You-pih-tah) and the beat goes on. By this token Julius Caesar should be (Yule-e-us Key-ser) but Blake keeps the traditional pronunciation when it comes to the main character. Its just distracting and irritating to change the character's names mid-story. Robert Glenister used traditional pronunciations in the first two books. In addition to the pronunciation fiasco Mr. Blake does not seem to have the oh so important ability of a narrator to modulate his voice to reflect the differences in characters and many times he uses a different timbre and tone within one speech by one character. All the characters sound the same, but he is able to animate the narration when it should be the other way around. As a narrator I find his efforts affected and distracting he does not do Mr. Iggulden's story justice. Producers should have stuck with Mr. Glenister.
4 internautes sur 6 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 Not the best yet. 17 mars 2005
Par Paul Hopper - Publié sur
Conn Iggulden is the author who exposed me to the amazing life of Caesar. His first book The Gates of Rome was an amazing work of historical fiction. When I read The Death of Kings I could not figure out which of the two books I liked more. When I read The Field of Swords I was a little less impressed. It seemed to me that character development was sacrificed so that more of the book could focus on some things that really didn't matter. Even some of the events in Caesar's life were played down when in truth they were some of the most interesting and exciting. I think Iggulden felt a little rushed on this book. It was still very entertaining but he has done better. If I could tell Iggulden anything it would be to take his time on the last one. Some of the most amazing things in Caesar's life happened during and after the civil war. I know he will end the series with a bang and am looking forward to the last book.
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