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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

Texas A&M utility Gavin Grahovac (9) throws the ball during A&Ms game against Georgia on Friday, April 26, 2024, at Olsen Field. (CJ Smith/The Battalion)
Southern slugfest
May 23, 2024
Texas A&M pitcher Evan Aschenbeck (53) reacts after throwing the final strike out during Texas A&M’s game against Mississippi State on Saturday, March 23, 2024, at Olsen Field. (Chris Swann/ The Battalion)
Down but not out
May 23, 2024
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Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp attends the Class of 1972 50-year reunion in Kyle Field on April 20, 2022.
A&M System’s Title IX director suspended after supporting Biden's Title IX changes
Nicholas Gutteridge, Managing Editor • May 23, 2024
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A fighter jet squadron flies over during the National Anthem before Texas A&M’s game against Arkansas at Olsen Field on Saturday, May 18, 2024. (Chris Swann/The Battalion)
Bryan-College Station Regional participants announced
Ian Curtis, Sports Writer • May 27, 2024

For the second time in three seasons, No. 3 national seed Texas A&M baseball will host the Bryan-College Station Regional, where it’ll...

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Beekeeper Shelby Dittman scoops bees back into their hive during a visit on Friday, April 5, 2024. (Kyle Heise/The Battalion)
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Shalina Sabih, Sports Writer • May 1, 2024

The speakers turn on. Static clicks. And a voice reads “Your starting lineup for the Texas A&M Aggies is …” Spectators hear that...

Kennedy White, 19, sits for a portrait in the sweats she wore the night of her alleged assault inside the Y.M.C.A building that holds Texas A&M’s Title IX offices in College Station, Texas on Feb. 16, 2024 (Ishika Samant/The Battalion).
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Scenes from 74
Scenes from '74
April 25, 2024
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Farewell from the graduating Battalion staff of 2024
Farewell from the graduating Battalion staff of 2024
The BattalionMay 4, 2024

No place like Rome

CONN IGGULDEN’S “Emperor: The Gods of War” is a fictionalized account of the last parts of Julius Caesar’s conquests in Greece and Egypt. It is an epic, using fiction to tell a real story in a larger-than-life way. It may be slow, but it is not overly dramatized. Iggulden’s rendering of Caesar’s end is careful and thorough, with enough interest to make the reader an intelligent observer to Caesar’s glories and eventual demise.
“Gods of War” feels very similar to fellow epic “Gladiator,” mainly because it uses the same historical backdrop. Epics, whether based on fact, fiction or a blend of the two, captivate just about everyone. Legends are always romantic, and when an author puts an imaginative twist on a familiar name, that person comes to life more vividly than in just a history book’s summary. So it is with Caesar, a man who conquered lands, controlled millions, and eventually fell victim to his own hubris. Stories don’t get much bigger than this.
British author Iggulden’s Caesar-based “Emperor” series has received much acclaim and popularity. This final book describes Caesar after he returns from the wars in Gaul and establishes his own, albeit illegitimate, regime in Rome. The Roman dictator, Pompey, flees the city, and Caesar must go to war again in Greece in order to decide the rightful ruler. The story is told in three parts – the first is Caesar’s pursuit of Pompey, the second is his activities in Egypt with the infamous queen Cleopatra, and the last and final section is his return to Rome.
For those that read Shakespeare’s play, the story will have some familiarity. Characters like Marcus Brutus, Octavian and Mark Antony all play pivotal roles in Caesar’s campaigns, as history mentions. However, reading the book feels like watching a movie, and that’s a good thing. Perhaps we have watched enough of the History Channel or period films to imagine the sights and sounds of ancient Rome. This book is just easy to visualize as Caesar’s adventures unfold.
In particular, every detail about life as a Roman legionnaire is told plainly, almost militarily. That’s the overall feel of the book. Nothing is embellished – the language is simple and direct. It is a book about a military leader, so it makes sense that a poet’s interpretation wouldn’t do the main character justice.
Iggulden purposefully takes readers inside each character’s head. But even so, it’s very difficult to know any of the players intimately. There is no loyalty to anyone, which is surprising, because one expects to feel strongly for these famous characters. In particular, Caesar is not sympathetic or passionately portrayed one way or the other. Caesar is not a character because he was a real person, but in the book, he is also strangely inhuman. It’s almost as if he has no personality at all – he is just a military machine.
The story moves slowly, with little momentum to sustain a reader. It is not a page-turner, but what it lacks in nail-biting anticipation, it makes up for in satisfaction at the end. Historical fiction is a hard genre in which to build suspense, mainly because the end is already known.
Despite that, “Emperor” accomplishes its mission of weaving a tale of politics, conquest and humanity. It builds on the themes found in all the great stories, making “Gods of War” a faithful retelling of another famous epic.

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