Antonius: Second in Command (The Antonius Trilogy)

Written by Brook Allen
Review by India Edghill

Marcus Antonius (Mark Antony) is often overshadowed by Gaius Julius Caesar. But Antonius wasn’t a second-rate Caesar; he was a great man in his own right, and it’s refreshing to read a novel told from his point of view. Second in Command, the second of Allen’s Antonius trilogy, spans the time period from Antonius’s first appointment to Caesar’s staff to Caesar’s assassination, showing us the familiar events as they affected Antonius and his hopes for Rome.

While Caesar was the greatest of great men, he wasn’t easy to work for (or probably to be around), and as Antonius matures and begins to climb the political ladder himself, he soon realizes he can be Caesar’s man – or Rome’s. Trying to balance these two loyalties is impossible, especially as political tensions seem to be constantly on the brink of civil war.

Nothing in the novel is unfamiliar to the those interested in Republican and early Imperial Rome, but the events are clear to the modern reader while staying true to the history. The prose is workmanlike without being boring, and the author manages to keep the many similar Latin names sorted out for the reader. Second in Command is a worthy addition to any Roman bookshelf.