Antonius: Soldier of Fate (The Antonius Trilogy)

Written by Brook Allen
Review by J. Lynn Else

42 BC. With Julius Caesar’s assassins now found and executed, Octavian’s rise to power is as fast as it is devious. Marcus Antonius wants to avoid further bloodshed and vies for peace, if only Octavian wouldn’t continually thwart his plans. Octavian seizes Marcus’s legions, refuses to send help when called, closes Roman ports to Marcus, and corners Marcus into marrying Octavian’s recently widowed and pregnant sister, Octavia. Despite the marriage, Marcus’s heart was long ago captured by Queen Cleopatra. Marcus and Cleopatra’s love blinds them to the ever-increasing signs of loss and betrayal that will eventually culminate in the destruction of the last dynastic pharaoh of Egypt, as well as the lives they hold most dear.

This book portrays the final 12 years of the life of, as he’s known today, “Mark Antony.” Because of the damnatio memoriae (damning a person’s memory), his life was virtually erased from ancient Rome. Even his birthday was declared a “black day.” Despite its being book 3 of a trilogy, I found it moderately easy to jump into the story, which opens directly within a conflict between Marcus and Octavian. Tension is high throughout as Marcus and Octavian try to outwit each other. The relationship between Marcus and his children adds emotional weight to the narrative. There are intriguing domestic and military details. What I found most captivating were the moments where Marcus makes choices that cost him the most, as the author does a commendable job bringing readers into Marcus’s point of view. It’s easy to understand his motivation and vision for a greater Rome. It also reaffirmed my belief that the world wasn’t ready for the progressiveness that Cleopatra and Marcus Antonius represented. Allen does a great job bringing fresh insight into a well-known story, with an eye on historical details and character depth.