Written by Simon Turney
Review by Alan Cassady-Bishop

Everyone knows his name, and everyone thinks they know what he did while Emperor. This is an account from his youngest sister, Julia Livilla, of what made the monster. Seen through loving, sisterly eyes, he is the canny, funny yet preternaturally political animal who looked to “the long game”. While unwilling guests at the luxurious retreat of Tiberius on Capri, the whole family were under threat from the Emperor himself; they were distant relations of the Emperor and close relations of the universally admired Germanicus. Considering their mother and two eldest brothers were allegedly starved to death in exile, that they daily witnessed people being thrown over the cliffs of the Emperor’s domain, that they knew they were at the whim of an insane despot, they were against a spoiled heir-apparent in Gemellus, is it any surprise that the remaining “elder” of the family, Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus—known by many as Caligula—decided to act?

In fairness, this is a well-written fictional account of the infamous Emperor’s early years. It does not try to whitewash or retell history but puts his madness into context. Why did he do what he did? Why did he go the way of paranoia and madness? Even the infamous “making his horse a senator” legend is explained with sense. Don’t expect revelations but, using fiction, this puts him into context—not cleaner, but clearer.