The Blood of Gods: A Novel of Rome

Written by Conn Iggulden
Review by Viviane Crystal

The fifth novel in Conn Iggulden’s Emperor series opens with the bloody assassination of Julius Caesar by “the Liberatores, who murdered the Father of Rome,” in 44 BC. The scene is ghastly, with each of the approximately 20 men fiercely stabbing Caesar, including his so-called best friend, Marcus Brutus. The killers claimed they acted for Roman freedom yet insisted the Roman Senate pass a vote for amnesty for their duplicitous act.

Marc Antony is allowed to offer a brilliant funeral oration for the fallen leader while holding an effigy of Caesar to describe each knife thrust by the killers. Even Antony is appalled by the viral riots, fires, murders, and looting that follow his speech. Senators and citizens are further shocked when the will of Caesar is read, learning Caesar left most of his wealth and power to his cousin, Octavian, and the common people. It is this 19-year-old man who proclaims an oath of blood for blood revenge. He then adopts the new name of Octavian-Caesar Augustus.

However, rivalries are rife between Marc Antony, Octavian, and Lepidus on one hand and Brutus, Sextus Pompey, and Cassius on the other. Pages fly by with intense descriptions of naval and land battles, new technology invented to capture enemy ships, intimate conversations revealing base and pure motives for each stage of rebellion or cooperation, the physical weakness of Octavian at pivotal moments of need, the secret betrayal of Brutus that preceded his final act against his best friend, and so much more. Conn Iggulden, as usual, has researched his topic well and adds notes to explain his changes of names and other fictional scenes within the novel. The Blood of Gods is a vivid, brilliant portrait full of adventure and passion from a political, military, human, and historical perspective. Highly recommended!