Vespasian III: False God of Rome

Written by Robert Fabbri
Review by Chris James

Vespasian III is the latest instalment of Robert Fabbri’s saga of Vespasian’s rise from obscurity to the purple. The story begins in AD 33 with Vespasian as a Quaestor in Cyrencia, a North African province of Rome, but soon enough events take him back to the EternalCity and into the spotlight. However, being in the spotlight with Caligula as emperor (after the death, natural or otherwise, of Tiberius) is a bit like being a moth near a candle: it is downright dangerous. This danger is highlighted when Vespasian is chosen to undertake an audacious mission for the insane emperor, who plans to walk across the bay of Naples.

The mission sends Vespasian to the largest city after Rome in the ancient world – Alexandria – and so naturally it involves the city’s famous founder, Alexander the Great. The false god of Rome that the title refers to is, of course, not Vespasian but the Emperor Caligula. With a host of recognisable characters including Jesus, Caligula, Vespasian and a dead Alexander, and action across the empire, this book can scarcely fail to be a great read, as indeed it is.

This is not just a military book, but will appeal to those interested in any aspect of Roman history, whether military, political or social, or indeed to any lover of historical novels. The book can be read as a standalone work, although readers are well advised to read the first two books in the series. Recommended.