I have a pretty full plate right now when talking about reading and in my case now, writing. I have at least three Kindle books to read not including the one I am currently reading and a couple paperbacks as well. This is now coupled with the writing of my first novel and I would be hesitant to add anything else for the time being. However when given the chance to beta read a new Marius Mules then hesitancy is forgotten, current read is put on hold and the writing slows for a bit. Marius Mules VII – The Great Revolt covers the events of 52 BC, the year that Vercingetorix gathers the tribes of Gaul under his banner and wages war against the Roman Pro-Consul Gaius Julius Caesar for the control of Gaul. Given the many difficult situations Caesar has faced and will face in the future, this revolt I think comes closest to destroying him and in this book the author does a masterful job in portraying the ebb and flow of events. In a cataclysmic, history defining period such as this it is not enough to hear the story from just the Romans and so in a departure from previous Marius Mules volumes we have an in depth telling of the Gaul point of view as well. Character development is once again on form; we see and feel the moods, the doubts, the confidence, the emotional toil of both Gaul and Roman. Fronto our old friend is back to his customary position of fighting in the front ranks but at the same time is beginning to show his age. We also meet some very interesting new characters especially on the Gaul side. But to balance out the additions the war takes its toll and we lose some cherished friends…I think there is a point in every one of the Marius Mules series that I start hurling vulgar laden invective at Mr. Turney for killing off various favorites and that trend continues in number 7…but I must state for the record that I really don’t have a problem with it, after all rule number 1 in war is that people die. Another strong aspect of this book is the amount of research the author did, walking the ancient battlefields and oppidums of Bibracte, Gorgovina and Alesia to name a few. You get a real feel for the topography, the makeup of the Gaulish oppidum and the circumvalations of Caesar. Suffice to say that when I finished #7 I knew I had read an excellent retelling of this make it or break it year for Caesar and am already looking forward to #8 – we still have that pesky group of nobles to deal with; you know; Cato, Brutus Cicero and the big man himself, Pompey Magnus. 5 stars and highest recommendation.
In this 3 story gap filler, the author is setting the stage for the big confrontation between Caesar and Vercingetorix. It is a very nice appetite whetting segue and includes some (to be expected) twists as well as tying up a loose end in the Milo/Clodius situation. I read this in one sitting and while that points to the author’s ability to grab my attention, it also means I have to wait longer for the next full volume in this most excellent series. Next up – Winner Takes Gaul.
Those of you who have read the previous volumes in this series may not find it hard to believe but I will say it anyway…they just keep getting better. The author left himself a considerable task at the end of book 4…to refresh your memory it is there that the main fictional character, Marcus Falerius Fronto, has a major falling out with his friend and commanding general, Gaius Julius Caesar. A rift so vast that Fronto leaves the army and spends the whole of book 5 dealing with personal issues while Caesar continues his quest without one of his most trusted advisers and tacticians. Getting them back together did not seem possible but Simon is nothing if he isn’t a resourceful writer.
Their reunion, put forward by none other than Marcus Antonious, is not an easy one and that is one reason why this book is such a great read. Nothing is easy…Simon could have had them patch up, shake hands and gone forward right from the beginning of the reunion but that would be too easy and a bit of a boring letdown. I will say no more lest I give away too much. The main plots are, for Caesar, the death of Ambiorix, the Eburone King who was responsible for the destruction of two legions and for Fronto, the return to the fold and command of a legion. Of course, those two aspects of the story are intertwined, converging like two tributaries to the Rhenus and becoming one in the end.
I live with my wife, my slightly barmy son and very vocal daughter, and two (close approximations of) dogs in rural North Yorkshire, where my wife and I both grew up, surrounded by friends and family. A born and bred Yorkshireman with a love of country, I cannot envisage spending my life anywhere else, though my anchor is sometimes tested as the wanderlust hits and we travel wherever I can find the breathtaking remains of the classical world. I have a love of travel and history, architecture and writing and those four interact well enough to keep me almost permanently busy.
Since leaving school and University, I have tried a great number of careers, including car sales, insurance, software engineering, computer network management, civil service and even paint ing and decorating sales. I have lived in four counties and travelled as widely as time and budget allowed and find myself, on the cusp of my fortieth year, back where I began and finally doing something I love.
Having written a number of unpublished short stories in my early days, I decided back in 2003 to try and write a full length novel. That was the start of Marius’ Mules. Being a lover of Roman history, I decided to combine my love of writing and my love of classical history. Marius’ Mules was followed two years later by Interregnum, my attempt to create a new fantasy story still with a heavy flavour of Rome. Since then, the success and popularity of both have inflated my head so that I can no longer comfortably fit through doors, and has spawned sequels to each work, with a third in the fantasy series and the sixth Marius’ Mules now complete, as well as a series set in the 15th century Mediterranean.
I maintain another website detailing the Roman sites I visit and photograph, and write a blog about books. Find me on twitter as @sjaturney. I am an almost terminally chatty person. That’s just a due warning if you feel like contacting me (see above.) I am always happy to speak to people and have put together an FAQ gathered together from things I have been asked previously. http://sjaturney.co.uk/ http://wordpress.com/read/blog/id/7641919/