Tag Archives: Rome

Review of ‘The Ides of April’ by Lindsey Davis

‘The ides of April’ is a detective story set in Rome in 98AD, it is an enjoyable read. Lindsey knows her background so as you read you get taken back to Rome under the emperor’s with the terror of the state as well as how the normal people lived. The hero, Flavia Albia, is a woman which makes for an interesting story as women had few rights in ancient Rome. The plot is neat and convoluted, even if I had worked it out before the conclusion.  As I got further into the story I found I just wanted to keep reading to find out what was happening next.  This is Lindsey’s new adventurer book after 20 novels about Marcus Falco, I must leek for some of those as well as I expect they are equally as good to read.

A book well worth reading I think most people will enjoy it.


Review of CAESAR by A Goldsworthy

This is not the first book by Adrian Goldsworthy I have read nor the first book on Caesar.

I like the style of history writing Adrian uses, he collect together the information and then retells it. Showing where there is dispute over happenings or dates. He works through campaigns and battles with a good grasp of military history and takes you through how the armies work and are commanded. He is also good at putting the story into its proper context rather than as some histories leaving it hanging.

This book starts with a overview of Caesar’s world how Rome under the republic worked and what drove its leaders. Then we start from his childhood and work forward to his death and after. Adrian   takes care to show us what is happening around the story of Caesar so he is not an isolated character.

A good book one of the best I have read on the subject and if you have no great knowledge of Rome or the time of Caesar well explained.

Review of “The Punic Wars” by A Goldsworthy

This is not the first or I expect the last book I will read on this period of history. For those who do not know it covers the three wars between Rome and Carthage in the 3rd and 2nd centuries BC.

These wars can tell us much about hoe countries respond to each other even today and the battles of Hannibal are among the most studied by the military.

I did enjoy reading this book, a good easy read deep for those with more knowledge but easy enough for those without.

Good maps and a helpful chronology as well as a deep look at how the Roman army was organized at this time.

The main battles were looked at with a questioning mind and some of the assumptions of others challenged.

All in all a good book and like all of Adrian’s I have read well researched.

One I will come back to from time to time

Review of the first three of the ‘Warrior of Rome’ books by H Sidebottom

Just finished reading the first three of the Warrior of Rome books the story of Ballista in 260+AD. Fire in the East; King of Kings & Lion of the Sun.

I enjoyed these books, the first best of all, they cover the story of a North German Angle barbarian in the service of the Roman Empire. It takes the known history of the time and wraps him into it. The history and tactics are spot on and the story telling is good.

Harry has also brought in the conflict the Roman state had with Christians and how they were seen as enemies even though they were not trying to bring down the state. There is a good sub plot of the differences between different Christian groups as well as how the Persians having a monolithic religion looked upon the Romans as sinners and worshipers of the dark. They worshiped the eternal fire, the fire of truth. The Romans of course had many gods and cults especially the imperial cult of the Emperors. How they dressed and acted became part of the catholic churches structure.  This is one of the reasons that there was a difference between the Eastern and Western Churches which still exists now.

Indirectly it shows why eventually Rome took upon itself the Mantel of Christian faith and you can see how some of there festivals became part of our Christian culture. It reinforced my view that the adoption of Christianity by Rome also started it upon a path where it lost its way. It became a faith used by the state to wage war in the name of God. The good thing is that the reformation started us upon a path of separating the church from the state and except in the UK and the Catholic church the state and church are separate again and Christians are able to stand up for what they believe and not be seen as part of an aggressive state. Mind you that doesn’t stop those in power from trying to keep the church close and using its followers for its own ends.

This history leads into the story in the book ‘In the Shadow of the SWORD’   see review here.

In the Shadow of the SWORD

Review and thoughts on this book by Tom Holland

I have been reading through this book for a little while, it seemed to take longer than most books, probably because it challenged me in places and I needed to think about it. As a New born again Christian parts of this book required me to think through my response.

So first a review, I enjoyed this book even if it did challenge me, it is well written and the history seems sound. The book covers the end of the conflict between the Roman empire in the East [the West has already fallen] and the Sassanian Persian empire, in the late 6th and early 7th centuries, the the rise of the Arabs into the first Muslim empire.

The book is divided into different parts looking at Iranshahr [Persia] New Rome [based at Constantinople] how faith had changed and molded them and then the rise of Islam under the Arabs and there conquest of the region.

The base theory is that each empire manipulated a base faith within it to control the empire better and so control its population. The Roman’s took Christianity and integrated it into the  whole state, making it one with the emperor. The Persians took Zoroastrianism and did the same making the ruler a representative of God on earth. The Arab tribes which fought for both sides or none over the years assimilated this idea and when after the two main powers had destroyed themselves in war and  the effects of a plague grabbed for power in the power vacuum left.

The challenge – How did Christian faith become so militant when it started off as a peaceful, loving faith. Foe me I think it was when Constantine [emperor 306-37AD] became Christian and used the Cross to rally his troops in his wars. Before then Christianity had been spreading but spreading by faith not force, people chose to become a Christian, afterwards you were a Christian because the state was. Once the state supported the church then church leaders had power in the secular world rather than just being a wise faithful person. The state now wanted its rulers to have control over the church so they could control it and use it for the benefit of the state.

This is how in our day and age starting to be weakened and people either have true Christian faith, various other spirituality  or none at all, this is much like it was before Constantine. The state regulated its affairs and left people to there faith as long as they did not preach against the state although Christians did as they worked to outlaw slavery and such.

So I was challenged by the way the church of Jesus was taken over by people wanting to use it for there own gains, in fact just like Jesus had said the Jewish leaders had become, manipulating belief to hold on to power.

In the end reading this book has improved my faith and my belief that God wants true followers not just people who use Him to gain power. Jesus said the First will be last and the Last first, that He had come to serve not be served. In the end I believe that is what my Christian faith is about not power, wealth or control but serving others. This only happens when people really find Jesus for themselves.

Islam – this book reenforced my belief that Islam is a mixture of Jewish, Christian, Zoroastrian and pagan beliefs used to integrate people to the state and to act as a counter to Rome & its Christianity. Islam was born in conflict spreading by force of arms. Christianity at least until Constantine was spread by word and action and free choice.