Book Review: Marching With Caesar-Civil War

In the first novel of R.W. Peake’s Marching With Caesar series readers were treated to a detailed account of what life was like as a Roman legionary involved in foreign conquests. Peake’s latest historical novel, Marching with Caesar-Civil War is in some ways even more fascinating than the first because the central character, Titus Pullus is now a highly ranked centurion with frequent personal contact with Caesar and other movers and shakers of the age, and has a front row seat for observing the events of the day.
Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus, AKA Pompey the Great, had once been politically allied with Julius Caesar and had even married Caesar’s daughter Julia. After Julia died in childbirth, however, Pompey married Cornelia, the daughter of Caecilius Metellus Scipio, one of the leaders of the anti-Caesar faction of the Roman Senate. He thus aligned himself with Marcus Porcius Cato and other patricians who opposed Caesar. When Caesar crossed the Rubicon and marched on Rome, those factions in the senate that opposed Caesar fled the city, along with Pompey and the legions which were loyal to him. They marched to Brundisium and then fled to Greece aboard ships.
There followed years of Civil war between the forces of Caesar and those of Pompey and Scipio. Pompey was soundly defeated by Caesar’s much smaller but more experienced forces at the battle of Pharsalus in Greece. Pompey fled to Egypt where he was murdered, probably at the behest of advisers to the boy king Ptolemy XIII. Even after Pompey’s death, the legions of Caesar had to battle remnants of Pompey’s legions in Africa and Spain.
Titus Pullus is at the center of all of these campaigns. After Pharsalus, Caesar appoints him pilus primus of the sixth legion, which had belonged to Pompey but deserted to Caesar. Caesar then took the sixth with him to Alexandria, where he settled political affairs and began his famous affair with Cleopatra. Later he is transferred back to his old 10th legion, again as pilus primus, and participates in campaigns in Africa and Spain.
I thoroughly enjoyed Marching With Caesar-Civil War, and heartily recommend it to anyone with an interest in Roman History. I look forward to reading Peake’s next book which, I assume, will relate events after the assassination of Caesar, leading to the rise of Augustus.

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