Heard: The Field of Swords by Conn Iggulden, 2004?, Overdrive download
Swords! Horses! Sex! Intrigue! Back stabbing! Violent Frenchies! Violent Germans! Violent British! Violent Romans! More sex! Politicians being weasels! Weasels becoming politicians! Rioting! Sex!
Third in Iggulden's Emperor series. Caesar has returned from his multi-year assignment as "governor" of Spain. Caesar returns to Rome and brings all his men, a lot of gold, and a yearning to fight someone else. Caesar forges an alliance with Senators Pompey and Crassius and heads to Gaul to kill and steal and loot.
Gaul is tough. There are many tribes to fight and many battles. The Roman Legions march around and kill people. Brutus is Caesar's right hand - and winner of a tournament to determine the best swordsman in the Roman Empire. Death is frequent and lives are cheap. You sign up for 25 years when you join a Legion but don't count on living that long.
Caesar is successful in Gaul but Rome is in turmoil. Two new Senators are grown-up street gang leaders and both of them guide their violent street gangs in efforts to increase the Senator's political power. The Senate grants Pompey dictatorial powers to battle the crime and many riots and fighting ensue. Pompey gets a swelled head and does not want War Hero Caesar returning to Rome and challenging Pompey.
Caesar invades Britain and has a rough time. He has to return to Gaul and put down a rebellion. Caesar then takes his Legions and heads south to Rome. More slavery, violence as politics, rich guys being dicks. A fun action story with plenty of political shenanigans.
1.a. The novel's politics play nicely during an election year. Especially with Trump on the ballot. Especially with Clinton, for that matter. You can easily argue Trump - like some characters in the novel - has always been out for himself. Trump says whatever he wants in an effort to get elected.
1.b. Clinton, meanwhile, can be argued that she started out as a believer in her work and country but was corrupted by money and power.
1.c Caesar himself is a mix of both. Caesar believes in the power of Rome and it's importance to the world. Caesar also thinks mostly of himself and is blind to his selfishness and failure to thank and praise those who sacrifice so much for him.
1.d. The leaders make decisions to sway the voters and gain power. People are either helpers or speed bumps.
2. Caesar is hugely charismatic and a military genius. Caesar's men are loyal to Caesar more than they are loyal to Rome.
3. This is not real history. Iggulden takes real people and crafts his own story around them. The audiobook had an afterword about this but I have forgotten what he said.
4. I am currently listening to the fourth novel in the series. I have the fifth novel waiting in my phone,