Marching with Caesar is the historical fiction story of Titus Pullus, as dictated to his scribe and companion, told from a legionary’s point-of-view commencing when Titus is 16 and determined to enter Rome’s legions.
It is his sole dream, one that is nourished by his brother-in-law, Cyclops, a former legionary, who trains Titus and his best friend, Vibius, for a military career.
Titus Pullus is a big boy, standing over 6 feet tall and heavily muscled. This size is both a downfall and a blessing. The downfall is his father despises him because his mother died giving birth to such a large baby. The blessing becomes apparent when he becomes a soldier in the ranks of the legions, although it does make him a target for the enemy who want to kill such a large foe.
Fortunately, for Titus, he has two loving sisters and a slave couple who raised him. Yet, this is not enough to protect him entirely from his father’s hatred. Residing on a fallow farm with his alcoholic father, Titus fantasizes about the day he can leave forever.
Although he is underage by one year, the promise of never seeing his son again and a belly full of booze convinces his father to swear to officials Titus is 17 years old, the minimum age Rome legions will accept tiros for training.
Titus is smug and full of pride at his size and his fighting capabilities. His time with Cyclops has him convinced he knows pretty much all there is becoming a legionnaire. His smugness quickly evaporates the first day when harshly disciplined by his superior for minor infractions.
Rome’s strength was the absolute obedience of its legions regardless of whether they agreed with commands. Titus, Vibius and their tent mates complete their intensive training and are now ready for action under their new Praetor, Gais Julius Caesar, in the newly raised 10th Legion. Caesar will rely heavily on the 10th Legion in the years and campaigns to come.
Marching with Caesar is 652 pages long. Fortunately, Caesar was a busy, ambitious man building an empire. In conquering such an empire, Caesar is forced to repeatedly subdue tribes in Gaul bent on rebelling against Rome’s rule.
Marching with Caesar details the daily lives of legionnaires, complete with the killing lust, comradeship, vulgarities (Peake has a glossary of Latin terms, a few of which made me laugh out loud), harsh punishments dealt for infractions and the joy of victories. Peake makes no excuses for actions that would be viewed as atrocities, in that day and today. It was what it was.
I won’t go into any detail of the plot, as to do so would contain spoilers.
Marching with Caesar is not just a man’s book. Peake captivated me throughout this entire epic work. I marched in the mud, huddled in wet misery, dug trenches, brutally killed enemies and massacred villages, buried bodies, built and destroyed Roman camps with incredible efficiency, was the enemy’s target, lost and loved with Titus. I was present at his every move compliments of Peake’s superior prose.
My recommendation is to read the foreword. It contains vital information which assists in understanding military operations, formation of legions and ranks.
As of today’s date, Marching with Caesar has 50 five star reviews. It now has 51.
MY RATING: 5/5 Stars
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