Augustus: Son of Rome tells the story of the assassination of Julius Caesar and the rise of his heir, Gaius Octavius, as he journeys to Rome from Apollonia. We see a boy grow into a man as Octavius develops the moral courage, intelligence and ruthlessness that will finally see him become Augustus, Emperor of Rome.
The pen and sword will be employed to defeat his enemies and Octavius will earn the name of “Caesar”.
Yet Rome will exact its price – and triumph will be accompanied by tragedy.
Julius Caesar, Cicero, Cleopatra, Mark Antony, Brutus and Marcus Agrippa all feature in this epic adventure, which will appeal to fans of Shakespeare, Plutarch and Conn Iggulden alike.
This book covers events surrounding and just after the murder of Julius Caesar. Interestingly, many of the other characters get as much attention as Augustus, giving us a well-rounded view of interactions between them. The plotters are indecisive at times, awkward at critical moments; their motives are pretty muddy. Mark Antony is clearly a villain in this book. Cicero tries to straddle both sides. Octavius is not what I would call a hero; he is still young and not wholly formed, of course. His wisdom and precocity are evident, as well as his lack of courage in battle and military incompetence. Luckily for him, he is surrounded by protectors, especially his best friend Marcus Agrippa—as loyal as he is heroic. Even though Octavius is Julius Caesar’s heir, it seems that his rise to power is not guaranteed:
Oppius gazed at the steely-eyed youth. Thunder rumbled ahead.
“No more will I wear this funeral toga. This son should avenge his father, not mourn him,” Octavius expressed, as much to himself as the centurion.
“I will not lie to you Gaius, this could well be a suicide mission that we’re on,” Oppius issued whilst placing a hand on the youth’s shoulder.
Octavius appreciated the centurion’s candour and, with a wry smile lining his features, replied, “Julius would’ve liked those odds.”
And indeed, trouble is on the horizon. There still remains to be a showdown between Marc Antony and Caesar’s murderers. Octavian experiences his fair share of unscrupulous attacks. The triumvirate is still far in the future, so we have a long way to go before he even becomes princeps. There are not really any surprises in this book, but it reads very well and gives us a firm foundation for the series.