If you like the old epic stories and movies that really delved into historical aspects of certain time periods and people, primarily Roman and Egyptian dynasties, the Marching with Caesar series, by R.W. Peake, would be a grand reading adventure for you. Just like those four-hour length dramas, his series of books are some 500 pages each, and this fourth novel, Marching with Caesar-Antony and Cleopatra, Part II-Cleopatra, is 600 large. While editions that giant could deter someone looking for a quick and fun weekend read, those who really enjoy digging into and collecting books full of historical research and strong characters lifted from the pages of time will treasure this series.
Peake does his best job with his skillful writing at making what could seem a monumental reading task one that is absorbing and enjoyable. Though he tries, and I feel accomplishes, to stay authentic to historical research, the writing is not bound like a textbook (though these could be possibly used for reference or in the college classroom), but easily readable, flowing, and the characters engaging and natural. I haven’t read the rest of the series, but I am assuming it is much the same, and this fourth book was a poignant look at this time period.
Peake presents Cleopatra in a way that I have wished more authors and historians would by showing her motivations and her heart. I know she can be called one of the worst leaders in history and we all remember her for her love affairs with those pesky Roman conquerors, but she was much more than that. She was strong, brave, and ambitious and Peake delivers on bringing to light a more plausible Cleopatra. His portrayal of Octavian is on point to me–a man I never did like for his extensive ego.
Though I do believe that probably more of his series, with its heavy Roman military angle, will appeal to males who enjoy Roman Empire or military history, women will enjoy this last book too if they like Roman history, especially during the time period of their relations with Egypt which features Cleopatra. Learning about such a powerful woman leading in the midst of such political men can be fun right?! It also has relationship drama, mystery, and a compelling plot. For any reader, I am fairly certain these books will transport them into this time and place as it did me. Peake’s writing is superb and he takes care to immerse the reader into intricate details that create an ambiance of the era.
This series would make a GREAT television mini-series or historical series such as they did with ROME (but better) or SPARTACUS. He’s prepared everything for them to make a well-done show, including amazing character development. I know this author is self-published and sometimes that will raise a red flag to readers, but don’t let that happen here. He’s a talented writer who is very knowledgable and can bring a proper military perspective to his books while at the same time softening the right moments as well. I hope to go back and read the rest of the book in his series too as I very much enjoyed his fourth book, Marching with Caesar, Antony and Cleopatra, Part II.
MARCHING WITH CAESAR: ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA, PART II-CLEOPATRA, Synopsis~
In the fourth book of the critically acclaimed Marching With Caesar series, Titus Pullus and his 10th Legion are still in the thick of the maelstrom that follows after the assassination of Gaius Julius Caesar. With the disastrous campaign in Parthia behind them, Mark Antony continues his struggle with Octavian, both men vying for ultimate control of Rome. Enter Cleopatra VII, the Pharaoh of Egypt and mother of Julius Caesar’s son, who harbors ambitions and dreams of her own. Through her son Caesarion, Cleopatra is a powerful player in her own right in the continuing drama being played out for control of the most powerful society on Earth. With Cleopatra combining forces with Mark Antony, Octavian, the legitimate heir to Caesar’s fortune is facing the most formidable barrier to his ascendancy yet. Through it all, Titus Pullus and his men must tread a very careful path as the two forces head for an inevitable showdown at a place called Actium.
Author R.W. Peake’s Autobiography~
I am a retired Marine, with a primary MOS of 0311, although over the years I picked up a few other designators, but I guess I will always think of myself as a grunt. I was born and raised in Houston, and have only recently relocated to the Olympic Peninsula of Washington. After my medical retirement from the Marines and realizing that my experience at locating, closing with and destroying the enemy by fire and maneuver was not exactly going to have employers knocking down my door, I decided to earn a Bachelor’s degree, majoring in History, with a goal of teaching. Then my daughter came to live with me full-time, and while thrilled, I learned very quickly that a teacher’s salary would not support her in the style in which she was accustomed.
So I went into the software business, starting at a small startup that I stayed at for 10 years, clawing my way to middle management, to echo a commercial of that era. My company went public, and I had these things called stock options, so for a brief period of time I was one of those tech paper millionaires. Then the great NASDAQ crash of 2000 happened, and I was a working stiff again. When my company got bought in 2006 by one of the largest software companies in the world, I very quickly learned that working for a big company was not for me, so I took the lure of the (relatively) big bucks as a VP of a much smaller company. It was the worst professional mistake of my life, but the one good thing that did come out of it is that my dissatisfaction drove me to consider taking a risk on something that those who know me had pushed me to do as long as I can remember, and that was to write.
I must admit that I have always enjoyed writing; in fact; I wrote my first novel at 10ish, featuring myself and all of my friends from the street where I lived who almost singlehandedly fought off a Soviet invasion. I was heavily influenced by WWII history at that time, it being my second historical passion after the Civil War, so our stockpile of weapons consisted almost exclusively of Tommy guns, M1’s, etc. Why the Russians chose my particular street to focus their invasion I didn’t really go into, but after a series of savage, bloody battles, my friends and I were forced to make a strategic withdrawal to the only other part of the world I was familiar with at that time, the Silverton area of Colorado. I recently re-read this magnus opus, and it is interesting to track the course of my friendships with the core group that were the main characters of my novel. Some sort of argument or disagreement would result in the inevitable serious wounding of the friend with whom I quarreled, and depending on how serious it was, they might linger for days, clinging to life before they recovered, but not after suffering excruciating pain.
From that beginning, through my adult life, I was always told that I showed talent as a writer, but it wasn’t until I hit the age of 50 that I decided it was time to find out if that were true. And the result is Marching With Caesar-Conquest of Gaul, the first in a completed trilogy that is the story of one of the lucky few men who managed to survive and retire, after rising through the ranks of the 10th Legion. I hope that you enjoy following Titus Pullus’ exploits as much as I enjoyed bringing him to life.
For more information, please visit R.W. Peake’s website.
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