For one to rule, the other must die.
312 AD is a year of horrific and brutal warfare. Constantine's northern army is a small force, plagued by religious rivalries, but seemingly unstoppable as they invade Maxentius' Italian heartlands. These relentless clashes, incidents of treachery, and twists of fortune see Maxentius' armies driven back to Rome. Constantine has his prize in sight, yet his army is diminished and on the verge of revolt. Maxentius meanwhile works to calm a restive and dissenting Roman populace. When the two forces clash in the Battle of the Milvian Bridge, there are factors at work beyond their control and soon they are left with carnage.
There is only one way Constantine and Maxentius' rivalry will end. With one on a bloodied sword and the other the sole ruler of Rome...
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I have been looking forward to the conclusion of this trilogy ever since reading book one, and Gods of Rome finishes it off wonderfully. It is a true testament to the writers that while knowing the outcome at the beginning of book one, I still flew through this book rooting for the man I knew would lose the battle and the war. By not casting either Maxentius or Constantine as the hero or the villain, but just as men of their times, it allows you to understand how they ended up where there did. The best historical fiction opens a window that not only allows you an understanding of the events that occurred, but it gives you a connection to the people who lived at that time and this series does exactly that. Constantine's march on Rome, the planning, execution and use of his troops during battles is eye-opening to read, while also a horrifying look at the cost in lives. You also know the authors have done their jobs brilliantly when the first thing you do upon finishing is search all the main players in the story for more information about their lives and see just how far reaching their impact really was. You certainly do not have to have any background knowledge of this time to truly enjoy this series and learn a lot. I so thoroughly enjoyed this entire trilogy and cannot recommend it enough to anyone who is a fan of the time period or if you just want to learn more about these remarkable individuals.
Gods of Rome is book three in the series, and it culminates in the most glorious battle for Rome. I've read and enjoyed the whole series now, which is no surprise as I'm a huge fan of historical fiction. The strongest part of this enjoyable series for me has always been the two main characters, Constantine and Maxentius. Neither of them is portrayed as a typical hero or villain, but they are wonderfully flawed and so human. Both make good and bad decisions and have to go through difficult times. Their character development was a pleasure to read. Honestly, I wanted both of them to win because I liked them so much. I#ve always been interested in history, so I knew the likely ending of the book before I started reading. But that is often the case in historical fiction, and for me, the journey is just as enjoyable as the conclusion. It's always interesting to see how authors solve problems and come up with their own take on the story. In this case, I had a rough idea of what would happen but didn't know too much about the time period. So I especially loved that I learned so much while reading an excellent book. You can really feel how well researched the series is and it transports you right back to ancient Rome. The writing is excellent, and the two authors work perfectly together. All in all, if you're interested in history and Rome, I highly recommend this series!
This is the final book in the impressive trilogy and it has been patiently building to this moment - the decisive summer of 312AD. Alternating chapters follow Constantine and Maxentius (the Eastern candidate-Emperors, Licinius and Daia are left a bit out of the picture). It is a complex situation: all sense of ‘togetherness’ has vanished, every group, each individual seems self-divided, and true authority remains elusive. As it opens it looks like Constantine has been dealt a bad hand - his army is split between pagan tribes (Petulantes) and Christian ones (Cornuti), his former friend Maxentius is now his firm enemy and knows his deep vulnerabilities, and even his wife (Maxentius’ sister) seems alienated from him. We soon learn things seem little better for his rival Maxentius, but it is Constantine that has to make a move to claim the imperial throne. The trilogy is quite an achievement, as it focuses on the decade or so before 312 AD that historians have tended to avoid. It is a decade of jockeying for position with multiple contenders making simultaneous plays for complete power and brokering faithless peaces. But it is like a Mexican-standoff - lots of tension little direct action. This is part of a recent historical fiction preference for such many-sided tussles. Strong recent examples are Fabbri’s series on Alexander’s Legacy series and Sidebottom’s Throne of the Caesars trilogy. I would say it has equal and opposed virtues to Goldsworthy’s novels. Goldsworthy excels and characterisation, dialogue, and localised events. Our authors not so much, but they have focused on the big narrative arcs and the grand historical scale. So, given that theirs is a decade of stalemate, they have applied literary imagination to bring out the dramatic potential. They have drawn upon the Game of Thrones precedent for political/personal/continental manoeuvres (though we have also been trained by multi-player strategy games). So, our authors here have played up a love-hate relationship between Constantine and Maxentius, supposed former friends; they have balanced close-up focus (military detail and geographical precision) with big picture geo-strategy, and they have shown how Christianity had become a growing social force, spurned and persecuted, eve self-divided: its disruptive potential entirely misunderstood and mis-managed. Naturally, the authors must have studied all kinds of sources to pin down the details. They don’t say so, but Rome’s Arch of Constantine must have been a key source. It shows the Petulantes joining the subsequent Triumph, which suggests they played a role in the fateful Battle of the Milvian Bridge. This final novel is about how Constantine must have got the pagan Petulantes on the same side as the Christian Cornuti.
would like to thank netgalley and the publisher for letting me read this outstanding book think Spartacus and vikings and you get how bloody and barbaric this book actually is..but its based on fact which i was astounded to read.... its a gruesome account of constantine and his battle to take back Rome, the battle scenes are legendary but its the betrayal around him that swings the battle towards the victor interesting read though at times hard with all those strange names but was interested to see how it all ended though i could have cheated and googled it i wanted to see for myself