Cover Image: I Am Rome

I Am Rome

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Member Reviews

I ended up DNFing this one. From reading the synopsis it sounded very interesting, but the writing was just too dry and dense. It was written very well, but I knew from the first few chapters that it wasn’t going to be the type of book I would enjoy.

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Thank you NetGalley for an ARC of this book. This book was AMAZING. I truly felt like I was in Ancient Rome behind the scenes of power. Posteguillo does an amazing job of background research. This is the first book that made me want to learn Latin so I could sort out what all the names mean. The level of intrigue is completely plausible and the story makes you wish you were there. Read this book. This may be a bit too intense for a book club, I think some might not enjoy it. Put it on your TBR pile and thank me later

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I greatly overestimated my interest in the Roman empire and Julius Caesar. It was a detailed and well written accounting of his life but unfortunately it was so incredibly long. I had a difficult time getting into it.

Thank you, Netgalley and the publisher for allowing me an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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"I Am Rome" by Santiago Posteguillo is an exciting journey back to ancient Rome, where we follow a young Gaius Julius Caesar as he faces his first big legal case. The book dives deep into the political drama and power struggles of the Roman Republic, giving us a peek into Caesar's early life and challenges.

The story kicks off with Caesar deciding to prosecute a powerful senator named Gnaeus Cornelius Dolabella for being corrupt. We get to see Caesar dealing with all sorts of issues, from family conflicts to tricky political situations.

Posteguillo does a great job mixing real history with some made-up storytelling to bring ancient Rome to life, but some readers might feel the pacing is slow, especially during the trial preparations, but then at other times he jumps around. The prose did the same, sometimes feeling too modern. And the text is heavy, very heavy. Sometimes it reads more like a history book than a novel with footnotes and extensive Latin references. There is nothing about this book written for readers who are not deeply into this era of history. And while the characters are interesting too, they could have been developed a bit more in a relatable way emotionally.

Overall, "I Am Rome" is a fun read for history buffs and fans of ancient Rome. It might not be perfect, and I wonder if some of the dialogue and Latin details got lost in translation from the original language. Still, it's worth checking out for its immersive dive into Roman politics and culture.

Thank you to NetGalley and Ballantine Books for allowing me to read this ARC for an honest review.

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If you are looking for an entertaining tome of fiction about the formative years of Julius Caesar, this is the book for you. There's a lot of story here, covering his youth through his early days as an upstart lawyer. The book is framed around the trial of Dolabella, a corrupt senator with no scruples and bearing considerable animosity towards young Caesar. We go back and forth in time, always coming back to the trial.

There's a lot of background reminiscing with Caesar's uncle (and mentor) Gaius Marius, himself a military hero and leader. There's Caesar meeting his wife Cornelia for the first time and their story. There are battle stories, there are stories his mother Aurelia has told him since birth. We find out why Dolabella has nothing but contempt for Caesar (it goes way back). There's a lot packed into these 600+ pages. What's not here, however, is the rest of the story. I kept waiting for Cleopatra to show up! My bad.

The ARC did not contain an author's note, acknowledgements, historical note, or bibliography, all which would have enhanced both my enjoyment and understanding of this novel, and how it fits into Posteguillo's series arc. I Am Rome is the first of a series.

My thanks to NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group - Ballantine for the ARC.

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I love books about Ancient Rome, but I just couldn't get into I Am Rome. Not sure if it was because it was a translation or something else. It was a DNF for me, unfortunately.

I am a library associate and received an advance copy from #NetGalley.

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It has taken me a while to write this review because this is one of my most disliked books of the year so far. Part of the problem is that this is a book written for men who think of the Roman Empire every day. The version of Roman history most of those people think about is the history of great men and their great deeds. As a historian, I find this history to be the least interesting.

On top of that, I have taught a course on the history of ancient civilizations and the modern world. I have spent a lot of time thinking about the version of Roman history that most people attach themselves to and why. As a result, "I Am Rome," to me, feeds on the worst versions of this history and the erroneous ways in which we seek to attach ourselves to that history.

There is nothing in "I Am Rome" that interests me, and there is nothing to learn that you can't get from a Wikipedia article on Julius Ceasar. There is a readership for this, and I am sure the book will find those readers. It just was not for me.

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Greed, brutality, and a lust for power form the backdrop of this historic tale depicting a young Julius Caesar entering the political climate of 100 BCE Rome. At the moment, he’s just a budding attorney who dares to take on a ruthless, war mongering general, a megalomaniac known to kill to get his way. Caesar knows that as lead prosecutor in this case, he’s placing himself and his family in grave danger. But the future of Rome, and Caesar’s own place in history are at stake. Not surprising, politics was a very dirty business then. Also not surprising, the reader can’t help but draw some rather uncomfortable parallels to society and politics today. The story portrays Caesar as a person, with family, friends, and aspirations for the future. That is, if he lives long enough to have one. An intelligent piece of writing that combines plausibility and history. I recommend it!

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An immersive journey into the tumultuous world of politics, betrayal, and courage, reminding us why Julius Caesar's name echoes through the annals of history. Set in 77 B.C. Rome, the novel follows the gripping trial of corrupt Senator Dolabella. With the city in turmoil and justice hanging in the balance, an unlikely hero emerges in the form of a twenty-three-year-old named Gaius Julius Caesar. As Caesar steps forward to confront the power of the ruling elite, readers are swept up in a tale of epic proportions, filled with intrigue, betrayal, and the timeless struggle for justice.

Posteguillo's masterful prose transports readers to the heart of ancient Rome, where the streets thrum with tension and every shadow conceals a secret. From the opulent halls of power to the gritty underbelly of the city, the atmosphere crackles with energy, drawing readers into a world teetering on the brink of revolution.

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This story is a Spanish translation of a fictional account of the early public life of Julius Caesar. That is what is most enjoyable in this recounting, because it is historical fiction it gives life and personality to Caesar and those around him. The circumstances in Rome at the time of young Caesar was a succession of consuls and the constant struggle between the optimates and populares. Asassination of political players was commonplace and loyalty was questionable. Here Posteguillo makes Marius, Cinna, Sulla, Aurelia and Caesar come alive on his pages.
If you have interest in this time and of Caesars early career this is an interesting and entertaining read.
Thank you to Netgalley and Ballantine publishing.

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My thoughts on the story haven't changed, but having read the original novel and the translation both, I think the translator chosen for this might not have as much experience in Roman history and Latin as would've been preferable.

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The recent English translation of Santiago Posteguilllo’s novel I Am Rome is another instance where the description caught my attention and had me imagining the novel would be one thing but then it turned out to be something a bit different – still enjoyable but a very different shape to what I’d been expecting. While the heart of the novel is very much the trial that helped jump-start the career of Julius Caesar, the structure that is used to lay that story out delved so much deeper and further back in not just Caesar’s personal history but the history of Rome and its empire and politics. The jumping back and forth took some getting used to and made it difficult at times to keep details of the trial straight (especially through the first half of the novel), but in the end it was those extended flashbacks that I enjoyed more than the drama of the trial which succeeded in being infuriating and frustrating (perhaps even more than intended) given that corruption is one of the key charges.

Rome has long been ruled primarily by a powerful and corrupt group called the optimates, though they’ve often faced significant opposition by another party, the populares. But as Julius Caesar came of age, the pendulum had swung heavily in favor of the optimates and the populares were nearly wiped out after the death of Caesar’s uncle – the military hero Gaius Marius. The balance of power has swung so far towards the optimates that one of the late dictator Sulla’s most loyal supporters, Dolabella is sure to be completely cleared of the heinous he committed while acting as governor of Macedonia (crimes that include rape, desecration of the local temple to Aphrodite, and levying taxes that went solely to lining his own pockets). Julius Caesar pushes to become the prosecutor at Dolabella’s trial, even if it means making enemies of those in power. After all, it isn’t the first time he’s stood by his principles in the face of their tyranny and it won’t be the last. He doesn’t just want to make his name with this case – he hopes to uphold the legacy of his uncle who taught him so much about who, when, and how to fight.

Unsurprisingly, power and corruption are major themes throughout the novel as Caesar must learn how to navigate Roman politics for his basic survival. The flashbacks are woven in between the major events of the trial and focus on specific periods of, not just Caesar’s history, but the lives of key figures in the trial itself, laying out just how many people and factors played a role in how Rome got to the point of such a trial. Of course, it also shows all the factors that went into shaping Julius Caesar as he embarks on the trial – young, idealistic, and still naïve in a lot of ways. Mostly knowing about Caesar through his infamous end, it was intriguing to see the seeds laid for both his rise but also his ultimate fall.

While I’d been thinking the trial would be the main focus and that it would be what drove the story, it ended up proving to be more of a framework for telling the backstory of Caesar and the “recent” history of Rome itself. I actually found the forays into military battles to be the most compelling parts of the novel, not just for the well-constructed action sequences, but because of the politicking behind the battles. Gaius Marius is an incredibly compelling figure whose presence is felt throughout the novel and whose guiding hand sets Caesar on his path and influences his decisions.

From what I have seen online, a second novel in this series was released this year in the original Spanish so I suppose I will have to wait another year or two for that one to be released in English. Given where I Am Rome ends, I have high hopes that the next book will be worth the wait (it will also give me more time to brush up on my Roman history – I was very glad to have read A Rome of One’s Own so recently).

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After being initially drawn in with the details of the trial and Julius Caesar's work to earn the position as prosecutor, the story really slowed down for me. I expected there to be quite a bit more time spent on the trial itself, which was the focus on page only around what felt like 15-20% of the story. The rest of the book is structured as long flashbacks from the perspectives of various important figures in Caesar's life and their influence on or interactions with him. The initial flashbacks were focused on Marius and were very battle focused. This was where I really lost some interest. The promised detail of the great love story between Caesar and Cornelia was disappointing and quite honestly uncomfortable with some of the language and depiction when she was only 11 and he was 15. While I am well aware that this was expected at the time in which it was set, it is the description and expectation that this was a love story at those ages, is what I did not like.

If you are looking for an in depth look at the early life of Julius Caesar before his rise to fame, this book is likely for you. If you like me are mistakenly expecting the story to focus more around his time as a lawyer and prosecutor for the famous Dollabella case, the book may leave you unsatisfied.

Thank you to NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group/Ballantine Books for an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. All expressed opinions are my own.

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I am Rome is a fascinating historical retelling of Julius Cesar. Think Shakespeares retelling but it more of a narrative, fictional format. If you like literary historical fiction or the story of Cesar, I highly recommend this book! It is a tome though so ensure that you have enough time to devote to it. A well-written journey to Ancient Rome!

Thanks to the publisher for providing the arc via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Enthralling…A journey back to ancient Rome and a look at the political landscape. I loved reading the author’s portrayal of Julius Caesar’s early life.
Many thanks to Random House and to Netgalley for providing me with a galley in exchange for my honest opinion.

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Santiago Posteguillo builds a gripping case for the character of Julius Caesar, even as the Spanish author constructs a narrative based on an against-all-odds court case prosecuted by the young Caesar. The court scenes are thrilling, as are the flashback epic Roman battles. Caesar takes on the corrupt and horribly no-good Senator Dolabella as he remembers personal trials and tribulations, as well as lessons passed down by his uncle Gaius Marius, a seven-term consul and popular military leader. I absolutely devoured this historical fiction novel, translated from the Spanish by Frances Riddle. A truly remarkable book that makes me want to get in line for the second in the Julio César series, which has recently (Nov. 2023) been published in the original Spanish. So it's only a matter of time before that (896-page!!) tome will be translated. 

[Thanks to Random House Publishing Group - Ballantine and NetGalley for an opportunity to read an advanced reader copy and share my opinion of this book.]

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This book was unexpected. I enjoy historical fiction so was willing to give it a try especially as it was about Julius ceasar. I was so enthralled I could not wait to read it between my other activities. It alternates timelines so you do have to pay attention. I could not believe how fascinated I was by the Battle scenes and the strategy. His family was so intriguing. I wish I knew what was true vs dramatized or speculation. I hope his wife and mother really were that strong and great as well as his best friend.

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I appreciate the depth of characters and descriptions in this novel, but sometimes had trouble following the plot and remembering who the different characters were. Perhaps, a character map at the front of the book would be helpful. This is definitely a great book for fans of Julius Caesar and that period of history.

3 stars

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A captivating account of the early life of Julius Caesar and his rise to fame on the Roman political scene. This historical fiction novel covers the story of a trial before the Roman Court of Justice where Julius Caesar takes on the powerful senator Dollabella. No lawyer is willing to take up this case and Caesar comes against his own uncle acting as defense for the accused senator. Told from the point of view of several characters this is an enthralling tale of the history of Rome, Julius Caesar's childhood, his marriage to Cornelia, his constant battle with corrupt senators and his early military pursuits . I understand this is part of a series and I will eagerly wait for the next instalment . Thank you Netagalley and Random House Ballantine for the ARC

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I will start by saying this is not typically the kind of novel I like or read. However, as I started reading all of the historical detail, the detail of Roman life all those years ago as well as the political intrigue within this book I was hooked. The character development in this book was superb and it made me feel like I was in Rome while reading pages within the book. I was pleasantly surprised by this book and look forward to the next one by Santiago Posteguillo. Thanks NetGalley for the ARC for my review.

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