Cover Image: I Am Rome

I Am Rome

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Member Reviews

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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Unfortunately this was a DNF. I could not get through it. Nothing really stood out or was special enough to keep me engaged.

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Julius Caesar is one of those historical figures that have fascinated me ever since I could remember. But, when I tried to read books (mainly nonfiction) that described his reign over the Roman Empire, it would bore me. I also couldn’t find a historical fiction that stuck to the facts. Because of that, I was hesitant to accept the widget when Random House sent me it. But I did, and oh boy, I am glad that I did. This book was fantastic.

I Am Rome is well-written, well-researched historical fiction that captivated me from the prologue. This book is over 600 pages long, and its length can be slow. I normally cannot deal with a slow, long book, but in this case, it worked. I could process the different parts of Julius Caesar’s life without getting overwhelmed by the information given.

The story of Julius Caesar is told in two storylines. The first storyline revolves around Julius Caesar and the trial where he prosecuted Senator Dolabella, a morally and politically corrupt politician. The second storyline follows Julius Caesar from birth to the years before he took the Senator Dolabella case. I was interested in the trial storyline (I liked how Caesar pleaded his case and presented the witnesses/evidence against Dolabella), but it was a little dry. The second storyline explained almost everything brought up in the first storyline. Yes, I know that what I said is phrased awkwardly, but it will make sense if you read the book.

What I loved about this book is that the author included footnotes at the end of each chapter. He also gave direct quotes about where cities would be in the present day and other interesting tidbits of information, so I was not left wondering about anything.

The undercurrent of I Am Rome is a love story between Cornelia and Caesar. I don’t know if Caesar truly loved Cornelia in real life, but he adored her in this book. And she returned his feelings. They did run up against a few obstacles, but love trumped everything. I adored reading their interactions because Caesar truly seemed to consider what Cornelia said.

I Am Rome is violent and bloody. The author didn’t attempt to sugarcoat the violence. He laid it all out there. Some scenes made me retch, and others made me furious. But, I kept in the back of my mind that it was in context with the period in which it was written. I did provide a list of trigger warnings above.

The end of I Am Rome was very suspenseful. The author merged the two storylines at the perfect moment. While the trial ended in a way that I expected, I was not expecting what happened after. The author left the book open for book 2; I can’t wait to read it!!

Many thanks to Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine, Ballantine, NetGalley, and Santiago Posteguillo for allowing me to read and review this ARC of I Am Rome. All opinions stated in this review are mine.

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If you're anything like me, you spent a good portion of high school up to your ears in the history of Julius Caesar. Even if you didn't, history and literature both remember him for his many achievements. But I Am Rome brings him and his family to life in an intriguing way: through the trial of Gnaeus Cornelius Dolabella.

While extremely non-linear in nature, I Am Rome uses this historic trial as a centerpiece. Caesar, then an untested prosecutor, steps up to bring Dolabella to justice for extortion and other crimes. As Caesar prepares his case, we witness the building blocks of his genius approach: the influence of his uncle Marius, his relationship with his wife Cornelia, and the wisdom of his mother Aurelia, to name a few. From tricking his opponents into underestimating him to combating very real threats against his life and the lives of his witnesses, Caesar battles his way to the end of the case. But whether he wins or loses, his loved ones know he has a target on his back.

I Am Rome is, understandably, a dense read—something to bear in mind on approach. While there are plenty of footnotes and the final edition will have historical endnotes, it's something to bear in mind. If the Roman Empire isn't, well, your Roman Empire, the convoluted timeline of the book may not hold your interest. However, the core of the book is fascinating, especially in its humanization of its many legendary historical figures. I was hoping to give credit to the translator, but sadly have had difficulty finding their name. They do, however, deserve credit for a job well done here.

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As someone interested in historical fiction as well as the Roman era, this book intrigued me. I was unfamiliar with the author prior to reading this but have found that he has done other historical fiction works previously.
Many books have covered Julius Caesar's career and military campaigns however few, if any, have attempted to flesh out the younger Julius and his family during the period of Sulla. While enjoyable as a courtroom thriller, I am unsure how historically accurate the conflict between Julius and Sulla, especially at this period of Julius' life. Posteguillo's portrayal of Sulla reduces the man down to a 2 dimensional character which seems at odds to the historical Sulla.
Perhaps the issue lies in the translation but most of the characters appeared to have less depth than expected in this type of a novel.
While enjoyable for many of the historical and cultural touchpoints, I did find it difficult to continue, especially in the beginning half of the book. It did pick up in the second half and provided closure for most of the conflicts introduced while leaving space for sequels to continue the story.

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I have read a lot of books of Rome and Julius Caesar. These would include many history books as well as the outstanding histoical series by Colleen McCullouh series In the Masters of Rome series. It is almost like what more could be said about Julius Caesar! Well I'm wrong I am Rome is a book that will make you dive back in the world of Rome and Julius Caesar and see that we are prcatically repeating history as we speak. That is what is most exciting about this Italian novel that became a huge international bestseller. The author makes puts the feelings of the past into writing that makes it seems like it's happening today. It reads like a thriller and keeps you turning the pages. Who would ever though that you could take Julius Caesar and make him into a contemporary thriller and have you learn about history and democracy. Thank you to #ballantinebooks and #netgalley I had so much fun reading this book and made me realize that once you live in a state of democracy you should never let it go no matter who tries to end it!!

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When someone thinks of Julius Caesar, Shakespeare’s play or his murder on the Ides of March immediately come to mind. Santiago Posteguillo presents a young Caesar and the people and events that shaped his life. .From a child beset by bullies to the young man who takes a case that he can not win, he was destined for greatness. Senator Dolabella served as the governor of Macedonia, a position he used to steal, embezzle and abuse his power. Now the people of Macedonia want him to stand trial for his crimes. Dolabella was an ally of the emperor Sulla and a leader of the optimates, a class of rich and powerful men. With the odds stacked against him, Caesar represents the populares and even a defeat will help shape the leader he becomes.

Posteguillo gives his story a cinematic feel, making it easy to visualize the battles both in court and in the fields. Caesar’s uncle, Gaius Marius, uses his battle against the Teutons to teach his nephew the importance of timing your battles rather than rushing to attack. It is a lesson that serves him well. Caesar risks everything in his defiance of Sulla and Posteguillo’s tale shows all of the harsh realities and the politics of Ancient Rome. Well written and an interesting read for fans of history, I Am Rome is highly recommended. I would like to thank NetGalley and Random House - Ballantine for providing this book for my review.

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This novel follows, a young Gaius Julius Caesar in his early years as he matures into an adult and a formidable opponent to the corrupt optimates party. The story does an excellent job of balancing the narrative of the pivotal trial of Dolabella with flashbacks to moments in Caesar’s life that influence his actions in court. I very much enjoyed this engaging historical novel. 5 stars.

Review based on a digital Advanced Reader’s Copy provided by Random House Publishing Group - Ballantine/Ballantine Books and NetGalley. Thank you!

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