Cover Image: I Am Rome

I Am Rome

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

This book is told in different timelines from Julius Caesar as a baby when his father interacted with Donabella and The good men of Rome thought him a try hard until the day the terrorist is put on trial. When they can’t find a prosecutor and come to a young Julius Caesar and despite his friends telling him not to get involved he does anyway and this is when the trial starts. Although the author got many dates wrong for the most part this was a very interesting story told with high drama and a fast narrative. I am not immersed in the happenings of ancient Rome enough to see all the historical details that were wrong in this book but when I see one I know there must be others but having said that if you’re just out for entertainment this is a great book to read I think I may even read the next one. I’ve never read a book by this author before but as far as recommending this one I definitely do books are meant for entertainment and this one definitely entertained as I said. I want to thank the publisher and Net Galley for my free arc copy please forgive any mistakes as I am blind and dictate my review.

Was this review helpful?

Rome, 77 B.C. The corrupt Senator Dolabella is about to go on trial for his crimes. But Dolabella owns the jury. He’s hired the best lawyers in the city. And he’s very willing to use violence against those who oppose him. In all of Rome, no man dares accept the role of prosecutor—until, against all odds, an unknown twenty-three-year-old steps out to lead the case, defend the people of the city, and defy the power of the ruling elite. That lawyer’s name is Gaius Julius Caesar.

When I first read the premise about this book, I thought it sounded interesting. Once I started reading it, well, not so much. I really enjoyed the parts about Julius Caesar's life, as well as the trial. The sections on the different wars during that time period, quite frankly, made my eyes glaze over. Not because they were badly written, but rather because I am not a fan of reading about battles. Unfortunately there seemed to be an equal amount of sections of each. Also, I want to warn you.... this book is 624 pages. That alone is daunting, and when you are reading something you don't enjoy, it feels like an eternity. Overall, I give this a 3.5 rounded up to a 4.

Was this review helpful?

Not for those looking for a light or quick read, I Am Rome is an epic historical thriller centered around a young Julius Caesar. At over 600 pages in text, this book is lengthy but rewarding.

I was intimidated by the length but intrigued enough by the premise that I wanted to give I Am Rome a try. The book was originally published in Spain but was later translated to English (among other languages. The translation is great—you won’t know that this was written in a different language. The audiobook was the way to go for me because it allowed me to adjust the speed as it suited me and because the narrator, Dan Bittner, is very engaging and brought the story to life. I highly recommend doing the audiobook!

Part historical fiction, part legal thriller, I Am Rome begins in 77 B.C and moves back and forth through different time periods throughout the life of Julius Caesar, with emphasis on his younger years. Even before his birth, Rome was heading towards a time of war and political unrest. Many powerful senators have built fortunes in Rome that lead them to believe they are superior to others and favored by the Gods. As a young infant, Julius is told by his mother Aurelia before he can even understand it that he will be the chosen one whose destiny it is to win the war that is simmering in Rome demanding more equality in wealth and power.

While the select few aristocratic senators continue to get richer and gain more territory, the majority of people in Rome are plagued by poverty. A former dictator decreed that senators can only be tried by other senators, making their power in Rome even greater. At the age of only twenty-three, young Senator Julius Caesar is selected to prosecute Senator Dolabella—a particularly corrupt politician known for violence. A rather naïve Caesar believes that through a trial—no matter how corrupted by Dolabella—he can try to secure justice for the people who have been wronged by the Senator. Julius Caesar is not the first to petition for reform in Rome, but he is the one brave enough to prosecute the Senator.

At this time it was not uncommon for someone to be assassinated for opposing political views, putting Julius at great risk to his own life by proceeding with the trial and opposing the ruling faction of the Roman Empire. Through flashbacks, we learn more and Julius Caesar’s life leading to this point, and what prompted him to take on this battle of injustice at his own personal risk. In the present timeline (in 77 B.C.) the trial is chronicled.

Julius Caesar is thought to be too young to make much difference—a mistaken view that he leverages to his advantage. Throughout the recent timeline we see the way those in his life are affected. His closest friend tells him that taking the case is a suicide mission. Sulla—the former dictator of Rome—orders Julius to divorce his wife Cornelia. Julius refused, and the two have a daughter.

The Julius Caesar portrayed in I Am Rome is shown to greatly respect the women in his life—his wife and mother in particular. This is a contradiction to what would have been common at the time, so I was curious when reading this if that portrayal was the author’s decision or if it was historically accurate.

The story is complex and long—not easily digested in a short time. I broke the audiobook up and listened to only a small portion each day for several weeks, which allowed me to take in the incredible amount of research and history woven into the book, as well as understand the complexities of the political landscape. I often felt that the current state of the United States is really not so far from some of the aspects presented in the Roman Empire.

The characterizations are light on development. I didn’t connect to any characters, nor did it seem I was encouraged to. The book reads more like someone is narrating a story to the reader, rather than the reader feeling like an active participant in it. Similarly, the dialogue often didn’t feel like real dialogue, but it did sort of remind me of dialogue from ancient texts (such as the bible) where the words used were not what is important, the points being made are.

I can’t speak to the historical accuracy of this book, but some other reviews go into much greater detail on it. If you’re interested, I encourage you to check those out! I would be doing a disservice if I tried to capture what different historians have shared. Given my lack of deep knowledge on Julius Caesar and the Roman Empire, I happily read this like a fabled version of events, with plenty of creative liberties taken to bring the story to life.

The length was intimidating—I might have preferred if there was a way to break this into two books. That being said, many readers love an epic novel and this certainly delivers that. I was interested in the story and the narration by Dan Bittner kept me engaged through the duller or drawn out moments.

My only advice to readers (other than doing the audiobook and checking out some of the historians take on the accuracy of this portrayal) is to give the beginning section a slower read to orient yourself to what is happening. If you are relatively shallow in your knowledge, it can take a bit to get the hang of the names, places, and time periods being discussed.

An impressive work of historical fiction.

Thank you to Ballantine Books for my copy. Opinions are my own.

Was this review helpful?

This was a hit and a miss for me. I thought that the book was a little too long. I also found that the translation to English didn't flow very well. I did find the history about Caesar to be very interesting, but I found that the information provided by Posteguillo was not historically accurate.

Was this review helpful?

4.5/5
Thanks to Ballantine Books and Netgalley for the ARC.

Yes, I am thinking about Roman Empire,,,,,,and this novel is absolutely terrific!! So glad I saw this and then found out it's the first English translation of one of his novels. If you love anything about Rome and historical fiction, then you have to pick up this book. Santiago has a wonderful way of taking quite a list of facts and weaving them into a thoroughly compelling and engrossing story. I Am Rome focuses on the early life of Julius Caesar, particularly his first time as a prosecutor in the Roman courts. While I was familiar with some of the people surrounding Caesar, like Gaius Marius, learning all the details of his life in this format was fascinating. I liked the structure of the novel with the events of the trial being sprinkled between earlier events in Caesar's life. It really builds the story throughout while providing the necessary details of the political situation in that time period. It says quite a lot that the situation then is so reminiscent of what is happening in our political environment today. I highly recommend this story for all history fans, and I know that I will be eagerly awaiting a chance to read another book by Santiago in the future!!

Was this review helpful?

Ooph – this was at times fascinating and enchanting, and at others, well, a slog. This book will best be enjoyed by people with a fairly strong background in ancient history and an interest in very detailed explanations of Roman politics, war, and class struggle. The author brought Caesar and his family to life for me, which I enjoyed. The depth of detail and abundant Latin terms made me wonder if the book wanted to be narrative non-fiction rather than historical fiction. I really wanted it to be more of a leisurely experience and much less academic in nature; I would have enjoyed it much more.

Thank you to Random House Publishing Group - Ballantine, Ballantine Books, Netgalley, and the author for early access to this work.

Was this review helpful?

I read this for the Julius Caesar of it all and stayed for the page turningness. I really enjoyed this and learned so much.

Was this review helpful?

I LOVED this book. Wow. I thought I knew what to expect with this story, but it was so much better than expected. Great writing, and interesting characters. Even though this is a long book, it kept my attention and I wanted to keep reading it all the time. Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for a digital ARC of this book.

Was this review helpful?

I am Rome is a fabulous well written historical fiction set in Ancient Rome one of my top favorite sets for this kind of novel.

The structure and format are clever with short chapters or sometimes scene breaks, different points of view, and flashbacks that balance the trial (in the novel's present time) with Caesar's childhood. It adds information on the characters and historical events (battles, betrayals, arranged marriages, or even murders) that justify and explain how young Caesar is prosecuting one of the cruelest, dishonorable, and corrupt senators putting justice for Rome above the safety of his life of his family.

Focused on show-not-tell the author gives us detailed insight into many aspects of Caeser's life but also goes to the length of proving a point by describing an entire battle in detail just to let us know (for example) why Marius advises his young nephew never to enter a battle he can't win.

These 600-and-something pages display a profound knowledge of the culture and historical events the fiction helps not making it a dull textbook. At the same time it has a very modern feeling and fighting corrupt politicians who silence witnesses with death or threats is still very relatable (unfortunately) to our times.

Caesar and Cornelia are my favorite characters and I loved their relationship. Everyone expects the young Caesar twenty-three years old to fail but he will accept to face this senator in trial with honor and powerful tools: knowledge and intelligence.

This will remain one of my favorite historical novels for a long time.

Thank you Netgalley and Publisher for this e-ARC.

Was this review helpful?

In this historical fiction novel, Santiago Posteguillo transports readers to ancient Rome. Young lawyer Julius Caesar faces a high-stakes case, pitting him against corrupt former governor Gnaeus Cornelius Dolabella. The book offers vivid insights into Roman history, though the storytelling style can be slow. Overall, it’s a captivating read for history enthusiasts.

Was this review helpful?

This was definitely something I normally wouldn’t read but I did find it to be a good slow burn. I would recommend it and say don’t give up keep on reading it and you won’t be disappointed.

Was this review helpful?

***ARC received from Ballantine Books and NetGalley in exchange for honest review, opinions are all my own. Thank you!***

I will be the first to admit that ancient Roman history is not my area of expertise but this book did interest me. This time of history is incredibly interesting and this books does a good job of covering it if it does feel a little disjointed.

For a book that is supposed to be about Julius Caesar it spends a huge chunk of its time on things other than Julius Caesar. It also jumps between the past and the present, sometimes sections of history that have nothing to do with Caesar. While I think it is trying to flesh out the back story of Caesar some felt like they were more about telling other characters history than Rome itself. They were interesting scenes but they really didn’t add anything to the story, even so I still liked reading on the history of the characters. It adds to their story even if not the overall story which was a shame and left me wondering if the book had stayed a little more focused if it would have been a better less disjointed story.

Caesar as a character is fine, if not a little too perfect. Everything he does it carefully constructed, even his supposed failures are potentially well calculated plans. Its a problem sometimes with court dramas that the attorneys are just a little too infallible and sometimes Caesar crosses that line. He is still an interesting character who is young and making mistakes but it would have been okay for him to have a few more flaws. I do think my favorite parts of the book are the women. Cornelia and Aurelia are strong females in a world that was very male dominated. Caesar at least seemed to know when to defer to the women in his life. And Caesar’s devotion to Cornelia is nice, refusing to set her aside when his life was potentially on the line. Secondary characters are somewhat fleshed out depending on which side they are on and there are a lot of secondary characters due to the nature of the book.

The books antagonists Sulla and Dolabella, were the weakest parts of the book. Both men are cast as so terrible they almost become caricatures of villains when compared to the righteous Caesar and other characters, including Gaius Marius. They lack depth as characters and just seem to be there to remind the readers how good Caesar is in comparison. While the two do have some interesting scenes, particularly during battles, there is one scene that felt like it didn’t belong at all. Almost written as though to bring some level of shock value to the book with how depraved these two men are, a scene the book didn’t need at all. The characters are already bad, the book has well established that and the scene went on far longer than was necessary to the point I started to skim through it. I don’t need depictions of graphic violence like that, war scenes are one thing this just felt over the stop.

I really liked when the book focused on the complexities of Roman politics and the court system itself. Who has power, how they gain and remain in power through bribes, strength and corruption.

Since this is a translated book sometimes dialogue and descriptions can get a bit stilted or unnatural to an English reader but I had no problem following along. Many of the descriptions of daily Roman life were interesting and the battles were easy to follow. Sometimes battle sequences in books can get a little chaotic and this book managed to handle that well even in the translation.

In the end I did like parts of I Am Rome but as a whole it felt a little disjointed. Scenes carried on longer than necessary, the jumps between time lines were not hard to follow but distracted from the main storyline. Perhaps with the backstory out of the way the second book is a little more straight forward, I would be interested to read it once translated.

Was this review helpful?

Thank you to Random House - Ballantine and Netgalley for an ARC in exchange for my honest review.

I can’t be 100% sure because this is a translation and maybe I just don’t like this particular translator, but I absolutely hated the writing style. The dialogue felt unnatural, there were multiple contradictions in the few chapters I read, and I had a hard time following it. I was also absolutely bored. Sometimes historical fiction is a miss for me, and this was so far off the mark. DNFed about 5 chapters in but I couldn’t read another 550+ pages.

Was this review helpful?

This book was just so interesting to me, the historical-fiction mix was soo good! We have THE Julius Cesar, who is a lawyer, trying to take down corruption in the city of Rome. This senator has everyone on his payroll, how is Julius going to do all of this?? This book gets dark and showed us the bad things that may have happened in those times.

Was this review helpful?

I think the translation was good. The story in general felt a bit disjointed and difficult for me to follow.

Was this review helpful?

I’ve aways found Rome interesting, so I was looking forward to reading the novel. Unfortunately, the novel did not fulfull my interest. There were way too many characters, and I struggled with the plot. The story was well researched and the writing was nicely done.

Thank you Santigo Posteguillo, Random House Books, and NetGalley for the opportunity of reading and reviewing the book.

Was this review helpful?

I'm not well-versed enough in Roman history and the history of Caesar to be able to comment on the historical inaccuracies, so I will leave that to other reviewers. From what I could notice though, there were definitely liberties taken and changes made, which in some cases is understandable, but in others is rather odd. Some of the side characters we may not have a lot of accurate information on, but Caesar is a very well-known historical figure with quite a bit of information about his life. The original Spanish cover of this book featured the tagline "the true history of Julius Caesar", which is something I'm glad was removed from the English translation, as it's basically stating this book is completely accurate, which it is not.

This book is part John Grisham legal thriller and part military strategy and battle. It jumps between timelines, with the present being the trial of Sulla, and the past moving from Caesar as a child, to his teenage years, and then into adulthood. It also features side parts dealing with other people in Caesar's life, such as his uncle Gaius Marius, his future wife Cornelia, and people who were sided with Sulla, such as Dolabella. Now I understand that the author wanted to set up the conflicts between Caesar, Sulla, and Dolabella, but it was taken way too far. Dolabella and Sulla are both characterized as villains with absolutely no redeeming qualities. They are brutal, sadistic, power hungry men who only care about riches and alcohol and women. Towards the end there is a scene involving Sulla, Dolabella, and a bunch of slaves that just seemed rather ridiculous. Caesar, on the other hand, is written as the hero who can do no wrong. It is basically the Mary Sue and the Villain archetypes, which is frustrating as these were real people with much more depth to them who deserve to be written better.

There are some instances where you can see the story trying to shine through. You can feel the frustrations of the people of Rome and those that were conquered, the tenseness and fear of battle, and the hopes of those trying to do what is right. However, they mostly get overshadowed by the rest of the story, as Caesar's heroics and Sulla and Dolabella's villainy have to be center stage. Had each of these people been written with a more realistic edge instead of by archetypes, it could have shifted the story greatly.

This isn't a terrible book, but I think those who are knowledgable about Roman history, particularly involving the times of Caesar, will find themselves frustrated at the liberties taken with the story and characters.

Was this review helpful?

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Santiago Posteguillo for providing me with a complimentary digital ARC for I Am Rome coming out March 5, 2024. The honest opinions expressed in this review are my own.

This is the first book I’ve read by this author. I love learning more about Ancient Rome, so I was really excited to check this out. I think it felt more like historical nonfiction to me. It was really well-researched and had a lot of detail about Julius Caesar. I was thinking it would be more like fiction. I would’ve liked a little more dialogue. I think it was a little long for me. But I really enjoyed the story. I think it was very similar to a Julius Caesar movie I watched a long time ago. I would check out more books by this author.

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys books about Ancient Rome!

Was this review helpful?

A challenging read. Fans of Roman history and historical fiction might enjoy this big novel about Caesar's rise to power- if they are patient and can deal with Latin in the text. This is heavy on minutia about Rome, which is interesting and oddly light on character and emotion. Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC. I'm sure others will appreciate this more than I did.

Was this review helpful?

I received an ARC from the publisher through NetGalley.

DNF at 5%

The writing style was completely not for me, unfortunately. The author chose to bounce in the time line and the entire narrative structure was basically delivered through very dense info-dumps in diagolue format. I am sure that the content is well-researched from the limited amount that I read, but the stylistic choice to break up the narrative into chunks to establish background, the initial petitioning of Caesar by the Macedonians for representation, then delving into the memories of Caesar's mother was just not a format I enjoy. This format continued through the rest of the book with a piece of the trial being followed by, what one would assume, is a relevant series of memories from an associated person.

I love Roman history, but will have to skip this one. I will also decline to rate this book on Goodreads/StoryGraph.

Was this review helpful?