Marius’ Mules I: The Invasion of Gaul by SJA Turney
Publication date: November 2010
Print length 436 pages
The first in SJA Turney’s series chronicling Caesar’s Gallic Wars, begins as you might expect with the invasion of Gaul. Marius’ Mules were the legionaries of Caesar’s armies, named after the general and consul Marius who first reorganised the Roman army into a professional fighting force. Caesar was able to benefit from the changes wrought by Marius and his rival Sulla, who changed the outlook of the Legions from loyalty to the Republic above all, to loyalty to their general above all, a situation that ultimately led to the the demise of the Republic.
Marius’ Mules I: The Invasion of Gaul brings the campaign to life in a way that Caesar’s dry de Bello Gallico never did. The main character Marcus Falerius Fronto is the fictional commander of the Tenth legion, and while I am of the school that prefers historical accuracy over author’s licence, Fronto is a strong character, who pulls the reader nicely into the story.
Caesar himself is presented intriguingly, coming across as a complete person, full of flaws and virtues rather than the demi-god or alternatively complete tyrant that some authors present him as.
Battles and action abound, with a good sprinkling of heroes, villains, politics and intrigue. Don’t be put off that this book wasn’t picked up by a mainstream publisher, it should have been! Recommended!.
Alex Gough November 2012