Sunday, July 08, 2012

Review: The Pillars of Rome by Jack Ludlow

"One shall tame a might foe, the other strike to save Rome's fame, nei­ther will achieve their aim.  Look aloft if you dare, though what you fear can­not fly, both will face it before you die." - Jack Lud­low, The Pil­lars of Rome 

This proph­esy by the Alban Sybil, accom­pa­nied by a crude draw­ing of an eagle in flight that bursts into flame of its own accord, set the stage for Jack Lud­low's first novel set in ancient Rome. 

"The Pil­lars of Rome" is the first book in a tril­o­gy by Jack Lud­low set in the late 2nd cen­tu­ry BCE
.  Lud­low is an expe­ri­enced writer and has pub­lished a num­ber of books set in other time peri­ods but this is his first with a Roman theme.  Lud­low does an excel­lent job of devel­op­ing vibrant char­ac­ters and deft­ly recre­ates Repub­li­can Rome with its strict social hier­ar­chy, schem­ing and cor­rupt sen­a­tors and provin­cial gov­er­nors, polit­i­cal­ly moti­vat­ed mar­riages, mil­i­tary reliance on landown­ers (this is before Mar­ius approved career sol­diers with­out land own­er­ship require­ments) and strict mil­i­tary "dis­ci­plina" in the con­duct of its troops who, in turn, extend­ed lit­tle mercy to the con­quered.