Synopses & Reviews
In her new book about the men who were instrumental in establishing the Rome of the Emperors, Colleen McCullough tells the story of a famous love affair and a man whose sheer ability could lead to only one end -- assassination.
As The October Horse begins, Gaius Julius Caesar is at the height of his stupendous career. When he becomes embroiled in a civil war between Egypt's King Ptolemy and Queen Cleopatra, he finds himself torn between the fascinations of a remarkable woman and his duty as a Roman. Though he must leave Cleopatra, she remains a force in his life as a lover and as the mother of his only son, who can never inherit Caesar's Roman mantle, and therefore cannot solve his father's greatest dilemma -- who will be Caesar's Roman heir?
A hero to all of Rome except to those among his colleagues who see his dictatorial powers as threats to the democratic system they prize so highly, Caesar is determined not to be worshiped as a god or crowned king, but his unique situation conspires to make it seem otherwise. Swearing to bring him down, Caesar's enemies masquerade as friends and loyal supporters while they plot to destroy him. Among them are his cousin and Master of the Horse, Mark Antony, feral and avaricious, priapic and impulsive; Gaius Trebonius, the nobody, who owes him everything; Gaius Cassius, eaten by jealousy; and the two Brutuses, his cousin Decimus, and Marcus, the son of his mistress Servilia, sad victim of his mother and of his uncle Cato, whose daughter he marries. All are in Caesar's debt, all have been raised to high positions, all are outraged by Caesar's autocracy.
Caesar must die, they decide, for only when he is dead will Rome return to her old ways, her old republican self.
With her extraordinary knowledge of Roman history, Colleen McCullough brings Caesar to life as no one has ever done before and surrounds him with an enormous and vivid cast of historical characters, characters like Cleopatra who call to us from beyond the centuries, for McCullough's genius is to make them live again without losing any of the grandeur that was Rome.
Packed with battles on land and sea, with intrigue, love affairs, and murders, the novel moves with amazing speed toward the assassination itself, and then into the ever more complex and dangerous consequences of that act, in which the very fate of Rome is at stake.
The October Horse is about one of the world's pivotal eras, relating as it does events that have continued to echo even into our own times.
"An intelligent, page-turning epic that seamlessly mixes love, gore, and ambition." -- Kirkus Reviews
"[A] swiftly moving story...packed full of political intrigue, romance, drama, and war." -- andlt;iandgt;Booklistandlt;/iandgt;
With her renowned storytelling gifts in full force, Colleen McCullough delivers a breathtaking novel that proves once again that she is the top historical novelist of our time. andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt; Grand in scope and vivid in detail, McCullough's gripping narrative thrusts readers headlong into the complex and fascinating world of Rome in the tumultuous last days of the Republic. At the height of his power, Gaius Julius Caesar becomes embroiled in a civil war in Egypt, where he finds himself enraptured by Cleopatra, the nation's golden-eyed queen. To do his duty as a Roman, however, he must forsake his love and return to the capital to rule. andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt; Though Caesar's grip on power seems unshakable, the political landscape is treacherous -- the returning hero has no obvious successor, and his legacy seems to be the prize for any man with the courage and cunning to fell Rome's laurelled leader. Caesar's jealous enemies masquerade as friends and scheme to oust the autocrat from power and restore true republican government to Rome. But as the plot races to its dramatic conclusion, it becomes clear that with the stakes this high, no alliance is sacred and no motives are pure.
About the Author
Colleen McCullough was born in Australia. A neuropathologist, she established the department of neurophysiology at the Royal North Shore Hospital in Sydney before working as a researcher and teacher at Yale Medical School for ten years. Her writing career began with the publication of Tim, followed by The Thorn Birds, a record-breaking international bestseller. She lives on Norfolk Island in the South Pacific with her husband, Ric Robinson.