The Death of Kings

The Death of Kings
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The second volume in the bestselling Emperor series, an acclaimed sequence of novels in which Conn Iggulden brilliantly interweaves history and adventure to recreate the astonishing story of Julius Caesar – an epic tale of ambition and rivalry, bravery and betrayal.The young Caesar must overcome enemies on land and at sea to become a battle-hardened leader – in the spectacular new novel from the bestselling author of The Gates of Rome.Forced to flee Rome, Julius Caesar is serving on board a war galley in the dangerous waters of the Mediterranean and rapidly gaining a fearsome reputation. But no sooner has he had a memorable victory than his ship is captured by pirates and he is held to ransom.Abandoned on the north African coast after hard months of captivity, he begins to gather a group of recruits that he will eventually forge into a unit powerful enough to gain vengeance on his captors and to suppress a new uprising in Greece.Returning to Rome as a hero – and as an increasingly dangerous problem for his enemies – Caesar is reunited with his boyhood companion Brutus. But soon the friends are called upon to fight as they have never fought before, when a new crisis threatens to overwhelm the city – in the form of a rebellious gladiator named Spartacus…


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Published by HarperCollinsPublishers Ltd 1 London Bridge Street London SE1 9GF

First published in Great Britain by HarperCollinsPublishers 2004

Copyright © Conn Iggulden 2004

Conn Iggulden asserts the moral right to be identified as the author of this work.

A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library.

This novel is entirely a work of fiction. The names, characters and incidents portrayed in it are the work of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events or localities is entirely coincidental.

All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. By payment of the required fees, you have been granted the non-exclusive, non-transferable right to access and read the text of this e-book on screen. No part of this text may be reproduced, transmitted, down-loaded, decompiled, reverse engineered, or stored in or introduced into any information storage and retrieval system, in any form or by any means, whether electronic or mechanical, now known or hereinafter invented, without the express written permission of HarperCollins.

Source ISBN: 9780007437139

Ebook Edition © December 2013 ISBN: 9780007321766

Version: 2017-05-22

To my father, who recited ‘Vitai Lampada’ with agleam in his eye. Also to my mother, who showed me thathistory was a collection of wonderful stories, with dates.

The fort of Mytilene loomed above them on the hill. Points of light moved on the walls as sentries walked their paths in the darkness. The oak and iron gate was shut and the single road that led up the sheer slopes was heavily guarded.

Gaditicus had left only twenty of his men on the galley. As soon as the rest of the century had disembarked, he had ordered the corvus bridge pulled in and Accipiter slid back from the dark island, the oars barely splashing in the still sea waters.

The galley would be safe from attack while they were gone. With all lights forbidden, she was a blot of darkness that enemy ships would miss unless they came right into the small island harbour.

Julius stood with his unit, waiting for orders. Grimly, he controlled his excitement at seeing action at last after six months of coastal patrol. Even with the advantage of surprise, the fort looked solid and dangerous and he knew scaling the walls was likely to be bloody. Once more, he examined the equipment, testing each rung of the ladders he had been issued, moving amongst the men to make sure they had cloths tied around their sandals for silence and better grip on the climb. There was nothing out of place, but his men submitted to the checks without complaint, as they had twice before since landing. He knew they would not disgrace him. Four were long-term soldiers, including Pelitas who had ten years of galley experience behind him. Julius had made him the second in the unit as soon as he realised the man had the respect of most of the crew. He had previously been overlooked for promotion, but Julius had seen the quality behind the casual approach to uniform and the quite astonishingly ugly face on the man. Pelitas had quickly become a staunch supporter of the new young tesserarius.

The other six had been picked up in Roman ports around Greece, as Accipiter made up her full complement. No doubt some of them had dark histories, but the requirements for a clean record were often ignored for galley soldiers. Men with debts or disagreements with officers knew their last chance for a salary was at sea, but Julius had no complaints. His ten men had all seen battle and to listen to them tell their stories was like a summary of the progress of Rome in the last twenty years. They were brutal and hard, and Julius enjoyed the luxury of knowing they wouldn’t shirk or turn away from the dirty jobs – like clearing the Mytilene fort of rebels on a summer night.

Gaditicus walked through the units, speaking to each officer. Suetonius nodded at whatever he was told and saluted. Julius watched his old neighbour, feeling fresh dislike but unable to pin it to any one thing in the young watch officer. For months, they had worked together with a frosty politeness that now seemed unbreakable. Suetonius still saw him as the young boy he and his friends had tied and beaten a lifetime before. He knew nothing of his experiences since then and had sneered as Julius told the men what it was like to come into Rome at the head of a Triumph with Marius. The events in the capital were only distant rumour to the men on board and Julius felt he wasn’t believed by some of Tonius’ friends. It was galling, but the first hint of tension or fighting between units would have meant demotion to the ranks. Julius had kept his silence, even when he heard Suetonius telling the story of how he had once left the other tesserarius swinging from a tree after cracking his head a few times. His tone had made the incident seem nothing more than a little rough fun between boys. He had felt Julius’ gaze on him at the end and pretended surprise, winking at his Second as they went back to their duties.

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