This is a superlative series of books. Colleen McCullough's work is exemplary. There are six books in all and each one is riveting. There is a glossary in the back of each book, I recommend reading it before the book to set your mind and vocabulary to the story.
The First Man In Rome: deals with Marius and how the Roman legions changed from being volunteer soldiers to professionals loyal to their commander instead of Rome.
The Grass Crown: deals with the rise of Sulla and the civil war between Marius and Sulla setting the stage for all the subsequent civil wars that tear Rome apart for nearly a hundred years.
Fourtune's Favorites: deals with the end of Sulla's reign and the early life of Julius Caesar.
Caesar's Women: deals with Caesar rising up the Cursus Honorum (political advancement) and his involvement with Pompey and Crassus culminating in the forming of the first Triumvirate.
Caesar: deals with the conquest of Gaul and is so much better narrated than reading Caesar's Gallic wars, though Ms McCullogh follows Caesar's account faithfully.
The October Horse: deals with the civil war between Pompey and Caesar, Caesar's marriage to Cleopatra and his ultimate assassination.
Ms McCullough has turned history into a page turning, engrossing story. These are what Paul L. Meier refers to as "documentary novels" and she follows his rules:
1) All persons named in the book are historical; no proper name has been invented -- if it is not known, it is not given. 2) No portrayal of any personality, description of any event, episode, or even detail contradicts historical fact (unless by author's error) 3) Only where evidence is lacking is "Constructed history" based on probabilities, used to fill in the gaps.
The main focus on the books is Caesar and she has some interesting theories about him. They do make sense. The biggest one concerns Caesar's epilepsy. She theorizes that he didn't have this particular problem as no mention is made of it before he turned 40. She proposes that he may have suffered from hypoglycemia which would make more medical sense. She explains at great length the rearranging of Cicero's speeches in what would make better chronilogical order. Other than that she stays very faithful to all historical facts and timetables.
I've always felt, due to the scope of this story that it would make a fantastic "day time drama" and would be a welcome relief from the clap trap all networks are spewing out now.
If any of you are looking for something to read that will fill up your time, here it is.