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What is the all time best work of historical fiction that gives great insight into the Roman army? I am looking for a good read thats informative and historically accurate as well as entertaining.
Why not read a modern translation of Flavius Josephus?

[amazon]Flavius Josephus[/amazon]

I'd recommend Simon Scarrow's novels for fiction of the Roman Army. Also Eagle in the Snow by Wallace Breem is great for late empire and Imperial Governor by George Shipway for the period of the Boudican revolt. You could also check out the Rosemary Sutcliff titles.

That's for starters off the top of my head.


Well..."Eagle In The Snow" by Wallace Breem is pretty good.

There's not a whole lot (at least ficton) about Rome. Go figure.

Actually though, the Peter Collony series "The Legionary" and "Roman Cavalryman" follow the exploits of a certain Tiberius Claudius Maximus. His life was recorded on a tombstone which was found, and Collony wrote two (very short, about 60 page) books on him in story form with a LOT of great information included. Also, there are great Collony paintings on almost every page. These are great, and entertaining.

Entertaining enough to keep my attention at 8 years old when my uncle got me them for christmas (the beginning of the roman infatuation, lol)
Definately check out Colleen McCullough's Series which includes:

The First Man In Rome
The Grass Crown
Fortunes Favorites
Caesar's weman
The October horse

Her works are about 900-1000 pages long each and come with an evolving glossary of terms at the end of each book, But, they definately need to be read in order as they span the history of the decline of the republic and progress to the rise of the Empire. Hope you enjoy!
I'd recommend Caesar's Legion by Stephen Dando-Collins...from what I've read as far as reviews, and other members on the forum, it isn't entirely accurate. But nonetheless there is some good information to be found in the book, but it does read a lot like a novel. Especially the battle scenes, there is a lot of drama and it is very intense, so I would highly recommend it. Then you could kill two birds with one stone, get a few bits of factual information put into a nice, narrative form. It's rather cheap too, just over 15 American dollars.

Best of luck!
Well, I guess if you consider him fiction... :wink:

I by no means consider him fiction, but I got into a detailed discussion about the book with one of my professors and we were skeptical of some of the information and all. Still, it was an informative book and the index was extremely helpful. I think it's good introductory book to the civil wars and a great way to bring the legion to life for those who can't bear reading a textbook to gain factual information. It was definitely worth what I paid for and I'm curious about the nature of his other book Nero's Killing Machine any thoughts?

While Dando Collins is easy to read a few things do bug me about his works and they need to be considered when reading them.

1. Nothing he states is ever foot noted or end noted.

2. He makes a few assumptions that I have not seen anywhere, most notably the concept that a Legion enlisted all of its men once and only once and didn't do another re enlistment until all members had been discharged at the end of their 16-20 year service obligation. When you figure in battle deaths, accidents, disease,.it would seem to me that after only 2-3 years a unit could be quite combat ineffective, and by that I mean 70% or less of its authorized strength level.

3. Mis matches Legions as to whose side they were on during the Civil Wars period; most notably Legio VI Ferrata. Makes a claim that they were all the first to wear the Lorica Segmentata, and thus why they got that title. (Cleopatra's Kidnappers)

4. States that the size of a Century was 100 men still at the time of Caesar.

None of the above stated things I found in his writings can tell me what source he is using to make these statements. Since I hold a BA in History, and a Masters Degree in Military Operational Art and Science it really calls in my mind his credibility.

That said,..I do enjoy the fact that he attempts to get into the thought and decision making processes of the leaders and troopers. Iy does give a bit of a better feel of the times. In this case, I agree it is fictional, and it is enjoyable to read.



That said,..