From: Houston, TX
I’ve just completed Colleen McCullough’s Master of Rome series of historical novels. There are seven novels:
The First Man in Rome
The Grass Crown
The October Horse
Anthony and Cleopatra
A grand total of 4951 pages covering the 84 years of the end of the Roman Republic (from 110BC to 27BC). I don’t remember exactly when I started, but it took less than six months. Most I had read before, except for the last one. Traveling through them again was great fun. She really immerses you in Ancient Rome in its most fascinating period, with a long string of titans across the stage.
And the characterizations of the principle characters (Gaius Marius, Lucius Cornelius Sulla, Marcus Licinius Crassus, Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus, Gaius Julius Caesar, Marcus Antonius, and Gaius Octavius) are superb. (Although she clearly favors Caesar over all others, with Pompey & Anthony especially getting dumped on).
But the supporting cast is just as richly characterized (Marcus Aemilius Scaurus, Quintus Caecilus Metellus Numidicus, Publius Rutilius Rufus, Quintus Lutatius Catulus Caesar, Lucius Appuleius Saturninus, Quintus Sertorius, Quintus Servilius Caepio, Marcus Livius Drusus, Lucius Cornelius Cinna, Quintus Caecilus Metellus Pius, Lucius Licinius Luculus, Publius Clodius, Marcus Calpurnius Bibulus, Marcus Porcius Cato, Marcus Tullius Cicero, Marcus Junius Brutus, Titus Labienus, Decimus Junius Brutus, Gaius Trebonius, Marcus Aemilius Lepidus, Lucius Julius Caesar, Gaius Cassius Longinus, and Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa.
Principle women get fully fleshed out as well: Aurelia Cotta (Caesar’s Mother), Livia Drusa (Cato & Servilia’s Mother), Julia (Caesar’s Aunt), Julia (Caesar’s Daughter), Servilia (Mother of Brutus and Mistress of Caesar), Octavia (Octavius’s Sister), and Livia Drusilla (Octavius’s Wife).
And foreign enemies too: Jugurtha (Numidia), Boiorix (Cimbri), Mithradates VI (Pontus), Gaius Papius Mutilus (Samnites), Spartacus (Slave revolt), Vercingetorix (Gauls), Cleopatra and Caesarion (Egypt).
Yet all of that is just the tip of the ice berg. It’s literally a cast of thousands!
And battles all over the place: Arausio, Aquae Sextiae, Vercellae, Nola, Colline Gate, Carrhae, Alesia, Pharsalus, Philippi, and Actium, among many others. Rome was basically in the business of War, and it shows.