The acclaimed author has written a new account of Caesar's murder, and the hunt for his killers.
Peter Stothard has had plenty of experience writing about political assassinations in his former role as editor of The Times, and he has turned his attention to one of the most famous of all. The tale of Julius Caesar’s death in The Last Assassin is well told, but Stothard’s immaculate research alongside brutal descriptions of the assassins’ demise leaves little need for artistic license.
A compelling read that is written like a novel, it will have fans of history, crime and thrillers engrossed as it delves into the story of the conspirators. Stothard follows the gripping events of 44BC before and after the Ides of March from the perspective of the last living assassin, Cassius Parmensis. In describing each killer’s motivations, from the desire for power to mythical stories of revenge for the rape of Lucretia, Stothard delves into their lives, leaving no stone unturned as he analyses every intimate detail. The event raises moral questions best encapsulated by Cicero, ‘Assassination was an awesome act. But so too was allowing the battered republic to die.’
Following the murder, Stothard moves on to the battles that resulted. As Gaius Octavius and Mark Antony declare revenge in the name of Caesar, the assassins scramble to defend their actions. The story had my heart racing in apprehension as the plotters, and their supporters, were mercilessly hunted down one by one until only Cassius Parmensis remained.
Although traditionally the most famous characters, Marcus Brutus, Mark Antony and Octavius play a smaller role. Antony, Octavius and Lepidus’ Second Triumvirate established after Caesar’s death remains in the background and instead, Stothard concentrates on the less well-known assassins with Cassius Parmensis making an ideal character for narration, as he learns of his fellow accomplices when killed one after the other.
Regardless of whether you are knowledgeable on military strategy, or even the assassination itself, Stothard has written a page-turning adventure. Dripping with deceit, treachery and death, the story of Caesar’s killing and those responsible, has been given a new lease of life.
Peter Stothard’s The Last Assassin: The Hunt for the Killers of Julius Caesar is published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson and is available now.
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