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I was first introduced to Marcus Licinius Crassus in Spartacus. I still get goosebumps when each man stands, proclaiming, “I am Spartacus!” Laurence Olivier was perfect for the role, he easily portrayed a man above all others. But who was Crassus? By all accounts he was the richest man in Rome; he could buy anything or anyone his heart desired. But there was one thing that Crassus desired that he could not purchase, the love and admiration of the people of Rome. The people loved a conquering general. Crassus had some stiff competition. Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus and Gauis Julius Caesar had proven their military prowess and brought glory to Rome, but Crassus defeated an untrained slave army filled with goat herders and tutors. Crassus needed his conquest to gain the love of Rome that he desired.
Unfortunately for Crassus, when the opportunity presented itself to conquer the Parthian Empire and claim his glorious victory, Crassus’ hubris got the better of him and forty thousand Roman soldiers were lost; Crassus never returned to Rome. David Rollins has taken this little piece of Roman failure and asked, “What went wrong?” and “What happened to the survivors?”
Through the eyes of a select group of survivors, David Rollins has painted an intricate picture of what could have happened. An alternate-ish history, perhaps. History too often pays attention to the leaders, generals and politicians. I like the aspect of seeing the impact that these events may have had on the common person. In Field of Mars, we can see that the world was still a very small place, even in 53 B.C.
Field of Mars is a well written, entertaining story. I particularly enjoyed the banter between the soldiers. There is room to build upon the story, but if this is the end of Rufinius’ and Appias’ story, I am completely satisfied.