Book Review – Caligula

Caligula (The Damned Emperors #1) by Simon Turney (Orion) ISBN: 9781409175179

I don’t know much about the Emperor Gaius Julius Caesar, known to most people as Caligula. I decided to read the book to fill some gaps in my knowledge.

Caligula was one of Germanicus’s children who were all targeted by Tiberius. Germanicus was believed to have been poisoned by the Emperor Tiberius over the imperial succession. His mother and two brothers were arrested and starved to death. One of his sisters, Agrippina was married off to an abusive husband. His favourite sister, Drusilla, was married off to an old man.

Gaius is shaped by the destruction of his family by Tiberius and the Prefect Sejanus. He is forced to keep his counsel and his tongue for most of his youth, until he becomes Emperor.

This story is told from the viewpoint of his youngest sister, Livilla, who watches her brother change from a fun-loving boy into a shrewd, calculating man.

I found the book interesting, but I think it lacked the most basic of storytelling devices – a likeable narrator. Livilla is dry and uninteresting and I didn’t care about her. It was difficult to care about her brother’s story as a result.

Amanda Patterson