Iggulden (Emporer: The Field of Swords) saves the best for last in the fourth and final novel of his well-received Emperor series, following the life of Julius Caesar. Caesar's story is a familiar one, but Iggulden writes it convincingly as a thriller: the novel begins in 49 B.C., when Caesar and his legions-fresh from their conquests in Gaul and Britain-cross the Rubicon and race toward Rome to confront his enemies. It ends five years later on the Ides of March with his assassination. Along the way, there's a civil war to be fought and won, a romantic encounter with the young Egyptian queen Cleopatra and a triumphant return to Rome where a cowed Senate names him Dictator for Life and Unconquered God. But Caesar's enemies-including his friend Marcus Brutus-plot his assassination for subverting the Republican government. Despite Caesar's larger-than-life historical reputation, Iggulden humanizes his hero and juxtaposes his bloodlust in battle and ruthless ambition in politics with an unexpected tenderness in his personal relations. Taking a rather large dose of literary license, Iggulden strays too far from the historical record, but his expert plotting, supple prose and fast-paced action will keep readers riveted until the end.