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Caesar's Lictor

The Lords of Luca

The Marcus Mettius Series Book 4

Written by Alex Johnston

Genre: Historical Fiction



Why does Marcus Mettius insist on continuing to work for Julius Caesar? Does he want to die early and leave a good-looking corpse, or is he just stupid?

Nah, he plans on being around for some time – he is definitely not the check-out-early type! As for being stupid – stupid people don’t become close confidants to the leaders of the richest and most powerful political and military force of the day. Maybe he’s a little na├»ve, but hell, that’s part of his charm!

Julius Caesar certainly isn’t stupid, and he was faced with an almost impossible task: get Pompey and Crassus together in the same tent and fix their damn political alliance, which had more holes in it than a field slave’s tunic. But those two are like olive oil and water, and Caesar needs all of the help he can get to pull it off. No ordinary event planner will do – he needs Marcus Mettius!

So our intrepid hero finds himself in Cisalpine Gaul, helping his old buddy Gaius Valerius Troucillus manage one of the most important conferences in history – the meeting of the Triumvirate at Luca. In addition to all of the usual mundane tasks (lining up supplies, generating blurbs for the media, etc.) he also has to find time for the important things in life – like sampling the local cuisine and trying to talk his recalcitrant slave Vinus into doing what he asks. Oh, and avoiding being beaten to death by snarling muscleheads.

Sigh. It’s not easy being the right-hand man for one of the most famous leaders of all time. But where would Caesar be without him?

Join Marcus in the next thrilling episode of his eventful life in Caesar’s Lictor! 

An excerpt from

Caesar's Lictor

Here's what

Fans are saying

about Book 1

I enjoyed this short tale of Caesar's Ambassador because I found it an amusing and fun change from historicals that get too stuffy and full of themselves. Johnston employed humorous language throughout, e.g. " less time than it took to wrap a toga..."

His colloquial, down-to-earth account is told in first person by Marcius Mettius, one of the ambassadors sent by Caesar to negotiate with Ariovistus. The voice of Marcus is that of a rowdy bloke trying to survive in that cruel world so long ago. Even though some of the slang gets a little anachronistic, e.g., "freak out" and "she wants to hang out with me", it conveys the feel and taste of a common man's talk. I am sure the ancient Romans had their own slang and rough manner of speech that would go over our heads today, but for which this story gives us a genuine feel.

The author brought an actual event from history to life for us by humanizing the characters, even that of Caesar himself. The Epilogue makes sure to explain what parts are history and what he has fictionalized.

I recommend this story to those capable of enjoying a little taste of satire.

Caesar’s Ambassador was certainly not what I expected, but that’s definitely in a good way. I expected the usual dry historical retelling of a minor character, not the hilarious escapades of a snarky, sarcastic salesman who played a part in the conquest of Gaul but never really got his due.

I think Alex Johnston intentionally used modern phrases and attitudes to make Marcus a bit easier to understand for modern readers. He does this with great humour as Marcus tells dumb blonde jokes, salesman jokes, drinks and marches along with Caesar’s army around Gaul. Marcus may have found himself a diplomat by accident, but I still love that Alex Johnston made him a salesman at heart. His take on the German situation as he and his friend Gaius are in chains waiting for a soothsayer to determine whether they should live or die is hilarious. There are some serious moments in the story, but overall the tone is humorous.

Alex Johnston brings historical figures like Marcus and Julius Caesar to life in his short story and makes them just a little more human. Marcus is, of course, a salesman at heart. Caesar is a soldier’s best friend but also reveals his ruthless streak to Marcus, who is both chummy with Caesar and wary of him. It’s hard to get much characterization into a short story, but Alex Johnston certainly succeeded in making all of his characters three dimensional.

With lots of humour along the way as well as fascinating historical details, you can’t go wrong with Caesar’s Ambassador. There are some modern phrases Marcus uses throughout the story, but I suspect that was deliberate on the part of the author.

Overall, Caesar’s Ambassador is just a fun historical romp that fills in some of the gaps in the life of a bit player of Roman politics.

I give this short story 5/5 stars.

Author Bio

Alex Johnston

I am the author of several fiction books about Marcus Mettius, a minor character in Julius Caesar's Commentaries on the Gallic War. Marcus brings a salesman's amused and worldly perspective to the major characters, locales, and events of the late Roman Republic period. I think he's a hoot, and I hope that you will as well! The Marcus Mettius titles are Caesar's Ambassador,Caesar's Emissary, Caesar's Daughter, a compilation of those three stories, and Caesar's Lictor.

Marcus likes a good joke and prefers wits to weapons in dealing with tricky situations. He parties with Gauls and Alexandrians, hangs out with slaves and freedmen, and counts Julius Caesar among his friends.

Along with my Marcus Mettius series, I also wrote a short book on investing - the Millionaire Wage Slave. I like to think that Marcus would have enjoyed reading it, but, alas, I shall never know.