Books: Roman Arnie; CONN IGGULDEN JULIUS CAESAR AUTHOR FEARS MUSCLEMAN COULD STAR IN FILM OF HIS BOOK EMPEROR the Field of Swords (HarperCollins, Pounds 10.99)

Article excerpt

Byline: LORNE JACKSON

HERE'S the story. Kind of. Classical times: a vast Roman army has landed in Deal, Kent. The troops are led by one of the greatest military commanders in history, Julius Caesar.

His men are ready to do his bidding and conquer the small island off the coast of Europe but first the mighty leader will address his warriors.

Chomping on a sizzling cigar, he adjusts his Ray-Ban sunglasses and hoists his Uzi machine-gun aloft. In a booming, Germanic voice he thunders: 'Friends, Roman's countrymen... hasta la vista, baby! Der ver some peoples say I nevva be muchava leada. Vell, I just gat one ting ta say ta dem. I alvays knew dat I'D BE BACK!'

Of course such a silly scenario doesn't bare thinking about.

But Conn Iggulden admits duringbleak moments that it's his nightmare. He imagines that the film being based on his majestic series of Emperor novels, which describe the life of Julius Caesar, will culminate in a movie starring Arnold Schwarzenegger.

After all, if Colin Farrell can ham it up as Alexander the Great, then no historical figure is safe from getting basted on the spitroast of ridicule.

'An option has been taken on my books by a film production company and a script's being written at the moment,' reveals Conn.

'But I've had a few nightmares about ArnoldSchwarzenegger in the lead role. It might seem ridiculous but in the 1960s Rex Harrison played Julius Caesar.

'Can you imagine? He was Dr Dolittle! Dr Dolittle becoming ruler of Rome, Dr Dolittle defeating the Gauls, Dr Dolittle invading Britain - how silly can you get?' SowhowouldConn like to playthe lead role?

'I'm not sure,' he says. 'My wife thinks JudeLawwouldbe terrific. That's probably just because he's goodlooking. But maybe it's not a bad idea.

Law's thin, which would be accurate. Caesar marched30 miles adaywhenhe was campaigning so he'd have been similar to a Tour de France cyclist - skinny and wiry.'

Conn's latest tale about Caesar, The Field Of Swords, is the third in the series, and the author has journeyed with his protagonist from boyhood to battle campaigns in Britain. …