This book is one of my favorite listens of all time. As well as being one of the best Historical Fiction books ever written. Take a chance on this one. But if you do, here are a few things to read first:
Firstly, forget that this book was written in the 1920's. If I hadn't known this fact, I would have never guessed. I am a great fan of modern historians and shy away from books written in the early 20th Cent. Robert Graves is the exception.
No soap-opera has more intrigue, lust, murder, betrayal and excess than the true tale of the reign of the Caesars of Ancient Rome. The tale is complicated and full of twists and turns and too many minor characters to keep track of. What makes Mr. Grave's telling of the tale so engrossing is the way he uses the oft disregarded "Uncle" Claudius as the fly on the wall witness to the madness. The real Caesar Claudius was a historian before he was anything else, making the telling of his tale believable and reasonable in its details.
There have been a few reviews complaining that the narrator is boring. NONSENSE. Nelson Runger MAKES this story seem totally believable. His unassuming, self-depreciating, kindly voice is the exact illustration of what "Poor Claudius" might have sounded like. HE IS PERFECT. No inexplicable English accent to make it sound more "historical" here.
Another complaint I've read is that Graves uses the modern names of regions and countries in his tale. This is FICTION and most of us don't know exactly where GAUL was back then. But I sure know where Germany is. It's a non issue. If you are THAT superior in your tastes, perhaps you should stick to true biography's.
One caution: I waited until the last chapter of the book expecting to hear the tale of Claudius's actual reign included - he doesn't tell. The book ends with the first moments of his ascension to the throne. The good news is that there is a follow up book that does. Much to my delight!
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