Story is quite good, the universe is thought out fairly well, with obvious blendings of Earth's old cultures to create unique new ones. The characters a very well written with an attention to detail that's unusually good.
The best part however is the narrator who manages to give each of the 5-8 characters in any one scene a distinct voice. He's really very good!
This isn't a short introduction as in "abridged" or "concise", but short as in "wandering stream of conscious". It's as if Kelly took a trip to Italy and was so impressed by the architecture, he looked up a few references and tossed a book together.
There's very little good history here, and what there is mostly opinion. Inferences on how people "must have thought", backed by recorded dialog are the most interesting, but they're not placed in context very well.
He must have been bored, because there are edit points every few minutes after which his voice pitch goes up a few octaves, making for a very distracting listen.
The last chapter, which focuses on contemporary views of the Roman Empire is frustratingly opinionated and irrelevant to historical Rome.
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