©2009 Conn Iggulden; (P)2014 Audible, Inc.
Colleen Mcculough's Rome series is way more 3 dimensional. It is at the same time more enjoyable as fiction and more historically accurate. This book is ok, the performance is very good, were it any less good I wouldnt have bothered with the story. The narrative likes sword... um gladius strokes, way more than politics, or social history. I would estimate the word "gladius" is used 300 times in the first two books of this series, which I bought together.
There are no real discriptions of places, neither homes nor forts nor markets, there are no holidays or festivals, there are no debates. The one time we are invited to dine there is no food and no conversation, just the assertion that children should be still while eating and that Aurelia has a medical condition. This is what I mean by thin. The characterizations of men seem limited to how good they are at violence.
Aurelia, who is a favorite character in first man in rome, is reduced to a shadow, and a nasty one at that. Its the totally fictional bit players here that add interest for me. The historical figures are cardboardy. I dont see that this will get repeat listens
Having said all that, its not terrible, I am listening all the way through and I have not yet decided if I will finish the series, but that has more to do with the lack of new offeriings I want to hear just now than because I really like it. I wish audible would get the rights to sell the rest of the Mccullough books unabridged. And I cant wait for January when the new Ruso book comes out from Ruth Downie.
I am offering the comparison so that other listeners will understand my definition of great historical fiction. I know lots of people will see this as action packed and thrilling, its just not my favorite kind of thing
I will listen to NO boring book. Old Fav's,Card, King , Hobb. New Fav's, Hill, Scalzi, Sawyer, Interested in Lansdale, Crouch, Konrath
What was it like to live in B.C. Rome. This book gives you the feeling that you are there. Conn puts you in the head of some of the most famous leaders of history. The book is entertaining from start to finish. There are no slow parts, no fillers, no bull. I will be buying the rest of the series.
This being fiction, Conn explains in the end what he did to write the story. I love authors who say something at the end about how and why they write what they write.
I liked the series about Genghis Khan just a slight better, but that is probably because I have always been more interested in China's history then in Rome's. This being the fourth book I have listened to written by CI, I do not believe you can go wrong. So pick which ever history you would like to live in and listen to that.
Having finished Iggeldon's six book Conquerer series about Genghis Khan, I was looking forward to having thre Emperor series still ahead of me. My initial thought was that this story can't possibly be as interesting as the story of Genghis, but it holds its own.
I'm writing this review having finished the whole series, and like the Conquerer series I'll rate the Emperor series as a whole, and as a whole it's a great story, well executed, and well performed. It's hard for me to imagine that anyone could possibly read this first book of the series and stop. If you buy this download, I guarantee you'll be buying the next three, and if you haven't read the Conquerer series, you'll be buying six more on top of that. You'll wish there were more.
Conn did a wonderful job bringing an old story to some new heights. I am not sure how to understand the critics that say this story is not historicly accurate. "Of course it is not completely accurate"!!! That is why it is fiction. Maybe those critics are best to stay with just history and leave fiction to us with a good imagination I love Roman history as much, if not more than anyone...but I also love a good story that mixes both History and Fiction together. Well done Conn!!!
Some readers have complained that the "order of history" this book is based upon is not accurate. I don't see a problem with that. Fictional books are often written with nuggets of reality and factoids. One must remember that this book is a "work of fiction" and should be read for entertainment value. Folks wanting more accurate versions of reality for thesis quality research should look elsewhere for their timelines.
That said, this is a great book and I'm looking forward to the next Empire series.
He is one of the top performers I've listened to. Hopefully there is an annual poll that allows us to nominate top voices such as his.
Don't get this for historical accuracy. Get it for the entertainment value. It's not sophisticated, and terribly inaccurate, but, with this in mind, it entertained my during my daily commute.
Of particular note, the performance was first rate.
Gaius Julius Ceasar is the most interesting. He is the main character, and it gives a plausible background for Ceasar's future actions.
This was a book worth listening to in one sitting.
The book was really entertaining and even a fresh look at a very famous man.
Get to the point of what's to come faster. It's taken so long to get to what may or may not be an awesome well-rounded story I've stopped listening.
As I write the review I can barely remember what the speaker sounds like. As I recall though I had no issues with speaker so he had to be good.
Gaius' father. A supposed great man cut down in a mundane battle. The pomp & circumstance of this man didn't live up to his contrived greatness.
I may force myself to finish it.
I had trouble warming up to this book, but am glad I stuck with it. By the end of the book. I was enthralled with the characters. I thought they were developed in a way that drew my attention and made me want to read the next book in the series. I liked the epilogue explaining the historical inaccuracies and the writers reasoning behind them.
"Emperor The Gates Of Rome (unabridged)"
Excellent. Enjoyed the entire book. Had to pace myself otherwise I would have listened in just a couple of sessions. Well written and well read. Story very easy to follow and the characters were bought to life by good narration. Would recommend to anyone who likes historical novels.
"Quintissential Car Reading"
In their style of writing, certain books complement certain venues - two examples being Dawkins' books for coffee shop reading and Michael Palin's books for holidays. Having listened to many audiobooks in my travels to & from work, I have found few better than the Emperor series for keeping my attention and yet not requiring me to know every detail of the plot.
This particular one was the first one Robert Glenister narrated and it is amazing how, even early on, he has a talent for the voices and a skilful clear narrative. The plot may be a little slow at first, but that is typical of biographical novels, and the action that begins on the third part is well paced and compelling.
Since I have heard all but one of the rest of the series before this one, I would recommend this audio download on its own merits as a good foundation to build the rest of the series on (though the order of reading is not especially important). The Emperor series make for brilliant and engaging adventure novels which help long journeys go by like a breeze!
"Conn Iggulden rocks!"
This was my first taste of a Conn Iggulden novel and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Yes it isn't exactly based on historic fact, as explained by the author himself at the end. He has taken some poetic licence with the timelines and has crafted a fictional account of what Julius' early years might have been like. As there is no actual written account of his childhood the author based his story around what it would have been like for a typical middle class Roman boy and I think he's done a fantastic job. I thoroughly enjoyed Robert Glenister's narrative and I can't wait to listen to the next book in the series. I'm middle-aged and female so probably don't fit the typical demographic of Conn Iggulden readers but as an avid reader of historic fiction and non-fiction I would recommend this writer to anyone who enjoys the same.
"A Good Begining"
Robert Glenister does a very good job with the characters in the novel adding depth to the historical figures. The story moves swiftly through Caeser's early years and the action is well paced throughout. If your can't wait for the next Bernard Cornwell novel then this is great in the meantime.
Enjoyed the book but was a bit disappointed when I found afterwards out that the story does not bear any resemblance to what actually happened in real life.
"Great narration simply told"
really good story about julius ceasars young days , told really well and isnt too difficult to follow, id recommend this book to simple roman times enthusiasts !
"Very engaging story."
Before this book I knew nothing of Roman history, it really peaked my interest.
Fast paced, no slow moments.
Very good narrator, on of the best.
The very last last sentence. Not knowing Roman history it blew my mind.
"Excellent Historical Fiction"
This series weaves a detailed and believable story around major characters from the time of Julius Caesar and follows them as they move towards Caesars assassination as they grow and develop as people fighting personal as well as military battles along the way
"The Emperor - The Gates of Rome"
Amazing narrative, truly wonderful!! the book is alive in his voice. Great!
It was a pleasure to heard so many and so different characters.
"Fun but forced historical fiction"
The best writers of historic fiction use their knowledge to make the world of their story feel as real as possible but never let it feel like they are trying to teach the history. Sadly Conn Iggulden doesn't manage this. While his Roman setting seemed authentic enough, and I particularly enjoyed the brutality of it in all walks of life, too often it feels like he has added bits to the story just so that he can use some fact or exploit some research.
One particularly glaring example of this is when the lead character is warned of the draconian powers of a magistrate he almost bumps into in Rome. This felt like a classics Checkov's Rifle - the only reason to clumsily explain the powers of a Roman Magistrate in this way is because those powers will later be relevant to the plot. The subject never comes up again though.
The other irritating example of this is a whole section with one of the protagonists on a ship. He goes through a rather cliched series of tasks to win the loyalty of the crew which absolutely shriek "Look how much I have read up on Roman naval life!".
That gripe aside it is a good story and a promising start to the series. The two protagonists are likeable and well rounded out as characters although a lot of the secondary figures are caricatures or wafer thin. The story is slow to build but quite enjoyable and sets the rest of the series up well
The narration is as good as one would expect from a pretty well known actor like Glenister. My only gripe is that he would occasionally get confused as to which he should be using which can baffle the listener.
All in all I enjoyed it enough to go on with the series but not enough to give it a ringing endorsement
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