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The Poison King: The Life and Legend of Mithradates, Rome’s Deadliest Enemy | [Adrienne Mayor]

The Poison King: The Life and Legend of Mithradates, Rome’s Deadliest Enemy

A National Book Award finalist for this epic work, Adrienne Mayor delivers a gripping account of Mithradates, the ruthless visionary who began to challenge Rome’s power in 120 B.C. Machiavelli praised his military genius. Kings coveted his secret elixir against poison. Poets celebrated his victories, intrigues, and panache. But until now, no one has told the full story of his incredible life.
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Publisher's Summary

A National Book Award finalist for this epic work, Adrienne Mayor delivers a gripping account of Mithradates, the ruthless visionary who began to challenge Rome’s power in 120 B.C. Machiavelli praised his military genius. Kings coveted his secret elixir against poison. Poets celebrated his victories, intrigues, and panache. But until now, no one has told the full story of his incredible life.

©2010 Adrienne Mayor (P)2010 Recorded Books, LLC

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.9 (327 )
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  •  
    Kyle Oberlin, OH, United States 07-12-12
    Kyle Oberlin, OH, United States 07-12-12

    Love to learn, love to share

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Pete and Repeat were in a boat. Pete fell off"

    I was very excited to read about the poison king/alleged first toxologist, but this book was a severe disappointment. The content was dull and extremely repetitive, as was the voice, which I feel can best be described as a monotone grey. I thought I should tough it out, as the author made this historical figure out to be of great importance, but while that may be true, his portrayal of him leaves me wanting a straightforward story on the "known" facts of this man, not a repetition of, as he puts it, the opposite of historical fiction(bull).

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    R. Schechter Dublin, CA United States 04-25-12
    R. Schechter Dublin, CA United States 04-25-12 Member Since 2005
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    "One of the best biographies ever!"
    What did you love best about The Poison King?

    This was a fascinating biography of one of the most remarkable characters in ancient history. I had learned about Mithradates from Colleen McCullough's Great Men of Rome series, and was thrilled that he finally got his own biography. While the book is scholarly non-fiction which is well sourced, the author is so skillful that it reads like a thrilling novel. I especially enjoyed his speculation at the end about whether or not Mithradates really died in a tower as recorded by history, or was it just a ruse to fool the Romans? There was also some fascinating speculation about the fate of his Amazon queen. And the narration is first rate!


    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David 07-08-14
    David 07-08-14 Member Since 2013
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    "Simply Awesome"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Absolutely. In fact a couple of my friends have also listened to it and we had a good time discussing the book. We noticed that a couple of ideas are borrowed by George R.R. Martin for his famous A Song of Ice and Fire series. Anyone who is remotely interested in history, specifically the Roman world, would love this book.


    What did you like best about this story?

    A great job of combining historical accounts and personal accounts to “bring history to life,” as the saying goes. Mithradates is surrounded by some mixture of legend and fact; the author does a good job of presenting both while labeling each as such. Reading the book, you really get a feeling of what it was like to try oppose the Roman Empire at the height of its power. If you’ve ever studied this period from the Roman history side of things, this will be a great counterpart to your understanding.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jahan Toronto, Ontario, Canada 04-25-13
    Jahan Toronto, Ontario, Canada 04-25-13
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    "Close but Missed the Mark"

    I appreciate the effort to flesh out the story of Mithradates, a fascinating character. The book falls short on several points. There are long stretches devoted to speculation about Mithradates childhood and lifestyle in court. These passages take up a lot of air time for something that is unverifiable. In the meantime his descriptions of the battles, in particular of the third Mithradatic War are incomplete and don't give a clear picture. It also seems as though he is using some inflated numbers.

    I also found the reader monotone and hard to listen to at times.

    Overall the book is ok, it has good moments, the author does a good job of describing the political climate. It could have done with less speculation and more description of actual verifiable events.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Pamela 12-19-12
    Pamela 12-19-12 Member Since 2011
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    "Interesting"
    What did you like best about The Poison King? What did you like least?

    Historical facts seemed well researched and accurate but I take exception with Mayor's "speculative" history. If you want to speculate about history, why not write historical fiction?


    Would you be willing to try another book from Adrienne Mayor? Why or why not?

    Don't think so.


    Was The Poison King worth the listening time?

    Yes. Lots there I did not know but all I want from my histories are facts. No need to speculate. I can do that for myself, thank you.


    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    kindle user West HFTD 12-05-14
    kindle user West HFTD 12-05-14

    binarystar

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    "Se the script to Game of Thrones prodcers!!!!"
    Would you listen to The Poison King again? Why?

    This book and the narration is above and beyond any other history book in Audible. The narration is impeccable and the story of the Poison King and his allies begs for a TV series of its own.
    As a TV series:
    Starting with a you prince and the scheming Queens and concubines is enough for a 3 season TV spectacle like Reign, Game of Thrones, etc. I can picture the role with one of the teen idols from Teen Werewolf or Twisted in a swashbuckling adventure between the young Mithradates, his BFF young Tigranes, and adventures through fantastic Baltic sea and Asia Minor Kingdoms, pirate lords and as counter evil to unite them all: Roma and Persia!
    This books begs to be an on-going TV series!


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Mirthradates, followed by his son in law Tigranes the Great.


    What about Paul Hecht’s performance did you like?

    EVERYTHING!


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

    "if you like Game of Thrones...meet The Poison King!


    Any additional comments?

    Listeners should do a standing ovation when the book reaches its end, cause this is top quality material that needs to be sold to HBO, Starz or AMC as a regular TV series

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bill Mergenthal 10-11-14 Member Since 2010
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    "The Poison King"
    This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

    This book will appeal to academics rather than the general public


    What was most disappointing about Adrienne Mayor’s story?

    Too many dates and confusing family names


    Any additional comments?

    I enjoy historical novel but don't bother with this one.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Steve from MD 07-27-14 Member Since 2005
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    "hardly history"
    Would you try another book from Adrienne Mayor and/or Paul Hecht?

    I understand it is hard to write a book about a ancient ruler where little information exists but lots of myths. This book looks at an interesting character in history with all the skepticism of a big foot hunt. I do not even think they did any real research into poisons.


    What could Adrienne Mayor have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    More critical thinking.


    How did the narrator detract from the book?

    na


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    d 01-06-14
    d 01-06-14
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    "Two books"
    Would you try another book from Adrienne Mayor and/or Paul Hecht?

    I got this anticipating a speculative biography on Mithradates, but what I got was two beginning chapters almost entirely about the authors opinion on Rome and the indication that the author groups nearly every differing opinion in one large bucket the author dubs “Western”. I hoped that the book would get better and it did for a while, but towards the end she began to divert the topic to those individuals associated with Mithradates rather than the man himself. I would welcome any additional facts that would help me understand the subject, but I did not feel that I was gaining this understanding- I felt more like the author was writing two books; one about the Mithradates and a separate opinion piece. I read the work through, so I did not feel right returning it.


    Would you ever listen to anything by Adrienne Mayor again?

    Probably not


    Have you listened to any of Paul Hecht’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    I liked the reader, he has a good documentary voice


    Was The Poison King worth the listening time?

    The book itself could have remained on topic and been much shorter


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Paul McMahon Fremantle, Australia 11-25-13
    Paul McMahon Fremantle, Australia 11-25-13 Listener Since 2007

    mcmap

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    "Reader loses sense"

    This book seems poorly suited to audio production. The sorts of repeating of information that works in type clutters the narrative here.

    The reader loses the focus of intent, particularly when listing things.

    In the end I wasn't interested by the text and reading. A topic of significant importance in the story of Rome became just a grocery list, for me. An academic book, yes, but that shouldn't mean an academic reading.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
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