The Poison King: The Life and Legend of Mithradates, Rome’s Deadliest Enemy Audiobook | Adrienne Mayor | Audible.com
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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 (254 )
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  •  
    Jahan Toronto, Ontario, Canada 04-25-13
    Jahan Toronto, Ontario, Canada 04-25-13
    HELPFUL VOTES
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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.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    d madison, AL, United States 01-06-14
    d madison, AL, United States 01-06-14 Member Since 2013
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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 Member 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
  •  
    Acteon Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada 11-11-13
    Acteon Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada 11-11-13 Member Since 2009

    Acteon

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    "A wonderful story"
    What did you love best about The Poison King?

    Learning about an outstanding historical figure about whom I knew little. It also made me more aware of how hated the Romans were in the first century B.C. It is eye-opening for those us (mostly French) who only knew Mithridate from Racine's play.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Poison King?

    The simultaneous killing of all Romans everywhere in Asia Minor on that day in 88 B.C. (how the Romans must have been hated for such a scheme to succeed!) . The old king battling at the end with his young warrior queen at his side.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Yes


    Any additional comments?

    I very much enjoyed the author's informed speculations that stretch the contours of documented history without cutting loose into fiction and romance. The hypothetical version she proposes of Mithradates outwitting the Romans at the end and escaping with his queen to live out their lives free of the twin constraints of office and enslavement makes for a heart-warming epilogue: we can only hope it happened in this way!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Pamela Morrison, TN, United States 12-19-12
    Pamela Morrison, TN, United States 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.


    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joseph R Williams Moscow, ID United States 10-30-12
    Joseph R Williams Moscow, ID United States 10-30-12
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    "Top Notch"
    Any additional comments?

    Great combination of good storytelling and historical narrative. Another great audio book available on Audible for those of us who love Ancient Roman History

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tim North Providence, RI, United States 08-13-12
    Tim North Providence, RI, United States 08-13-12 Member Since 2010
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    "Exciting, engaging, vivid ..."

    Mayor has done a great job of piecing together the fragments of ancient history to paint a grand and vivid picture of western asia in the time of roman imperial dominance. I was drawn into the fascinating blend of political, military, and personal stories surrounding the enigmatic Mithridates and his black sea empire, struggling to assert his dominance in his own lands and his independence from mighty rome. Enough detail for history buffs and enough theatrical presentation for anyone who just likes a good story, this is one of the better historical offerings here on Audible today.

    0 of 0 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!


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Richard JAMAICA PLAIN, MA, United States 08-14-11
    Richard JAMAICA PLAIN, MA, United States 08-14-11
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    "Fascinating history with contemporary relavance"

    Interesting subject matter on a historical figure that has been largely forgotten in modern history teaching. The narrator isn't great but the material is largely excellent.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    nomen 08-08-11
    nomen 08-08-11 Member Since 2008
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    "Interesting"

    I found the portrayal of Mithradates both interesting and entertaining. Though I must say the fictionalized "alternate ending" didn't sit too well with me, and some of the "virtual history" came out a bit forced. Overall, a great read.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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