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
Love to learn, love to share
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).
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!
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.
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.
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.
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?
Don't think so.
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.
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!
Mirthradates, followed by his son in law Tigranes the Great.
"if you like Game of Thrones...meet The Poison King!
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
This book will appeal to academics rather than the general public
Too many dates and confusing family names
I enjoy historical novel but don't bother with this one.
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.
More critical thinking.
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.
I liked the reader, he has a good documentary voice
The book itself could have remained on topic and been much shorter
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.
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