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
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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!
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.
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.
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 is the 2nd ancient history book I've read written by a woman and read by a less than compelling male narrator. Maybe the next time consider a female narrator? Overall it's a solid history of the Mithradatic wars. It's always refreshing to find something that seeks to present the view from the non Roman side of the fight.
There's a ton of repeated 'Rome is bad and Mithradates is perfect'. I get why it's like that, I just wish that there were a lot less of it. Was Mithradates a real wizard? I can't say for sure, but sources say that yes, without a doubt, Mithradates was a strong, glorious wizard.
Great book, amazing story, well researched and well written.
Can be a little dry and academic the first hour or so, but well worth it. Helps you understand how the book was researched and the story written.
What a learning experience! It has rounded-out my comprehension of Roman and Persian and nomadic cultures at that time. Hannibal's hatred of Rome influenced Mithradates VI so entirely, that The Mithradatic Wars (three) should have equal historical billing with The Punic Wars, IMO.
This is a richly detailed tapestry of a brilliant man, his loves, losses, and the creation of poisons and antidotes still being studied today. I highly recommend this book to any history buff. The voice matched the man.
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