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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

4.0 (358 )
5 star
 (127)
4 star
 (132)
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 (66)
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Overall
4.0 (295 )
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Story
4.0 (291 )
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2 star
 (11)
1 star
 (10)
Performance
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  •  
    Steve from MD 07-27-14 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
    14
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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
    HELPFUL VOTES
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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

    HELPFUL VOTES
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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

    Acteon

    HELPFUL VOTES
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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
  •  
    Tim North Providence, RI, United States 08-13-12
    Tim North Providence, RI, United States 08-13-12 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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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
  •  
    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 Listener Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
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    Overall
    "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
  •  
    bobvarkey 06-10-11
    bobvarkey 06-10-11 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
    7
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    "Gripping novel"

    Well worth a buy. Gripping from the start to finish, just could not put the book down

    2 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 21-28 of 28 results PREVIOUS123NEXT
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  • Si
    5/26/11
    Overall
    "Great book, probably not best suited for audio"

    The story of Mithradates is truly legendary and encompasses some of the most turbulent times in the formation of the Roman Empire. Unfortunately this exciting and intriguing story is damaged by a slow, dull narration full of mis-pronunciations. If you are interested in this subject I would recommend buying the book and get the full use of maps, glossary and references.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • mr
    west sussex, United Kingdom
    3/18/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "really interesting"

    works well as an audio book, amazed by the mans life. usually he his mentioned in passing or irritates the romans etc. good to see the story from the other side of the fence.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Billy
    dublin, Ireland
    6/19/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "too much speculation but still a fine read"
    If you could sum up The Poison King in three words, what would they be?

    too much speculation, however still an interesting and informative biography


    Would you recommend The Poison King to your friends? Why or why not?

    Overall I would recomend this book because its subject matter (The Poison King of Ponthus) is little understood - outside of a narrow Roman perspective. However be careful of the author's habit to make up or speculate about facts that we don't have exact information for from the sources.


    What does Paul Hecht bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

    Hecht provides an interesting voice.


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

    Despite it's faults, yes I would say this is a book that I found (very) hard to get away from and I almost did end up listning to it in one sitting


    Any additional comments?

    The first part of the biography is fillied with the author's own theories that mostly fall into the dangerous 'what if?' category...This is the same for the last few minutes or so of the book which sort of damages it's factual biographical nature. However everything else is laid out in fact with an overall sympathetic but not overly-flattering view of our main player - the King himself and his struggle against the Roman Republic.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Amazon Customer
    Stevenage, United Kingdom
    4/24/13
    Overall
    "A significant life worth listening to"

    Not that many people will have heard of Mithradates today, yet if you are interested in the late Roman Republic then he is a colossus of the period. Nothing if not energetic and colourful, this Anatolian king was one of Rome's most constant enemies who ranks with Hannibal in his potential threat to the Latin empire. His life-long fight with Rome is only half the story however, as his various scientific experiments - particularly poisons - and his unorthodox private life all combine to make this a life well worth knowing more about.



    This was an interesting book that told the story well. Inevitably we know less about his life than we would like, and at times the book does wander into peripheral subjects or simply goes off at a tangent in order to fill the pages. However this is true of many ancient biographies, and there is plenty of actual facts and background information to paint a pretty vivid picture. The reader does a pretty good job if a little monotone, but I found the pace of the book was mostly good enough to keep me interested in the next twist and turn.



    While not brilliant (hence only 4 stars) this recording is certainly worth listening to if this is your area of interest, and if the only figures from pre-Imperial Rome that you can name are Hannibal and Julius Caesar then you will certainly find this book enlightening, and a good story to boot.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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