The Splendor Before the Dark

A Novel of the Emperor Nero
Series: Emperor Nero, Book 2
Length: 21 hrs and 42 mins
4.6 out of 5 stars (55 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Nero’s ascent to the throne was only the beginning.... Now, Margaret George, the author of The Confessions of Young Nero, weaves a web of politics and passion, as ancient Rome’s most infamous emperor cements his place in history.

With the beautiful and cunning Poppaea at his side, Nero commands the Roman empire, ushering in an unprecedented era of artistic and cultural splendor. Although he has yet to produce an heir, his power is unquestioned.

But in the 10th year of his reign, a terrifying prophecy comes to pass and a fire engulfs Rome, reducing entire swaths of the city to rubble. Rumors of Nero’s complicity in the blaze start to sow unrest among the populace - and the politicians....

For better or worse, Nero knows that his fate is now tied to Rome’s - and he vows to rebuild it as a city that will stun the world. But there are those who find his rampant quest for glory dangerous. Throughout the empire, false friends and spies conspire against him, not understanding what drives him to undertake the impossible.

Nero will either survive and be the first in his family to escape the web of betrayals that is the Roman court, or be ensnared and remembered as the last radiance of the greatest dynasty the world has ever known.

"A resplendent novel filled with the gilt and marble of the ancient world." (C. W. Gortner, author of The Romanov Empress)

©2018 Margaret George (P)2018 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

"George’s nuanced, well-researched character study depicts his candid inner self and how the performance of his short life played out on the Roman Empire’s vast stage. It succeeds admirably in persuading readers to reconsider their impressions of the infamous Nero." (Booklist starred review)

"A riveting, rich read with a breathtaking finale." (Woman’s World)

"Fascinating and fun." (The New York Post)

What listeners say about The Splendor Before the Dark

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Stunning! Absolutely riveting!

I read the first book about Nero and enjoyed it thoroughly. But this one really picks up the pace. It’s as fine as anything Margaret George has ever written. Add the incredible narration to this and you have yourself the perfect audiobook. Rare to find. Absolutely wonderful. If you’re reading this and have never read Margaret George before, don’t forget ‘The Autobiography of Henry VIII’ and ‘Mary Queen of Scots’, which are 2 of my all time favorite books hands down. I was hesitant to read Nero bc I thought I already “knew” so much about him, and didn’t find the topic interesting. Wrong! Margaret George does so much research and captures a very different person in this book than the silly, crazy murderous man of my high school and college Latin classes. And true or false, this subject made for a fascinating novel. Finally about the length, M George always writes lovely long novels. This time it’s broken into 2. It’s worth it to listen to every minute. I listened to whole 2 books in 4 days. The second half is so full of action that I couldn’t go to sleep at night bc I was so absorbed. What will she write about next?

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Great Escapist Literature

The Nero within these pages made me shed a tear or two. Whether or not the author's depiction is close to reality probably will never be known. However, the author showed a universal truth; for every 'monster's there is someone who loves him. Margaret George elevates historical fiction so brilliantly that it makes a reader weep for a man herald as the anti-christ. Amazing read.

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Not So Splendid for Nero

This book was recommended on The View so I thought I would take a chance. I'm glad I did. I learned so much about the workings of the Roman Empire. I see that politics have not changed! Nero was a tortured soul in so many areas of his life. He had his mother assassinated. He survived conspiracies to overthrow his government. He accidentally killed his pregnant wife. There was so much more that explained to me about the fall of the Roman Empire. I really enjoyed the end of the book where the author told about her research for the story. This is a good book for people interested in the history of the Roman Empire.

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Excellent!

Full of drama and history, this is a stunning book. Margaret George is a wonderful author, and the narrators are FABULOUS

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I love this book! such a great retelling

this is such a great retelling if a very misunderstood man who may have been eccentric, but was definitely ahead of his time

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Awesome narration - enjoyed the characterizations,

What a dramatic life; I think Nero himself would be pleased! Poppaea's connections with Pompeii and the House of the Menander made me wonder if the famous "portrait" might have caught Nero's attention on a visit??