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Caesar [Paperback]

Allan Massie
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

2 Jun 1994
'Massie's achievement is to infuse the mythical emperor with blood . . . he invigorates his characters with voices that seem to echo the present, not the past, and which are utterly convincing . . . a piece of bravura invention' Independent

Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Sceptre (2 Jun 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0340599103
  • ISBN-13: 978-0340599105
  • Product Dimensions: 1.5 x 12.8 x 19.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 291,252 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Book Description

'To take the conspiracy against Julius Caesar - one of the most famous murder plots in history - and make of it something fresh and exciting is no small feat. This is what Allan Massie has done in this fine novel which should appeal equally to those who know their Roman history and those for whom it is only a cloudy rumour of remote events' Evening Standard

About the Author

Allan Massie is the award-winning author of many novels, including his Roman Quartet - Antony, Augustus, Tiberius and Caesar - as well as several works of non-fiction. He lives in the Scottish Borders and writes for the Daily Telegraph and the Scotsman.

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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars
4.0 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Really top autobiographical fiction 14 Feb 2005
Decimus Marcus Brutus, aka Mouse. The narrator, and one of those responsible for stabbing Caesar to death (don't worry, this isn't giving the story away). The general's perspective is so humble and inward-looking that I soon felt I knew him as a friend. Every relationship has been masterfully crafted, and Caesar himself seems a god-incarnate - just right. The grim inevitability of it all held me until the last - Mouse both loved and hated Caesar because he knew just as Caesar was the cause of his rise, he would be the man behind his fall.
Be aware that sex is very prevalent, generally dealt with well in my opinion; and that although this novel has only one swear word (as far as I can remember - possibly discounting the sex), it is the single best use of an expletive I have ever read.
But then who ever said in Rome they were abstinent, tea-total and kind-mouthed? Massie probably gets it just right, a difficult task.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Insightful and Fun 5 Jan 2004
Massie brings to life the period of Caesar's dictatorship for life and his assassination. He tells the story from the outside, using one of Caesar's most trusted generals, a noble from an old family, as narrator. This device gives the reader a good sense of how the Roman aristocracy saw Caesar's rise to power and why some thought that he had to be killed.
What this book is not is a view of Caesar from the inside. We never really learn what drives him or why he left himself open to murder the way he did. That's for another novel.
Massie is very effective in emplying modern, even slangy diction, in a believable way. He is also strong on conveying a feeling of what daily life in Rome was like. And he seems to know his facts.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Re-telling 7 Nov 2011
There is nothing new here but Massie tells the tale from an enriching perspective; from the viewpoint of one of Caeser's lieutenants, Decimus Brutus who the reader comes to know intimately, and admires tremendously. It's high tragedy by the time the assassination looms. There is tenderness in this deeply personal take on the violent demise of the great man. The book is perhaps a little sluggish in the first half but it's never less than perfectly readable.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Took a while to get into 16 Dec 2006
The first two thirds of this were a little difficult to get through, perhaps due to a certain lack of narrative drive, though I am a fan of Roman history and have read and loved all of Colleen McCullough's Masters of Rome series. It picked up in the final third with the run up to the assassination.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 2.3 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars OK 11 Jun 2000
By Sarah - Published on
The mistake I made was to read Massie's "Caesar" just after I read Colleen McCullough's book of the same title. The contrast is pretty big - Massie evidently enjoys confirming every rumour, and generally having as much sex and scandal in this book as possible. To be honest, Massie turns great historical figures into a joke. Decimus Brutus, the narrator of the story, has a love affair with Cleopatra, Clodia and Octavian (the young Augustus) There is nothing at all in any ancient sources to back this up. Massie's own opinion doesn't really come into anything - if there has been a scandal mentioned as a possibility somewhere in the sources, Massie confirms it and also exaggerates it wildly. On top of this, his detail is patchy and inaccurate. He puts Octavian forwards as Caesar's nephew, not great nephew, he does not mention politics or military force, and his characters are all developed through sexual relations with one another.
The book is OK, however, it is reasonably well written and worth reading for those who know the characters of ancient Rome. For those who don't, I'd reccomend just picking up a Jackie Collins - all the sex and no politics! That seems to be what Massie is aiming for in the first place.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Caesar from Another View 3 Nov 2011
By RE Krause - Published on
Couldn't decide whether to rate this one as 3 stars or 4 - probably 3.5. Anyway, reading the story of Caesar from the view of Decimus Junius Brutus Albinus, one of his closest friends and advisers and one of the assassins, was fascinating. The author demonstrates how Caesar may have alienated himself from those who supported and advanced his career throughout his life. Or, was the assassination just the result of jealousy? As the story evolves it appears, according to Massie, that the only opinion that may be important to Caesar is his own. How can anyone doubt Caesar and his decisions yet those who campaigned or served in politics with him well know he is just a man albeit a brilliant one. I was at first put off by the abrupt approach that Massie used to begin the story and it took me a bit to get into the character. And, at times the story seemed to be to drag as Decimus dwells on his own life and problems. How much is rumor and how much is historical fact? We all know that historical accounts are often projected to provide positive or biased views by the writer. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the tale and the premise that Massie puts forward. Quite a different approach but a most interesting one.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Slow Going 17 Jan 2010
By Kindle Customer - Published on
Few historical figures have been written about as much as Gaius Julius Caesar. In addition to straight history, there are innumerable works of fiction, not the least of which is William Shakespeare's play.

Allan Massie seems to be keenly aware that he is on heavily trodden ground, and struggles to find something new or fresh to add. He studiously avoids all the dramatic moments (most major events happen off-stage) and the result is a very slow-paced, uninvolving book. Despite the addition of much fanciful gossip about the sex lives of the famous characters, it was a struggle for me to keep reading. Fortunately, the book is short enough and Massie's writing is literate, so I did read on to the end.

However, after Massie's earlier Augustus and Tiberius, which I enjoyed very much, this one falls flat and was a major disappointment.
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