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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Triumph!!
Colleen McCullough was born in Australia. A neurophysicist, she established the department of neurophysiology at the Royal North Shore Hospital in Sydney She then worked as a researcher and teacher at Yale Medical School for ten years. She is the author of the record-breaking international bestseller The Thorn Birds and her series of books on Rome have also been...
Published on 14 Dec. 2007 by J. Chippindale

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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not the most successful of a wonderful series
McCullough's Masters of Rome series is, in my view, the most successful evocation of ancient Rome in fiction - far better than the light Lindsey Davis books or the Robert Harris volumes which are far more concerned with throwing a light on contemporary politics than recreating an ancient, and sometimes alien, culture. McCullough admittedly has a slight tendency to...
Published on 20 Feb. 2010 by Roman Clodia


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Triumph!!, 14 Dec. 2007
By 
J. Chippindale (England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Antony and Cleopatra (Hardcover)
Colleen McCullough was born in Australia. A neurophysicist, she established the department of neurophysiology at the Royal North Shore Hospital in Sydney She then worked as a researcher and teacher at Yale Medical School for ten years. She is the author of the record-breaking international bestseller The Thorn Birds and her series of books on Rome have also been bestsellers. Colleen lives on Norfolk Island in the Pacific with her husband.

Colleen McCullough has been one of my favourite authors, every since I read the book The First Man in Rome and then eagerly awaited the next in the series and then the next and so on. The book The October Horse was the story of Caesar and Cleopatra and now Antony and Cleopatra is a natural continuation of the Roman books. Although the story has been told many many times before and in many forms. Colleen McCullough does it in her own inimitable style, making the reader almost feel that they are beside the banks of the Nile.

Mourning the loss of her lover Caesar, the father of her only son, Cleopatra sees Mark Antony as another high ranking Roman who can support and protect her and provide more heirs. Mark Antony is bewildered. He assumed and expected to be Julius Caesar's heir, but after Caesar's murder it was his nephew Octavian who was named in the will. In many people's eyes Mark Antony was a womanizing, hard drinking brute, but he was a complex and intelligent character who was astute enough to see the benefits of his liaison with Cleopatra. Fighting, politics passion. It is all there.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, 1 Nov. 2008
This review is from: Antony and Cleopatra (Paperback)
Having read and then re-read the "First Man in Rome" series I was delighted to find that Colleen McCullough had written one final volume - "Anthony and Cleopatra." Having been delighted and thrilled by the others in the series I had no doubt before I'd even turned a page that it would be marvelous. I was, of course, completely correct. This final book in the series is as fresh, well-written and mind-blowingly good as all the rest. My reaction when I'd finished the book was the same as the reaction I had on finishing "The October Horse" - I was bereft. No author in this genre has the depth of knowledge or the sheer story-telling ability of Colleen McCullough - she is one of a kind, almost a genre in her own right. I have two messages for the author, if she ever reads this review - 1)I can't help but hope that there is at least one more book to come, if not several and 2) One of the previous reviewers states that it prompted him the read Suetonius and Tacitus, job done Ms.McCullough.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not the most successful of a wonderful series, 20 Feb. 2010
By 
Roman Clodia (London) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
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This review is from: Antony and Cleopatra (Paperback)
McCullough's Masters of Rome series is, in my view, the most successful evocation of ancient Rome in fiction - far better than the light Lindsey Davis books or the Robert Harris volumes which are far more concerned with throwing a light on contemporary politics than recreating an ancient, and sometimes alien, culture. McCullough admittedly has a slight tendency to descending at times into something close to soap opera but she balances that with a detailed political narrative that takes us into the senate, the private meetings and the public meetings where Roman politics actually happened.

Sadly this book, the last of the series, is less successful than the other books. Partly I think this is due to the familiarity of the story: while McCullough, as always, is faithful to the sources (Plutarch, Cicero's anti-Antony Philippics etc.) this is still a story very familiar to people interested in ancient history through the works of people like Ronald Symes, Karl Galinsky et al. as well as more popular historians. Plus, of course, we cannot ignore the re-tellings of Shakespeare (who himself lifted great chunks from North's translation of Plutarch e.g. `the barge she sat in' speech) and other fiction-writers.

The other reason why I found this less satisfying than the earlier books is that McCullough seems so in love with Julius Caesar that the books after his death tend to flag a little. Here she tries to build up Augustus as a replacement and spends a lot of time telling us how beautiful he is with his silvery-gilt hair etc which I found very off-putting and unnecessarily chick-lit-ish. I have to confess I'm not a fan of Augustus anyway and think he was a far astuter (and unpleasant) politician than she allows for and also someone who I've never found an attractive personality.

But if you've read the rest of this marvellous series then it is worth continuing to the end. But if you haven't tried these books yet, this isn't the place to start. The first book is First Man in Rome about Marius and Sulla, but I think the series really comes to life in Fortune's Favourites. Enjoy.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars lacks the energy of the earlier series, but well worth the read, 14 Sept. 2011
By 
rob crawford "Rob Crawford" (Balmette Talloires, France) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
Even though in the 6th installment of this series its energy was waning, I simply had to read this, what should be the final (7th) volume. It is, quite simply, the best series of historical novels on Rome that I have ever read; there are novels, such as Yourcenar's Memoires of Hadrian, that are superior and stand as works of art, but this series captures something of Rome, of the soul of human ambition and folly, that is undeniably great. At its best, the series can spark the imagination to delve deeper into history, an inspiration that can last a lifetime. That is certainly what it has accomplished for me.

Unfortunately, this is a deeply flawed novel. It is full of wooden dialogue, abrupt changes in conditions that are more jarring than adding to the story, and incomprehensible transformations of key characters at certain moments. It is not a flowing reading experience, but a bit of a chore to read through. Many historical episodes are explained in stupidly succinct dialogues, which never could have taken place in my opinion. That being said, even with its flaws, it held me to the very end. I wanted to see what she did with characters I knew so well, from Augustus and Agrippa to Marc Anthony and Cleopatra. You get McCullough's take on all of them and on the direction that Rome would take.

Anthony is at the apex of his career, having just negotiated his sphere of influence in a new triumvirate. Octavianus get the West, which is besieged and the most difficult, with Pompey's son in control of Sicily and hence with a stranglehold on grain shipments to Rome; he will get the blame, but ultimately, as Anthony doesn't comprehend, it is the seat of responsibility that will establish him as the face of power. Anthony gets the richer and more exotic East, with opportunities for plunder and glory, if he can defeat the Parthian Empire (i.e. the heirs of the Persian Empire). He must also deal with Herod, who bribes and kills his way to the kingship of Israel, and the Armenians. Most important, of course, is Cleopatra, the homely yet seductive queen of Egypt, whose son, Caesarion, is coming into his own and is the spitting image of his father, Julius Caesar. It is not lost on Octavianus that Caesarion is a mortal threat to his political identity as the heir to Julius Caesar.

Anthony is seduced by Cleopatra, who in the beginning is using him in the service of her megalomaniacal ambition to conquer Rome and install her son. His character flaws move to the fore: he lacks the vision and discipline of Caesar, is a drunk, and doomed by impetuous decisions. He is a sensualist, living in the moment and slipping from his romaness a little bit every day, until he begins to alienate his sworn allies. Cleopatra, too, is a flawed sovereign of questionable judgment, good at manipulation but not strategy or policy. Together, they are a deadly combination that can lead to disaster of truly historic proportion. Meanwhile, the wily Octavianus is plotting a political career that can only be called genius, even if he is not the equal of his adoptive father, Julius. His stalwort supporter and gifted adjunct is Agrippa, something of a wooden soldier and a rather pedestrian character. Octavianus is coldly calculating and capable of murder, but also brilliantly intuitive.

If I could put the reading experience in a nutshell, the novel appealed to my intellectual curiosity, but not to my senses. I expect a great historical novel to evoke more than explain, interpret, and analyse. That makes the reading experience stale rather than sensual.

Recommended with these caveats in mind.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great stuff, 31 Mar. 2009
By 
John Hopper (London, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Antony and Cleopatra (Paperback)
Wonderful stuff, a return to form after the slight dip I perceived in The October Horse (though that may have been false expectations due to the long gap since Caesar). The author is clearly pro-Octavian and I share her view that Octavian's triumph was by far the better outcome for the Roman Empire at that point, in terms of bringing about peace after decades of civil war. Caesarion emerges as a strong character here and his death at Octavian's hands is poignant and macabrely logical. Antonius comes off poorly here and is only superficially the hero of romantic legend, while Cleopatra's ambitions for Egypt are as great as Octavian's for Rome. Great stuff.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Is this the end?, 8 Aug. 2008
By 
R. Moore "Ros Moore" (Wellingborough England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Antony and Cleopatra (Paperback)
Having bought the whole set of the Masters of Rome, sadly this seems to be the final volume ! There really is no need to write a synopsis of the book I think we all know the story of Anthony and Cleopatra a la Hollywood! and Hollywood this ain't !
This was a very good read, taking up the story from the murder of Caeser, to Mark Antony's fury at not getting his hands on the legacy of Caeser..power and money. Sadly it didn't make me like or love the charactor of Mark Antony any more than I did before.
Though maybe it definitely did shed a more light on the charactor of Octavius, of whom, I really can't make up my mind whether I love or hate him!
If you read this book you will find that C.McC. has debunked many of the so called accounts of Antony and Cleopatra, altogether making a different slant than many books of fiction on the subject, and I believe a more believable account.
I really do recomend most highly this book, I just feel gutted that is most likely the very last on the Republic. As Octavius changed his name to..Augustus the first Emperor of Rome.
(If you want more, but real gossip try Tacitus and Suetonius and Plutarch..this series got me reading them.)
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5.0 out of 5 stars good read, 30 April 2014
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i found this book to be an enjoyable read, a fitting end to (Master of Rome) series. however you don't have to read the series to enjoy the book, but same can be said for all off the Masters of Rome books.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Glad Its Over., 2 Jun. 2014
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Always enjoyed McCullough's Roman series. However, I'm glad it has finished now. I got a bit bored after the assassination of Caesar!! I never liked Augustus much!
Tom
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars for McCullough funs, 3 Jan. 2010
By 
S. Peter (Budapest, Hungary) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Antony and Cleopatra (Paperback)
Those who know the Rome series of McCullough will not be disappointed at all. Again the author took the historical events and the main characters of the period and mixed it with fiction. The result is a story where you get an insight into the main characters' personality. The storyline is sometime too detailed but as I said, this is fully in line with McCullough style.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 20 Feb. 2015
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Another great book from Colleen McCullough, which makes these well known historical characters come to life.
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Antony and Cleopatra
Antony and Cleopatra by Colleen McCullough (Paperback - 20 May 2008)
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