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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant in parts
Robert Graves' Claudius novels are a fantastic rendering of Roman life. It is sometimes difficult to keep up in the early parts of 'I, Claudius' because of the complexity of Claudius' family structure (which Graves does not shy away from explaining to the full!). However, once the family tree is out of the way, and a couple of relatively uninteresting wars have been...
Published on 30 Oct. 2001

versus
2.0 out of 5 stars Dull and Waffly
I gave I, Claudius three stars as I find it a somehow dated, waffly and boring way of writing historical fiction. Claudius The God is even worse, with endless chit chat about this and that event, this and that person, this and that tradition in the Roman empire and the Eastern province. Just seems to go on forever with no suspense or real plot line to keep one interested...
Published 3 months ago by Bubo


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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant in parts, 30 Oct. 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: The Claudius Novels (Paperback)
Robert Graves' Claudius novels are a fantastic rendering of Roman life. It is sometimes difficult to keep up in the early parts of 'I, Claudius' because of the complexity of Claudius' family structure (which Graves does not shy away from explaining to the full!). However, once the family tree is out of the way, and a couple of relatively uninteresting wars have been fought, you're on to an engrossing read, filled with twists and turns.
Caligula's excesses make particularly entertaining reading, whilst providing modern readers with a stark portrait of what excessive power can lead to.
If you survive the first 150 pages without falling asleep, you're there. This jewel of a book is definitely worth the archaelogical dig!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Claudius The God. Robert Graves - Historic fiction at its best, 2 Feb. 2011
By 
Victor (Hull, England) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
Why bother going to the trouble of inventing a decent plot and characters when history has already done it for you? The reigns of the Caesars in ancient Rome were full of memorable people and weird and wonderful occurrences driven by the power lust, greed and pure madness of the ruling family.

Telling the tale from an insider's perspective, this book tells the story of Claudius' reign as Caesar, his attempts to conquer Britain, his tragic marriage to the perfidious Messalina and his eventual death. In order to survive he plays up his image of the amiable idiot, never quite dangerous enough to be worth killing. But behind the mask was a quick and observant man, fascinated with establishing the truth for his history books.

Robert Graves provides Claudius with a compassionate personality, ill suited to his times. But this makes the narrating voice one with which we have much sympathy, especially when the cruel deceptions practiced by Messalina are revealed. The story is put forward in a clear and compelling fashion. Covering almost 20 years, and with a host of characters, it is epic in scale, yet centres around a very human story of just one man. Graves draws each character well, and provides them with distinctive mannerisms and voices, making each stand out clearly.

This book is a sequel to the equally great `I, Claudius', which details the Claudian family history, and Claudius' life up to being declared emperor.

These are absolute classics of English literature. Erudite, beautifully written, but also enthralling adventure stories that are highly accessible. Highly recommended to all.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book has everything!, 14 Feb. 2001
By A Customer
This book is the book that got me interested in Roman history. Written by historian Robert Graves, he weaves the known facts about the period into a fascinating story. You have it all in here, murder, intrigue, corruption, plots and poisoning. An invaluable insight into the lives they lead. I expect that Mr. Graves embellished a few points to smooth the story out but I was gripped from start to finish! If you haven't seen the series, I'm sure it's available through Amazon. The book is even better though!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quite simply the best historical novel of all time, 9 April 2000
By 
The 70's BBC production with Derek Jacobi in the lead role was quite simply an inspiration to me. I have blown the dust from this book many times to re-read & it never fails to conjour up memories of the BBC characters in my head.....John Hurt as Caligula, Sian Phillips, George Baker, Brian Blessed.... True, I am reviewing the book here and not the BBC adaptation, but the two are so linked. The life of Claudius the fool, the stammerer, the idiot is quite simply a joy to read. The family of Claudius are the ruling family of Rome, they all tolerate their jack-ass relative because he is viewed as harmless whilst they plot against their own for greed and power, revenge and hate. But is Claudius really the fool, or will his knowledge & cleverness lengthen his life-span ? Please read this book at sometime in your life and enjoy just like I did.....it will leave an imprint for ever.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Among the best books I have ever read., 1 Oct. 2006
This book was more or less the first I read on Roman history, and it has set off a thirst for Ancient Rome that had led to half a dozen more purchases (none of which can compare to Robert Graves' brilliant novels).

I'm not sure what it is that makes these books unputdownable. I read both in a week, and not being a particlarly fast reader that's very quick for me. Robert Graves styles it completely as a history. When you're reading it there is no doubt in your mind that Claudius is talking to you. There is very little dialogue, and there shouldn't be, because as these events occured two thousand years ago all conversations he puts in must be by their nature nebulous. The majority of the thing seems to be factual, and although historians have critisised Robert Graves for painting an incorrect picture of Claudius for the public, everything is firmly rooted in fact.

I can only remember one part in the whole of the split story that got a bit tedious, which was Claudius' Triumph (it went on a bit), but since there are usually a dozen points I yawn at in an ordinary novel, that is exceptional. I have to say that his two books climb up to my favourite five novels ever, and being at the stage in my life when I need to make important decisions about my future career, Graves has steered me irrevocably towards history.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An incredible achievement, 15 Sept. 2005
How can a man, writing 1900 years after the event, with all the intervening history between, the rise and fall of great empires, nations and peoples transpiring, living in an age, so unlike any other that has preceded it, of modernity, of the motor car, of mass transport, of radio and advertisements, of mass democracy and mass culture be able to recreate a feel of one of the great civilizations of Antiquity, and to put living words into mouths of people long dead and have them not seem contrived or ridiculously grand and unreal, to not be blinded and dumbed by the reverence for the subject the passing of time usually bestows, to not be tempted into a petty judgemental posture of insance acts and grotesque gestures? I don't know. But Robert Graves achieves something I did not think possible anymore.
I have read the classics only in translation, and therefore I can only comment on what I know: there is a style and power to much of the classics that escapes many modern novels. Thousands of years later they are still more alive than much that can be read now, printed only last month. Robert Graves manages to achieve that same feel of directness, simplicity and power of Classical writing, which, in theory, should be so simple, but is actually extremely difficult.He gives us the dust of the Roman Empire, the flickering light of torches lighting marble corridors, and human interactions that decided the destiny of millions.
Written in the 1930s, the books, aside from their great artistic merit, have a profound and deeply moving message about the nature of tyranny and the people who uphold it. There is even a portrait of Caligula which is not entirely without sympathy (and some great comic scenes).
The reader warms to the narrator, Claudius, and the novel's plot is very interesting and at times gripping.
From my reading of Twentieth Century Literature these works along with Graves' other, Count Belisarius, as amongst the very greatest; and an incredible achievement.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Claudius Continues, 26 Mar. 2014
By 
M. Dowden (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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In this novel Robert Graves continues Claudius’ fictional autobiography. At the end of ‘I, Claudius’ Claudius had just been proclaimed Emperor by the Palace Guard, and the story continues from then, but we also take a look back, as Claudius tells us of Herod Agrippa (the King Herod in the Bible) who was a contemporary of his. In fact we do not know how much of a role Herod played in Claudius’ succession to becoming Emperor and Graves probably makes their friendship much greater than it was in real life, but within the frame of this story it does work.

Graves was well informed of the period he was writing about and although scholarly he does play around with things where there are conflicting accounts and where there is room to mess about with historical accuracy. So as with all great historical fiction, the framework is accurate, it is just the finer details that have been played about with. As with the first novel this is still a compelling read and you are quickly drawn back into the story even if you have had a break between reading the two books.

As Claudius takes up the reigns of Emperor things are never going to be that easy and initially it is the backing of the Palace Guard that gives him the impetus to succeed. Of course there will always be the risk of assassination, and there are always others waiting to manipulate the Emperor to get their own way in certain matters. Whilst all know what Claudius’ wife, Messalina is like it takes Claudius a very long while to come to the discovery himself, and how he has been cuckolded and played for a fool. Taking in his conquest of Britain and his public works this is gripping and full of high politics, but at the same time laced throughout with humour.

In this edition you also will find at the rear of the book three different accounts of Claudius’ death as well as a satire by Seneca. Along with the first book this makes on the whole a deeply engrossing read that is full of warmth and humour despite the amount of bloodshed and political strife. Seamlessly blending fact and fiction Robert Graves also reminds us of one sure thing, that no matter the difference in years, the way we have become more modernized with communications, gadgets and comfort, human nature always remains the same. So although we can vote for our leader in this country and many others, and they don’t go around physically exterminating each other there are always character assassinations, spin and propaganda going on, and even if you are a leader there will always be a lot of work to do to keep others satisfied and maintain popularity with the public.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good but no I Claudius, 16 Aug. 2006
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This review is from: Claudius The God : (Paperback)
I went straight on to this after finishing off I Claudius in 3 days (fitted around work) and I was disappointed. It is good but pales by comparison with the earlier work.

It was difficult to wade through some of the stuff about Herod Agrippa and there were far too many asides about Druids or Religious Ceremonies or the Senate trials. While they do show Claudius's character such asides would constitue serious padding in a modern novel.

But of course this isn't a modern novel - it is almost an historical document in itself - showing a different pace, a different way of writing.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Claudius the God - the real fiction, 26 Sept. 2003
This review is from: Claudius the God (Hardcover)
Although this book is basically accurate, or as accurate as anybody can make it, it suffers from the usual "politics" of today in that it does not reveal the Emperor Claudius and his family in all their horrific glory, probably because that would put it in the pornography section or get it banned as a sick obscenity.
Claudius admits to some frailties and obscenities but the reality is several times greater than what we are invited to read. It is an entertaining first person work of fiction and - to tell the truth - I would not really want to know the rest of what went on as it would spoil both the storyline and the empathy with the character. As it stands it is one of those books one can come back to again and again and still get something new from it each time.
I recommend it to you as a good piece of fiction.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Salve, Imperator!, 16 Dec. 2003
Fantastic - divine even! Graves has written a fantastic pair of novels here, to the standard of Claudius himself, as the level of detail given is absolutely astounding.
His portrayal of the traits of every character is flawless, giving the reader a most vivid picture of the character while reading.
Yet this level of sophistication of the facts is not echoed in the actual writing, as this book is accessible to anyone, whether or not they have an interest in that particular period in history.
Someone once said (can't remember who!) - 'If a book is worth reading, it is worth buying' - "I, Claudius" is certainly a book which anyone should have in their collection.
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Claudius The God :
Claudius The God : by Robert Graves (Paperback - 28 Jun. 1977)
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