6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Good for beginners,
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This review is from: Last Pagan: Julian the Apostate and the Death of the Ancient World (Paperback)
I think that many reviewers have pointed out the strong sides to this book, while missing many of its weak spots. If I focus on these it's not that this is a bad book as such, but rather that there should be some balance in the reviews.
First it is a good book for beginners, in that it provides you with the basic information on the period as well as a good bibliography. That said there is no new information here if you're at all read on the period. Certainly if you've read any other biography of Julian you're highly unlikely to find anything new. I doubt it set out to be more than this, but you should be aware of it.
As for the prose style I personally found it a tad sparse. The author is a journalist and it shows in his writing, which to me reads a bit like an extended article or opinion piece. Not that this is necessarily bad, many modern readers seem to like that sort of thing. If however you prefer descriptive and evocative language you won't find that here.
Finally there is an annoying tendency to draw conclusions from limited facts. Certainly they are educated guesses, well founded too for that matter. Indeed I am inclined to agree with the author as to the nature of Julian's death. Yet there were times when it interrupted the rhythm of my reading, so take note.
So for these reasons I make it 3 star rather than 4.