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Empire: An Epic Novel of Ancient Rome (Rome 2) Hardcover – 30 Sep 2010

3.8 out of 5 stars 31 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 576 pages
  • Publisher: Constable (30 Sept. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1845298586
  • ISBN-13: 978-1845298586
  • Product Dimensions: 16 x 4.8 x 24 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 645,794 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

Strewn with spectacular scenes..intrigue and cruelty. (Bent)

This is a great book by a great writer. (newbooks)

A wonderful saga that makes terrific use of rich source material. (Daily Telegraph)

Book Description

The eagerly awaited sequel to the bestselling Roma.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is simply awful.

Let me be clear. I have been a longtime fan of Steven Saylor. The first two thirds of his Roma sub Rosa series about Gordianus the Finder are brilliant.

My problem with Saylor really began with Roma, the first in his pompous new series about ancient Rome, and really brings Empire to a halt. What seems to have happened is that Saylor has done huge amounts of research and feels the need to ensure everyone knows it. As a result the book - as far as I had to heart to read it anyway - is a long series of dialogues when a character can't just say what is happening - it has to be then explained in terms of what the history of the person/place/event is, what the colour of their clothes were - what the metaphysical or allegorical omens of the day were. All of which simply seems to say "Aren't I clever with what I know.." But you really just want to shout at the page "Get on with it".

Because Saylor's writing style is so ponderous and exasperating quite what the story is becomes meaningless. To his credit (hence two stars)he's trying to tell the story of ancient Rome from birth to death through one family line. But by now you just don't care. I'm saddened to say I couldn't finish this - and hope the charity shop at least makes some money from my misery.

If you want to read really classy stories about Rome read Robert Harris, or go back to Robert Graves and I Claudius. Give Saylor a very wide miss. Sorry.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Like others, I have been a great fan of Gordianus. Bringing to life some of Cicero's great forensic speeches was always a worthwhile project, and Saylor's execution was well-judged. I kind of half-enjoyed the more plodding Roma, because it dealt with little-visited periods of Roman history.
But Empire is a different matter. I found I wasn't learning much, because unlike the Gordianus series, or Lindsey Davis' Falco, where it's easy to tell the difference between the historical figures and the lowlifes who provide most of the narrative, here you have to know already that Pinarius senior is a historical figure, but (as far as I know) his descendants aren't. The dialogue is over-didactic and stilted. On the whole, not much fun.
But I stayed with it until page 93, when I found that the ancient family amulet, interpreted by Claudius as a winged phallus, is suddenly reinterpreted by the more radically-minded twin - in 41AD, less than a decade after the crucifixion - as the Christian cross 'on which our saviour, Jesus Christ, was killed' and which is thereby 'a holy symbol'. As any fule kno, the cross did not emerge distinctively as a Christian symbol for another century at least.
Sorry, Steven, I really can't be bothered with The Robe revisited. Save it for the US market.
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By Parm TOP 500 REVIEWER on 25 July 2011
Format: Kindle Edition
Is this the death of what was a really good series?
In the past its always been a bit ploddy and slow, but i always took that as part of the story, its not designed for pace its not swords and sandals type fiction.
But Empire...Gah! its just.... well so dreary it felt like i was being dragged through the plot kicking and screaming "no leave me alone, let me find a decent book" .
There is plenty of the usual research, but as other have noted, instead of letting you discover it i felt like i was being hit around the head with the text book by teacher for not knowing it.

This maybe my last for Saylor, the power has been waining... the empire may be dead Death to the emperor!

NOT recommended
(Parm)
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Format: Hardcover
It took me some time to track this book down since, before Christmas, it seemed conspicuous by its absence from the shelves. Marketing I suppose! I loved Steven Saylor's previous book in the series - "Roma" - and had looked forward to reading this with some relish. I suppose it is inevitable that under such circumstances the reality was a little disappointing, but there are some very real flaws in this work. Perhaps the most annoying was the habit of characters explaining situations that were obviously well known to those they were speaking to. You know the sort of thing - "As you know Pinarius.... " A clumsy device that someone with Steven Saylor's writing experience should avoid. Some of the plot was a little contrived but, given the strange twists and turns in Roman history, not so much as to make this work untenable. As a device to describe Roman history from Augustus to Hadrian from the point of view of witnesses not directly connected to the various imperial families it does work, though somewhat awkwardly at times. Still, a creditable effort which, despite its flaws, I enjoyed. Is it worth the effort? Yes it is and I look forward to the next installment that must inevitably be in the pipeline.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Taylor has plagued this book with 'info dumping' that is overloading the reader with information that is either not necessary to the story or that reads like a page from a history book, a basic mistake for even amateur writers of historical fiction. Alas there seems to be little good historical fiction around these days, Taylor in fact is the lesser of two evils when we compare his writing to Conn Iggdulen's 'Emperor series' (at least Taylor has done his research and is historically accurate). But here principally is where he fails as a writer of fiction. The characters and events feel like they are merely there to relay the history of Rome or quote from the classical texts e.g "as my tutor Titus Livius once said - (copy and paste from an online source of Livy's history of Rome - end quote" applause from the people surrounding the character and a smug smile from Mr Taylor himself knowing he has used an actual historical text, a direct quotation into his work of fiction! How clever! How novel! How...dull once it is done over and over ad nauseum. Indeed we have the absurd situation where characters directly relay to one another, like actors in a play, information that the character already knows, breaking the illusion that this scene is real. For example one of the characters says to Lucius, "the plague that devastated Rome - the plague that killed your mother Chrystheme" as if the character could forget his own mother dying, or her name or the fact that Rome was currently being devastated by plague.Read more ›
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