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Fortune's Favourites (Masters of Rome) Paperback – 7 Aug 2003
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"McCullough spins a stupendous tale of murderous ambition, guile, assassination, tragedy, love and lust...a magnificent tour de force" (Publishers Weekly)
PART OF THE ACCLAIMED MASTERS OF ROME SERIESSee all Product description
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Top customer reviews
This is only one of the whole series, that I haven't yet finished (out of sequence). In a couple of years I'll enjoy re-reading them all in chronological order.
An wonderful way to absorbing Roman History from the later Republic through to the ascent of 'Augustus', the first Emperor and Gaius Julius Caesar's heir and (great?) nephew Octavianus (Octavian).
Colleen McCullough has been one of my favourite authors, ever 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 Fortune's Favourites, third in the series covers the period in Roman history when, perhaps the greatest change took place. A triangle of three of possibly the most recognized names in Roman history, Lucius Cornelius Sulla, Pompey and a young man, yet to make a name for himself Julius Caesar.
The glory days of Gaius Marius are gone and his one time right hand man, Sulla and the young, 22-year-old Pompey, who has already designated himself The Great are each vying for sole control of Rome. What they are not taking seriously is the rising star of a young soldier, who at this stage in his career is not afraid of hanging onto the togas of the more influential men in Roman society. He is already beginning to make a name for himself and Sulla and Pompey will ignore him at their peril.
McCullough is superb on treating the minutiae of Roman life and never fights shy of intricate political debates and speeches. Her evocation of Rome is exemplary, and gives a far more accurate picture of the culture than all those books full of sex, corruption and decadence (the Romans would have been horrified!)
This probably isn't for anyone wanting adventures with gladiators or the legions, as it pays attention to the senate, to the political nuances of the republic, and the in-fighting that takes place between the leading political families.
There are moments where the book falls a little into soap opera territory but overall this is probably the next best thing to reading the actual historical sources.
This story takes us through the last years of Sulla, the rise of Pompey the Great, the war in Iberia (Spain) between Sulla's forces and his last Roman enemy Sertorius (a charismatic Roman general turned Iberian warlord), the first steps of young Ceasar's career and also Spartacus slave rebellion. It is extremely erudit, historically very true, well paced, full of intelligent dialogues, naturalistic in its description of the unspeakable cruelty of Roman world but also witty and humouristic by moments (the description of the decadent hellenistic king of Bithynia is particularly irresistible).
The description of Spartacus rebellion is very interesting and I believe it is very useful to read it to have another view of this event - mostly known in the public perception by the (magnificent) movie with Kirk Douglas and Tony Curtiss. Needless to say, here the vision, being historically more accurate, is also less glamourous but not less moving...
Now, author continues to describe Ceasar as a God like being (although in this book he is still mostly a teenager) surrounded by inferiors. It can get on the nerves of the reader (it did on mines) when most of future Ceasar's antagonists like Pompey or Bibulus are described in the worst possible way, preparing the reader to accept their future fate in the following books... This worshipping of Ceasar and bashing of all others, even great generals like Lucullus or Marcus Crassus, is the only thing that in my humble opinion Colleen McCullough got wrong in this great historical cycle.
Still, it doesn't change the fact that this is a most excellent thing, coming after two great books and leading us into more great readings. Warmly recommended!
It covers the rise of Pompey, the childhood and early life of Julius Caesar, and the decline and deaths of Marius and Sulla.
McCullough is superb on treating the minutiae of Roman life and never fights shy of intricate political debates and speeches. This is probably the next best thing to reading the actual historical sources.
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Most recent customer reviews
Really good book.