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First I have to compliment Colleen McCullough on her research Truly an outstanding effort and very praiseworthy Her glossary at the end of the book is excellent and one which I have referred back tothen once for just general information Having said that I now have to state that the entire series has been going down in quality since the second installment The Grass Crown With the first two novels it is apparent that Ms McCullough wrote themor less simultaneously over a period of several years while doing her very extensive research I read that she spent over five years researching and writing the first chapters and it shows The attention to detail is excellent, her characters come to life, they sound and act like Romans (Silly thing to write actually Let's go with they don't sound and act like people living in the late Twentieth Century None of us actually know what ancient Romans sounded or acted like do we) There is nothing modern about her dialogue, plot, or characterization After a short while I felt like I was reading a prequel to Robert Graves classic novels about Claudius The only thing I felt there wasn't enough of was the biting wit that was so prevalent in Graves work But I could live with that.Unfortunately ,starting with the third installment, I saw the old Colleen McCullough coming through The bestselling author who has written The Thorn Birds and Tim It was obvious that the research was done and the dramatic stage set was built Now Ms McCullough was simply filling in with her trademark writing Instead of a series of Roman novels there is a soap opera with modern characters running around in togas Instead of intriguing and fleshed out historical personae there is hero worship of Julius Caesar and two dimensional characters I made it through the fourth installment and gave up More tired then disgusted for what had been rather unusual was now become typical and could just as easily be set in New York City of today I recommend the first two novels highly In my opinion they reach a level higher then the average summertime read, but after that one has mind candy Read I Claudius and Claudius the God and His Wife Messalina by Robert Graves if you want truly entertaining fiction set in the Roman Empire. Monthly group read with Historical Fictionistas!A solid four stars, which will probably get bumped up to five once I get a chance to reread this in its entirety rather than listening to the abridged audiobook Don't get me wrong, the audiobook is fantastic, but abridged *shrugs* DOS did a fantastic job reading, as I knew he would, and McCullough's research shines through each of these characters I don't know how much of each character was made up and how much was historical fact (aside from Gaius Marius ruling for six unprecedented terms), and to be honest I really didn't care because that's how good the story was Excited to reread this, and I've already got book two on the shelf at home! :)DAVID OGDEN STIERS READS THE AUDIO? HELL YES. This book is justa collosal achievement The Thornbirds is just eh for me, her take on PP made me really appreciate her as a skilled author and storytellerbut THIS book makes me revere and idolize her as one of the best authors in existance.This is an almost 1000 page book about the ancient Roman senate, and I was addicted to every single word How awesome is that? I was terrified to start it, when I glanced over the almost 300 page glossary, all I could think was man, what if I'm not smart enough to read this? I shouldn't have worried! All you have to do is trustingly place yourself in McCullough's hands, and her book will entertain as well as inform She made this story so captivating that I was on the edge of my seatthan onceover such things as a massive grain shortage and the passing of a bill to grant basic Roman citizens (the 'Head Count') land.These people with their 3 and 4 word ridiculous names will quickly become real people, and by the end you'll feel like you've been reading about them for years.Totally awesome. There is something terribly reassuring about being in politics to enrich oneself It's normal It's human It's forgivable It's understandable The ones to watch are the ones who are in politics to change the world They do real damage, the powermen and the altruists.I've always been hesitant about reading The First Man in Rome, Colleen McCullough's magnum opus about the Roman Republic I just didn't know what to expect, and the size of the book (my very large hardcopy version had 700 pages) was a little offputting, too However, I loved her writing in The Thornbirds and I knew that McCullough was a history buff, so I had to check the book out when I saw it in the library I'm glad I've read it It was difficult to get used to the names and find out who is who at first, but ultimately the stories of the main characters develop and interlope and become quite interesting McCullough goes into a lot detail in describing life and customs in ancient Rome some I was familiar with and A LOT that I learned Her attention to detail is fantastic And, yet, she does not beat the reader over the head with explanations of the political systems, the structure of the military, or Roman history McCullough requires some preexisting knowledge from her readers and it makes the book very engaging it's like a dialogue between reader and author.In short, The First Man in Rome is a brilliant example of what historical fiction can be.And, yet, why can I not give the book 5 stars?Well, some of the story is drawn out way beyond what I was able to pay attention to Yes, some parts dragged There, I said it What drove me nutsthan this, tho, was that there were no chapters! It was difficult at times, especially after putting the book down, where the story was at and which person the particular part was focusing on Seriously, this structural/editing choice really got to me.Lastly, though, as much as I admire McCullough's work here, some of the ways that the Roman paranoia of an impending invasion was portrayed almost without comment made me wonder whether McCullough, despite her love of detail, stuck to the classic Romanisbest narrative for dramatic reasons or whether she truly subscribed to that particular historical perspective In Thornbirds, part of the admiration I have for McCullough's work is that she challenged some of the characters attitudes or indeed created one of the finest characters in the book to antagonize an entire religion! whereas this is missing from The First Man in Rome I really missed the gumption of a character of Mary Carson's quality and not even Sulla could make up for this.Marius glared The worst of you Sulla! is that I will never know what makes you work! What makes your legs go up and down, what makes your arms swing, why you smile like a wolf And what you really think That I'll never, never know.If it's any consolation, brotherinlaw, nor will anyone else Even me, said Sulla. a largerthanlife, fascinating novelHalfway through this book, I found myself with eyes full of dark circles That's when I realized that I haven't had a full night's sleep since picking up this novel Which in turn made me wonder at my reluctance towards reading another Colleen McCullough book (my previous book by her was, unfortunately, less than memorable) Suffice to say, after reading The First Man in Rome, I am nowthan willing to eat my words and bow at the brilliance of McCullough's writing.In an attempt to be objective, though, not every part of this story was that engrossing Some accounts of warfare or political intrigues were too protracted that I just had to skim through it And the latter part about Saturninus' and Glaucia's machinations just felt like a lastditch effort by the author to maintain the drama right up to the end Rome with Marius at the helm of power, proved the most riveting part of the book.Other than that, I have only good things to say about this novel The depiction of the Roman Republic was so vivid and gripping The people, their stories, and the interactions among them were so relatable they can be material for today's soap operas: from the live organism that is the Senate, with all its peculiarities, to the women behind the men, and even the State's enemies – every character of note was given life under the author's succinct prose and witty dialogues I don't know how she did it, but this gargantuan scope of a lifelike historical fiction is a guaranteed pagetuner. I've read the entire Man in Rome series TWICE 900 plus pages per book My alltimefavorite books I'd read them all yet again should I feel so compelled I tried to get them all in hardbound so I could keep them for my grandson to read I'm only missing the one I loaned out (Dang, I shouldn't do that!) In my opinion there is not adefinitive, comprehensive, and well researched set of novels written about the Roman Empire, Caesar in particular Love history? Read, read, read! McCullough is superb on ancient Rome and genuinely does bring it to life without resorting to any spurious and trite fictional claims that the Romans were just like us She has read all the sources and sticks to them, simply fleshing out the characters and events so that they make narrative sense This isn't by any means an easy read, since she delves into the intricacies of Senate debates and internal politics, but it is quite unlike anything else that has been published on Rome.This is the first volume of her massive 7 book series, and probably covers the leastknown period of Republican history: the rise of Marius and Sulla, and the transformation of the Roman army, arguably the first steps towards civil war and the fall of the Republic.There are times where (in this book) the characters slightly tend to soap opera, but they are few Overall, a superb read This only lost 1 star because the middle books are even better! The First Man in Rome (Masters of Rome Book 1), by Colleen McCullough is an absolute masterpiece Sometimes we forget the greatest treasures we have are closest to home McCullough was born in New South Wales, Australia, and comes from a medical background Interestingly, she lived on Norfolk Island, a tiny Australian Island in the South Pacific This is where she died several years ago I have paid scant regard to McCullough over the past few decades, I recall such works as Tim (early Mel Gibson film) and Thorn Birds when I was a young bloke I didn’t really know she was so adept, knowledgeable and able to write an epic piece of Historical Fiction like this As someone who has obsessed about Ancient Rome for the past two years, culminating in my first visit there earlier in 2020, reading a book like this was the ultimate treat.McCullough not only breathes life into real characters of Republican Rome she paints a picture of settings such as the Roman Forum where much of the political action takes place in this story I’ve spent some time cross referencing these characters and major events described in this book, and they actually happened In fact, they are described in such detail the author must have conducted a colossal amount of research into this topic Naturally, there are some fictional characters and the Author must have taken some artistic licence in describing the lives of these people From my understanding of ancient Rome this story is believable and mostly legitimate One other exciting aspect of this work is it concentrates on the Republic Period, this storyspecifically covers 110 to around 100 BCE So, for those who don’t know, this is before the Imperial Period (of the Emperors – the first being Augustus) which commenced in 27 BCE This story therefore deals with political leaders many of us are unaware of.The two main characters in this story are:Gaius Marius (15887 BCE)This guy is one of the most fascinating characters of Republican Rome and was made Consul (the main decision makers in the Curia) a record seven times, which was unheard of He was an amazing General but a crappy Politician – which makes you wonder how he was so successful as a Political Player during this period This story provides considerable insight into the man and how he achieved this.Lucius Cornelius Sulla (13879 BCE)Sulla was such a fascinating guy, not only an accomplished military leader, Machiavellian, brutal, handsome, a capable politician with a scintillating private life There is never a dull moment when Sulla makes an appearance.Other significant players of this period are involved such as Gaius Julius Caesar (Grandfather and Father of the one we all know), Sextus Julius Caesar, Publius Rutilius Rufus, Julia, Aurelia Cotta, Marcus Livius Drusus, King Jugurtha of Numidia and so on and so on – too many to mention, by far In fact, it can become quite confusing and complicated, so there are good periods of this substantial book where the reader needs to pay attention – even then it can still be confusing.If you want to read and understandabout the skulduggery of Roman politics, corruption, daily life of the rich and poor, slavery, the sexual proclivities of the elite, housing, the marauding Germanic Tribes (there were hundreds of thousands of them), farming, pirates, African Kings, warfare all this whilst creating a wonderful, colourful, noisy, chaotic and beautiful mental picture of ancient Rome and client states – I can surely recommend this book If you love history, especially Roman history this is a must read.The Author even includes numerous maps and pictures of the main players I particularly enjoyed the maps, as they even showed where various characters lived in the Roma Urbs (City of Rome) in great hand drawn detail How exciting!!!!!Now I’ve devoured this, I must get into a meaty piece of NonFiction on Gaius Marius.Loved it 5 Stars This is one hell of a monster of a book Not only because of the page count, which is over 800 pages, but because of the sheer volume of information that you’re provided with Even though I was thoroughly interested by the subject matter, it did get to be a bit overwhelming at times because of the amount of names and storylines It was a bit difficult to keep track of sometimes But I did thoroughly enjoy it despite that, I just needed to put it down sometimes and let my brain absorb What I enjoyed most was how historically accurate the story was, the author put in an incredible amount of research and it really shows! 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