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Collen McCullough's Rome Series

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Interest in HF: I can't answer this in 100 characters. Sorry.
Favourite HF book: Checkmate, the final novel in the Lymond series
Preferred HF: Literary novels. Late medieval and Renaissance.
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Post by Margaret » Fri January 15th, 2010, 6:38 am

When she described the young Sulla in attendance at a sacrifice, early in First Man in Rome, I was hooked. Just a brief passage, but it encapsulated everything the man would become - from his magnetism to his twisted psyche. McCullough made him interesting, where another writer would have made him merely horrific.
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Post by Sharz » Fri January 15th, 2010, 3:27 pm

I've read the first three books of the series and I positively adore it. I have the next two, but I'm going to hold off a bit. Space it out, because once it's done, it's over, and I want to string it out a bit. I suspect I'll finish the series by the end of the year, though.

Kalliethrix, it's well worth the read regardless of how you feel about Cato. This series is SO much bigger and deeper than any one character.

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Post by Chatterbox » Fri January 15th, 2010, 6:01 pm

[quote=""Sharz""]once it's done, it's over[/quote]

Well, not altogether! I've re-read the entire series three times; once recently, and twice before, in advance of the publication of each of the last two novels. There are some parts of that which never grow stale...

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Post by Sharz » Fri January 15th, 2010, 6:55 pm

I hear you. I am a re-reader, so I'm sure I will read McCullough's Rome series several more times. But you can get burnt out on a series of such LONG books, one right after another. For example, I've read the first four Outlander books 4 times, but I've never read 5 again, even though I liked it almost as much as 1-4. I keep thinking that I will read it again this time, but I always burnout first. I don't want to get burnt out on Rome. I want to savor it.

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Love McCullough!

Post by fljustice » Mon April 19th, 2010, 5:38 pm

I've found that people either love or hate this series. I come down on the love side. I found her research breath taking and her story telling compelling (for the most part.) I agree there are occasional draggy bits, but I put up with them for what I can learn. Antony and Cleopatra are on my TBR pile along with Harris' Imperium. I'm looking forward to both.
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Post by SusannaG » Mon April 19th, 2010, 10:02 pm

Antony and Cleopatra is not my favorite in the series (that may be Fortune's Favorites), but I did like it a great deal. I also enjoyed Imperium, though not as much.

It was interesting reading Harris' books about Cicero (well the first two, anyway) paired with the relevant parts of McCullough's series; the same events handled in very different manners and wildly different portrayals of the personalities involved.
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Harris' take on Cicero

Post by Kallithrix » Mon April 26th, 2010, 11:50 am

I loved Imperium and have got Lustrum on my shelf waiting to be read (as soon as I've forced myself to finish the plodding Pauline Gedge novel I'm currently snoring my way through).

It's probably because I'm a total geek when it comes to rhetoric, love nothing more than reading a bit of Demosthenes, and have admired Cicero from the moment I first picked up his Philippics (which never approach the masterful statesmanship or profoundly dignified prose of Demosthenes' originals, being more of an exercise in personal invective than any actual attempt at sound political advice, but still rollicking stuff!). I always felt that Cicero got a bad rap from both contemporary and modern sources, and after reading De Officiis (basically his moral self defence for the choices of his political career masquerading as advice on duty to his son) I felt really sorry for the guy. So I was really pleased by Harris' portrayal of him. I thought it was sympathetic yet critical at the same time, full of both praise and censure so felt far more balanced than most novels that just depict him as a pompous, cowardly, hypocritical little demagogue.

I also thought it was a very original subject for an historical novel, focusing not on the battles and big political power struggles, but a view from street level of the electioneering that most certaintly went on in the background of all these great events of history. Fascinating stuff.

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Post by Gabriele Campbell » Fri December 17th, 2010, 11:56 pm

Another McCullough fan here. :) I've read this series several times. I agree with Carla though that Caesar's Women is the weakest. And October Horse is definitely not the right place to start the series. McCullough is also a bit too much a Caesar fan - personally I don't like the man - but I can forgive her for the great tapestry she weaves.

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Post by lauragill » Mon July 11th, 2011, 5:17 am

I've read the first four books and liked them, though it took a bit of effort. I'm waiting for the last three to be re-released in the new paperback editions.

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