Continuing the epic story begun in his <>i>New York Times best-selling novel Roma, Steven Saylor charts the destinies of five more generations of the aristocratic Pinarius family, from the reign of Augustus to height of Rome’s empire.The Pinarii witness the machinations of Tiberius, the madness of Caligula, and the decadence of Nero. The deadly paranoia of Domitian gives way to the Golden Age of Trajan and Hadrian - but even the most enlightened emperors wield the power to destroy their subjects on a whim.
Empire is filled with the dramatic, defining moments of the age, including the Great Fire of 64 A.D, Nero’s persecution of the Christians, and the astounding opening games of the Colosseum. But at the novel’s heart are the choices and temptations faced by each generation of the Pinarii. One becomes the plaything of the notorious Messalina. One becomes the lover of a Vestal virgin. One falls under the spell of Nero, while another is drawn to the strange new cult of those who call themselves Christians.
While the Pinarii struggle for survival, they also search for meaning. Some cling to the worship of the gods who made Rome great. Others explore the mysteries of astrology, follow the teachings of the wiseman Apollonius of Tyana, or celebrate the beautiful youth elevated by Hadrian to the status of a god.
However diverse their destinies, all the Pinarii are united by the mysterious gold talisman called the fascinum handed down from a time before Rome existed. As it passes from generation to generation, the fascinum seems to exercise a power not only over those who wear it, but over the very fate of the empire.
"Saylor...vividly describes how the family survives the volcanic destruction of Pompeii, the burning of Rome, and the persecution of Jews and Christians." (
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Epic listen, mostly really good
- Steven A. McKay
History made simple
The combination of historical fact and fictional family story make this a really easy way to brush up on Roman history.
The evocation of the fire at which Nero supposedly serenaded as the city burned. some interesting ideas about who and why the fire was started.
Found the female voices irritatingly coy and "twittery"
I found the story easy to listen to while doing other things and also easy to pick up if left for a few days.Not a listen that you needs 100% concentration.
As long as you take some of the "facts" with a pinch of salt this is a really entertaining listen. Not for scholars of Roman history perhaps but for those of us who have long since forgotten everything except the debauchery of Caligula and the vanity of Nero,it is a great reminder.