Empire : Rome

  • by Steven Saylor
  • Narrated by James Langton
  • Series: Rome
  • 23 hrs and 40 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

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.

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What the Critics Say

"Saylor...vividly describes how the family survives the volcanic destruction of Pompeii, the burning of Rome, and the persecution of Jews and Christians." (Publishers Weekly)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Epic listen, mostly really good

I've read some of Saylor's stuff in the past and enjoyed it so when I saw this very long audiobook for the princely sum of one credit I knew it would be good value.
And it is! It lasts for a long time so will keep you going until the next credit rolls in. But is it any good?
Yes, for the most part it's well written, has interesting characters and is almost a history lesson without becoming boring or dry.
It follows one family, from generation to generation, as they deal with the various emperors and great events that shaped the mighty Rome. It's all set within Rome itself and it's mainly about people and political events, so don't expect battles or heroic centurions. This is no Ben Kane or Douglas Jackson book but it works, mostly, just as well as something more action oriented as it's so interesting and so well read - the narrator really does a fine job.
The one downside for me was the fact a) everything is rather bleak and depressing, with lots of descriptions of people being tortured for fun while the people lap it up like rabid dogs and b) there's too much emphasis on the sexual appetites of everyone. It seems like everyone in Rome was either a sadist or a nymphomaniac which might be true for all I know, but it doesn't make for the most exciting book. At times I felt like it was too depressing and I just longed to listen to some throwaway, light fantasy or something fun by the likes of Terry Pratchett.
But, overall, this is a fine audiobook - great value for your credit, with a nice performance by the narrator James Langton, and, in general an interesting and nicely structured tale.
Give it a try!
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- The Wolf

History made simple

What made the experience of listening to Empire the most enjoyable?

The combination of historical fact and fictional family story make this a really easy way to brush up on Roman history.


What was one of the most memorable moments of Empire?

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.


What aspect of James Langton’s performance might you have changed?

Found the female voices irritatingly coy and "twittery"


Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

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.


Any additional comments?

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.

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- Jac

Book Details

  • Release Date: 31-08-2010
  • Publisher: Macmillan Audio