Empire: The Novel of Imperial Rome (英語) ペーパーバック – 2011/8/30
Kindle 端末は必要ありません。無料 Kindle アプリのいずれかをダウンロードすると、スマートフォン、タブレットPCで Kindle 本をお読みいただけます。
"May Steven Saylor's Roman empire never fall. A modern master of historical fiction, Saylor convincingly transports us into the ancient world...enthralling!" USA Today on Roma
Continuing the saga begun in his New York Times bestselling novel Roma, Steven Saylor charts the destinies of the aristocratic Pinarius family, from the reign of Augustus to height of Rome's empire. The Pinarii, generation after generation, are witness to greatest empire in the ancient world and of the emperors that ruled itfrom the machinations of Tiberius and the madness of Caligula, to the decadence of Nero and the golden age of Trajan and Hadrian and more.
Empire is filled with the dramatic, defining moments of the age, including the Great Fire, the 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.
Steven Saylor once again brings the ancient world to vivid life in a novel that tells the story of a city and a people that has endured in the world's imagination like no other.
"The Pinarii characters afford an excellent lens through which to view both imperial and daily life, and the great events of the span from 14 CE through 141 CE, including the Great Fire, the persecutions of Christians, numerous military campaigns, and, of course, insanity and perversion among the emperors. Saylor is an excellent guide through this fascinating underworld. Superb historical fiction." --Booklist (starred review)
"Saylor's encyclopedic knowledge and sense of detail are on ample display, as is his impressive ability to weave centuries of history into an entertaining narrative...[a] magnificent feat of storytelling." --Historical Fiction Review
"May one day be seen as his magnum opus. It is certainly the most ambitious of his novels thus far, and the grandest in its sweeping scope and attention to detail...full of power and pathos." --Ben Witherington, The Bible and Culture
"I rate a book by whether I simply read it or devour it. This I devoured." --Rob Cain, Ancient Rome Refocused
"Meticulous research and brilliant storytelling... What impressed me most was the novel's powerful emotional impact: the pain of unrequited love, hopes disappointed or friendship betrayed as well as the joy of a love returned, spiritual enlightenment or simply being alive. This is a great book by a great writer." --newbooks magazine
"Love stories, including forbidden ones, intrigue, action in the Arena, thrilling escapes, tons of 'it can't be true but actually it was' anecdotes...as well as many superb characters--you will find all in these almost 600 pages. With extraordinary detail and world building, Empire is a clear work of love for the author and the single best novel he has written." --Fantasy Book Critic
"Historical events provide plenty of depraved details and comparisons that beg to be drawn to today; lions and gladiators in the arena, volcanic eruptions, live burials, and master illusionists abound to fire up any number of dinner conversations....Recommended for anyone who enjoys Roman history." --Library Journal
"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
"Filled with tales of intrigue, ambition, violence, and suspense...a vivid evocation of the bloodthirsty, chaotic spectacle that was ancient Rome, and an example of how the best historical fiction brings the past to life." --Archaeology Magazine商品の説明をすべて表示する
I did look forward to continuing with "Empire," but did not enjoy it as much as other Saylor tomes. Why? Well, for one reason, the text is dense. Just riffle the pages and note how little white space there is. The book does contain a significant amount of conversation, but it tends to be in the lecture style, i.e., one character explaining something about Rome, the emperor, or the background, and the explanation goes on at great length. This is Saylor's way of giving us a very long history lesson (nearly 600 pages) while trying to enliven the text by throwing in fictional characters from succeeding generations of the Pinarii clan. Although there are frequent references to the Emperor Augustus, the period covered is actually from 14 AD to 141 AD, mainly the reigns of Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, Nero, Domitian, Trajan, and Hadrian.
Despite my bad habit of plodding through every word, line, and paragraph in any text - a habit left over from the Dark Ages when I was in graduate school - I found I was breaking out of that mold with "Empire," skipping sentences and even paragraphs when the explanations got too lengthy. I'm certainly not a Classical scholar and fortunately will never have to take a test about the major figures of the Roman Empire, but Saylor does show us nuances in the ruling styles of various emperors. He also gives a shocking picture of the excesses of the ruling classes and the plight of the average woman/man at that time. Each of the four parts of the book revolves around a figure from the Pinarii clan, but even so, I thought the character development - and interaction of the major characters with those around them - was not as satisfying as similar treatments in the Gordianus books. In other words, in this volume, Roman political/military/economic history trumps social developments, which is probably okay if the author is trying to keep down the page count, but I missed the social aspect.
In any case, I'm giving 4 stars to the history presentation, and 3-1/2 stars to character development.
Yes, there is the usual cast of very weird players from the infamous Nero to Domitian to Trajan to the famous Hadrian. Yes, there were also all of the famous and calamitous events from the great fire that destroyed so much of Rome in A.D. 64 (Nero's fiddle-playing) to the volcanic eruption of Vesuvius to the building of the Coliseum. There is (too) much emphasis on inhuman practices, the homosexual underground, and the conniving and machinations of these borderline psychotic rulers. It reads like a soap opera, which it probably was in real life. But, salaciousness goes only so far. I want depth of character also. I want some intellectual challenge. Mere reporting on the miniscule advances in civil and human rights is not sufficient.
Saylor traces these monumentally interesting 114 years by way of the literary technique of following one family - the patrician Pinarii. They are traced from generation to generation through the passing on of the family trinket (fascinum), a phallus-shaped amulet worn around the neck like a necklace. A son, reaching manhood, is bestowed by his father with this trinket. It symbolizes the passing of generations. It's an old technique, and in this instance the technique wears a bit thin.
The main problem I had with "Empire" was staying interested in the novel aspect of the story. It's a stirring history lesson. But, it is much less a novel that moves the reader systematically from page 1 to the end. Just when I got interested in a character or era, we jump to a later period, 2 years or 20 years later and dramatically change characters and situation. I found this disconcerting, and I didn't like the style. Is this really a novel, where one becomes embedded in the lives of the major characters, or is this a history lesson made readable by the use of clever emphasis on all the strange people by glimpses into their weirdness and problems? I contrast this book's ability to keep me interested in the people with Ken Follett's new book, "Fall of Giants," which starts out like a house on fire and continues that way throughout. Saylor fails to match Follett here, though both rely heavily on sex to keep reader interest.
I found Saylor's own voice in much (too much?) of the philosophical and political discussion, particularly via the person of Marcus Pinari and later to a lesser degree Lucius Pinari. While I trust in Saylor's being a true scholar of Roman history enough to believe that he was reporting on the actual historical writings of the people of the time, I hear the personal voice of Saylor loud and clear throughout, almost independent of his sources.
The life spans chart at the beginning of the book is simply incomprehensible. I referred to it 50 or 60 times during my reading of the story, and each time I was frustrated by its structure. It never made sense to me. The maps are better, but I hardly ever referred to them.
I have read every word published by Saylor. He is much, much better in his Roma Sub Rosa mystery series, featuring the Roman detective, Gordianus the Finder. Except for the excellent history lesson in "Empire," I was disappointed in its attempt at being a novel. It reminded me a little bit of Arturo Perez-Reverte's recent work "Pirates of the Levant," in that the only thing holding the "plot" together was the history it reported, thus casting doubt on whether or not it satisfied the criteria of what constitutes a novel. However, "Empire" is worth reading -- definitely. As a history lesson it is a 5+. As a novel it's a 2+. Thus, on average, I give it an overall rating of 3+.
The novel centers on the Pinarii, beginning with Lucius Pinarius and ending with the life of his great-grandson, Marcus. Actually, Marcus's son, Lucius, is introduced as a friend of the young Marcus Aurelius, setting the stage for a follow-up work. The Pinarii in the book become close friends and associates of the emperors. They were men that the emperors trusted and depended on for advice. The Pinarii managed to survive amidst emperors who were notorious for their bizarre behavior and brutal elimination of anyone who seemed to pose any kind of a threat.
The book is extremely well written. There are many fascinating stories about the emperors, their families, and the many sycophants who surrounded them. Saylor is careful to explain things. He does not try to impress (depress) the reader with arcane bits of erudition. He has a good grasp of what the typical reader knows and what the typical reader needs to have explained.
I may have enjoyed this book more than some because I have an interest in this period of ancient history and am trying to learn more. Saylor knows his history and develops a sound survey of the era.