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Fortune's Favorites Paperback – November 11, 2008


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 1136 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Reprint edition (November 11, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061582409
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061582400
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.3 x 2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #193,840 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

The third installment in McCullough's magnum opus (after The First Man in Rome , LJ 9/15/90, and The Grass Crown , Morrow, 1991) continues her chronicle of the decline of the Roman Republic and the impending rise of the Roman Empire. The novel's events are dominated by Sulla's return from exile and subsequent installation as Rome's first dictator in almost 200 years; Pompey the Great's machinations as the wealthy provincial, which clears his own path upward through Roman politics; and the maturing of Gaius Julius Caesar, who will ultimately set Rome upon it's imperial course. These three are "Fortune's favorites." Painstakingly researched, McCullough's Roman saga is like a trip through time. Her characters come to life as do their surroundings. While giving us rollicking good fiction, McCullough has also made clear the bribery and chicanery that made up Roman politics. She has given us clear insight into how Rome found itself changing from a republic to an empire. Highly recommended.
- Steven Sussman, "Library Journal"
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Kirkus Reviews

In her third majestic tale of Rome (83-69 B.C.), McCullough spotlights three mighty beings and the frictive sparks from their occasional interactions: Sulla, Dictator of Rome, whose early career was chronicled in The First Man in Rome (1990) and The Grass Crown (1991); the military juggernaut Pompey; and the great Julius Caesar, ``the greatest prime mover of them all.'' Again, McCullough brings order to the mighty tangle of battles and political strategies of ancient heavyweights--in the Forum Romanum or in the tents of war. Sulla, his early beauty gone, scabrous, toothless, and given to bouts with the wineskin, takes over Rome as Dictator, issues a blizzard of new laws returning rule to the patricians (landed aristocrats), and banishes all masks and effigies of his old partner and foe, the late Gaius Marius (The First Man in Rome). Sulla will tolerate the contributions of Pompey, who insists on being called ``Magnus'' and has a child's temperament (``He could never be a danger to the Republic,'' says Caesar). Among those opposing Sulla is Young Marius (son of Gaius Marius), whose head will join others of Sulla's enemies on poles by the Senate. Working for ``order and method,'' Sulla labors for Rome and thereby his ``dignitas'' (``his personal impressiveness''--the only triumph over death). His job done, Sulla makes a shocking exit and has a last laugh. Meanwhile, Julius Caesar, finally relieved of a hated role as priest, embarks on a series of extraordinary military and diplomatic coups, but quietly, correct in hierarchical obligations, stunning in charm, intelligence and beauty--and patient. Like other authors of popular Roman historical fiction, McCullough must reconcile those civil, gossipy, sophisticated makers and doers with acts of bizarre cruelty (the Spartacus slave revolt featured over 6,000 crucifixions along a major highway). But the author's fidelity to sources, her witty glossary, and strong narration offer some firm ground and exciting speculation. (Maps and illustrations) (Literary Guild Dual Selection for January; First printing of 100,000) -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Colleen McCullough was born in Australia. A neuropathologist, she established the department of neurophysiology at the Royal North Shore Hospital in Sydney before working as a researcher and teacher at Yale Medical School for ten years. Her writing career began with the publication of Tim, followed by The Thorn Birds, a record-breaking international bestseller. She lives on Norfolk Island in the South Pacific with her husband, Ric Robinson.

Customer Reviews

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In this section Julius Caesar, Pompey the Great and Cicero begin their roles in Roman history.
John Rice
I have now read all five books in the Masters of Rome series, and this is the first time I gave one of the wonderful books in this series four stars.
Inna Goldenberg
This book is a great read, the often dry historical details are presented in a very readable format and enjoyable manner.
lady_bunkford@hotmail.com

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

38 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Inna Goldenberg on February 1, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I have now read all five books in the Masters of Rome series, and this is the first time I gave one of the wonderful books in this series four stars. Although this book is pretty good, it is worse than the other four: "First Man in Rome", "The Grass Crown", "Caesar's Women", and "Caesar".
The main reason for this book falling short of the others is that it does not have a central character or characters. The characters in the forefront in this period are Sulla, Pompey the Great, Lucullus, Crassus, Sertorius, and Spartacus. Caesar, no matter how much the author wants to focus on him, does not have much to do. Instead of trying to tie him into the experiences of others, it would have been better to focus on Pompey and Crassus, for example, with Caesar lurking in the background. I think the greatest problem for the author is how to deal with the book after Sulla's death. "The Grass Crown", ended with Marius' death with stage now set for Sulla to take over. It was an appropriate ending but when Sulla retires and then dies in "Fortune's Favorites", the thread of the story begun in "The First Man in Rome" ends. So, McCullough came up with the theme of "fortune's favorites", which works OK but not well enough. Since she has to continue with the story after Sulla's death, a hodge-podge of characters and events abound. Caesar's exploits are interesting but they take attention away from the people who were actually doing something. As I said before, I feel that Pompey should have been in the center of the novel, with both Lucullus and Crassus vying with him to be the First Man in Rome.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By tertius3 on February 23, 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
For the first time in this series we experience the charm and brilliance of its real subject, Caesar, close up and personal. As McCullough mentions, she has far more historical sources to work with now, and indeed the two new heroes were master propagandists. I enjoyed this book more than the first two. McCullough goes far toward weaving a totally convincing sense of patrician majesty and paternal authority in fortune-favored Roman lives like Caesar or Pompey the self-styled Great.
This is a transitional novel, covering the end of the Marius-Sulla conflict and the first stirrings of the rivalry between Pompey and Caesar. The "problem" with such books is aggravated because McCullough is hewing so close to history rather than inventing characters and episodes that will lead to some great climax after 900 pages. While McCullough's prose is skillful it does not soar, and the reader does need to work hard to keep track of the parallel stories taking place on a jiggered timeline in Italy, Spain, or Anatolia.
This volume begins with a 21 pp synopsis of the preceding two books, vital to understanding the long list of characters who pop in and out (many of whom bear very similar names due to Roman naming customs; geneological charts might have been a useful addition to keep them straight). McCullough's steadfast focus is elite politics and strategy: no vignettes of life in the legions, among the urban plebs, or on Latin farms. On the other hand, her 80 pp Glossary is a frank mine of information entertainingly supplied that supplements her earlier glossaries. Drawings of the main characters enliven the text. Have a magnifying glass handy if you read the paperback, for the many maps are microscopic.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Maximiliano F Yofre on October 26, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Ms McCullough has done a profound historical research in order to write her "Roman Saga" started with "The First Man in Rome" (1990), continued with "The Grass Crown" (1991) and "Fortune's Favorites" (1993).

She delivers an accurate picture of the late Roman Republic, bringing to life historically characters with amazing detail.

The author follows and reveals step by step all the intricacies of that rich and complex era.

Does this mean that the book is boring? By no means, Ms McCullough is able to show daily life, dressing, feeding, religious rituals, political and social structures in a magnificent fresco and at the same time construct an engaging story that will trap the reader for hours, even when this is the weakest of the three volumes.

The story starts in the year 83 BC after Marius' death, with an aged and ailing Sulla back in Italy, defeating methodologically Marius' heirs in his way to Rome.

Three new characters fully emerge in this volume: Pompeius Magnus, Julius Caesar and Marcus Crassus. This trio will rock the Republic in the nearing years, but at this stage they are just beginning their unstoppable rise.

One of the wonderful traits of Ms McCullough is that she extrapolates and gives wonderful explanations to odd issues as why Spartacus and his throng of followers traverse almost all the Italic Peninsula and then suddenly turn back.

She also proposes an earlier relationship between Crassus and Caesar and this last character acquiring a fundamental status as diplomatic mediator in Crassus-Pompeius association.

Last but not least the author has drawn beautiful busts of the main characters; detailed maps of different ancient scenarios where action takes place and very complete glossary.
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