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The Grass Crown (Masters of Rome) Paperback – August 7, 2003

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Product Details

  • Series: Masters of Rome
  • Paperback: 1072 pages
  • Publisher: Arrow Books Ltd; 9th Impression edition (August 7, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099462494
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099462491
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 1.8 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (83 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,006,392 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Continuing the saga of the Roman Empire begun with The First Man in Rome , McCullough spins a stupendous tale of love, lust and murderous ambition. This title was cited in PW 's "red and black" feature as having failed significantly in hardcover to live up to publishers' sales expectations.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Kirkus Reviews

Volume two of McCullough's triumphant Roman series. The First in Rome (1990) initiated the chronicle of the edgy partnership of new-man-in-Rome Gaius Marius and aristocrat Lucius Cornelius Sulla during the German wars. Here, the calamitous last hurrah of one and the violent pinnacle acts of the other twist through years of Italian wars, expeditions into Asia Minor, domestic trials and brief happinesses, terrible cruelties, and politics, always politics, in which sectors, families, and the famous fight for power--by diplomacy, manipulation, alliances, or the simple art of murder. By now (roughly 80's and 90's B.C.) Marius is in his 60s and escaping a ``dull'' Rome to scout Asia Minor and sniff out the purposes of the barbarian king Mithridates of Pontus. The king will be faced down, and, some years later, Sulla, in a spectacular expedition over the Euphrates, will face him down again. Meanwhile, in the Senate there is a movement to enfranchise the sophisticated neighboring Italians, a movement snapped off by an assassination and a polarizing of ruling powers--and, inevitably, there's war. It is the overwhelming victory over one of the Italian tribes that brings Sulla his highest honor (the Grass Crown). Surely he is now equal to the great general Marius, now crippled by a stroke and attended by the boy Gaius Julius Caesar Junior, his wife's nephew. (Yep. The very same.) Marius intends to fulfill an old prophecy- -that he will be elected Consul for a seventh time. The inevitable conflict between Marius and Sulla explodes during an ongoing battle to dilute the power of the Senate elite. There will be a march on an unarmed Rome, screaming grabs for ascendance from an unhinged, dying Marius, and a raving Sulla, plus bloody deaths...and deaths...and deaths. Again, magnificent portraits of real beings. And, again, gamey politics, bright talk, great scenery, and gore. With glossary and maps. (Literary Guild Dual Selection for November) -- Copyright ©1991, 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

Reading Colleen McCullough is like being in the room with Marius and Sulla.
Tom Simpson
Again, just like the first one, well-researched and detailed, great narration and dialogue that brings real events and real people to life.
I first read these books about seven years ago, and then read them all over again last year when the last installment came out.
Colin P. Lindsey

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

42 of 43 people found the following review helpful By Colin P. Lindsey VINE VOICE on July 14, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This novel is a continuation of the "Rome" series of books, of which this novel is the second. The first was "the First Man in Rome". Again, and with feeling, this is the best series I have ever read in my entire life! The words compulsive and fascinating are simply too flat and characterless to do justice to this series. If I was ever stranded on a desert island with only one thing to read for the rest of my life it would be this series of novels, they are that good.

This novel continues where the first left off and covers the decline of Gaius Marius, both in power and in faculty, and the meteoric rise of Sulla to the heights of power, and the titanic struggles that these erstwhile comrades ignited in the Roman world as their relationship slowly shifted from allies to enemies as each began to seek his own self-aggrandizement at the expense of the other. This is a fabulous book, and I found Sulla every bit as interesting as I did Marius, particularly since he was a more complex person with his difficult and impoverished youth, his cunning such a youth created, his difficulty with interpersonal relationships, his homosexuality, and the way he had to absolutely sublimate all of this in his quest for power.....and yet at the end, despite his more unconventional beginnings than Marius and his personal traits and habits (despised by most Roman senators), he is the far more conservative of the pair. Marius is born of rural and conservative roots but becomes a demogogue and populist, while the homosexual party-animal Sulla evolves into a rabid conservative along the lines of a Pat Buchanan. It's a lot of fun!

One of my very real epiphanies in reading this was how similar the politics of Rome were to our politics today.
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30 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Inna Goldenberg on January 25, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
"The Grass Crown" is a wonderful novel. It describes the events after Gaius Marius' sixth consulship in 100 BC: his political eclipse and the hunt for the seventh consulship promised to him by the prophetess Martha. Standing in his way are his failing health, disturbed mental state, and, of course, Sulla. "The First Man in Rome" and "Caesar's Women" are slightly better novels that "The Grass Crown", but "The Grass Crown" is better than "Caesar".
In order to get a complete picture of what Sulla is like and how he came to be what he is, I think it is vital to read "The First Man in Rome" first. "The Grass Crown" does not have spectacular character development. For example, more needs to be said about Cornelia Scipionis and Mamercus, especially the latter because he becomes important later on. Pompey Starbo and Young Marius require more attention because they are too one-dimensional.
The most engaging story involves Marcus Livius Drusus, who had gone through a transformation in "The First Man in Rome". In "The First Man in Rome", I did not sympathize with Drusus but in "The Grass Crown" I grew to like him and care about what happens to him. Livia Drusa's story is also quite compelling, but I wish that the author would provide a better characterization for Cato Salonianus. His presence is not at all memorable and his love for Livia Drusa is hard to believe and appreciate because there seems to be no source for it.
I thoroughly enjoyed Servilia and Caepio. While in "The First Man in Rome" Caepio was pitiful; he becomes completely loathsome in "The Grass Crown".
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Robert J. Crawford on June 19, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
This sequel continues the story of Marius, one of the greatest generals that Rome had ever known, and his student and rival, Sulla. Julius Caesar is also a child prodigy in it and the familiar cast of characters from the first volume are back as well. As far as new characters go, there are the brutal "oriental" despot Mithradates, Ciciero, and the ambitious Pompey family. They are all believable and very interesting as well as embodiments of possible roman futures in a way that most history books do not explore. The characters also evolve, which adds a depth that makes it all the more believable.
It is about a very sad era in Rome, with the republican institutions in precipitous decline as powerful generals rise, whose troops are more loyal to them than to the Roman Republic. The descent into barbarism is horrific and brilliantly delineated by McCullough, who has done a superb job of historical research. Just as Marius' star is waning - and his decline from the great and far-thinking man he was makes for depressing reading - so Sulla's time has arrived.
I do not know of a better way to live in a different era than historical novels. This series is so masterly, so fascinating in detail, and so fast-moving in plot and action that it is one of the best that I have ever read. Warmly recommended.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 19, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
You'll change that opinion once you're immersed in "The Grass Crown". Better yet, start with "The First Man in Rome" in order to fully appreciate the grandure of Colleen McCullough's series. I've been reading historical novels all my life, and been disappointed by many. But for sheer quantity of details, I've never seen the like. It truly feels like Ms. McCullough was there. It reads like an eye witness account. I especially liked her description of Caesar's mother, and the world she created and inhabited. But the story deals primarily with Sulla. His progress through life reminded me of "The Picture of Dorian Gray". His deeds and misdeeds are etched on his face and body. What a warning we receive from this description of a dictator who gained power due to the apathy of his fellow citizens. They let him have too much power and died regretting it. Think about that the next time you're tempted not to vote. These are long novels, but I couldn't get enough. Some have compared this to "I, Claudius". Not a good comparison. As much as I enjoyed "The Grass Crown", it can't compare to Robert Graveses wit and lyrical style. Still, it has charms aplenty of its own. Read it, you'll be glad you did.
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