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Fortune's Favorites (Masters of Rome) Mass Market Paperback – November 11, 2008
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About the Author
Colleen McCullough is the author of The Thorn Birds, Tim, An Indecent Obsession, A Creed for the Third Millennium, The Ladies of Missalonghi, The First Man in Rome, The Grass Crown, Fortune's Favorites, Caesar's Women, Caesar, and other novels. She lives with her husband on Norfolk Island in the South Pacific.
From Kirkus Reviews
Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
My husband is exploring this period, and wanted several fiction and non-fiction books. McCullough's books were on hist list, and he has enjoyed them all.Published 12 days ago by BKW
This third volume in McCullough's seven-book series marks the end of the best part of the series. McCullough's books are strongest when covering the pre-Julius Caesar period of... Read morePublished 7 months ago by Peter J. Orvetti
This is one of my favorite book series. Incredibly thorough research and really brings ancient Rome to life. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Thinking