Join BookBrowse today and get access to free books, our twice monthly digital magazine, and more.

Excerpt from The Confessions of Young Nero by Margaret George, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Confessions of Young Nero

by Margaret George

The Confessions of Young Nero by Margaret George X
The Confessions of Young Nero by Margaret George
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Mar 2017, 528 pages

    Paperback:
    Mar 2018, 544 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Kim Kovacs
Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

LOCUSTA
Chapter I

This is not the first time I have been imprisoned. So I am hopeful that this is a sham and that the new emperor Galba will soon need my unique services and quietly send for me and once again I shall be treading in the palace halls. I feel at home there and why shouldn't I? I have provided my timely services for those in power for many years.

By trade I am a poisoner. There, why not say it? And not any old poisoner, but the acknowledged expert and leader in my profession. So many others want to be another Locusta, another me. So I founded an academy to pass on my knowledge and train the next generation, for Rome will always be in need of poisoners. I should lament that, should say what a pity that Rome must descend to that, but that would be hypocritical of me. Besides, I am not convinced that poison is not the best way to die. Think of all the other ways Rome kills people: being torn by beasts in the arena, being strangled in the Tullianum prison, and most insipid of all, being ordered to open your veins and bleed yourself to death, like a sacrificial animal. Bah. Give me a good poison anytime. Did not Cleopatra embrace the asp and its poison, leaving her beautiful and stretched out upon her couch?

I first met the late emperor Nero when he was still a child, still Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus, the name he was born with. I saw him at the low point in his life, when he was an abandoned child at the mercy of his uncle Caligula. (Now that was someone who gave me a lively string of business!) His father was dead, his mother Agrippina had been banished when he was not even three years old, and his uncle liked to toy with him.

I remember he was a likeable child---well, he remained likeable all his life, it was a gift---but timorous. Many things frightened him, especially loud noises and being sent for unexpectedly. Caligula had a habit of that---sending for people in the middle of the night. He once forced me to watch a nocturnal theatrical performance in the palace, featuring himself as Jupiter. Sometimes it was harmless, like the play-acting, other times it ended with the death of the helpless person he had sent for. So, Nero---let us call him that to avoid confusion, just as I call Caligula Caligula rather than Gaius Caesar Germanicus---was precocious in recognizing the danger of the serpent in his uncle.

Ah, such memories! Here in my cell I find myself returning to them, helping the hours to pass, until that moment when Galba sends for me with a task. I know he will!



NERO
Chapter II

The moon was round and full. It shone on the flat surface of the lake, which was also round, making it appear that the moon itself had expanded and enlarged itself there. It rose golden from the encircling hills but soon was a bright white ball high above.

It illuminated the wide deck of the ship. I was to sit beside my uncle and listen to him intoning praise to the goddess Diana, whose sanctuary was on the shore of the lake and to whom the lake itself was sacred.

I remember the flame of the torches that threw a flickering red light on the faces around me, in contrast to the clear bluish-white moonlight bathing the wider scene. My uncle's face looked not like a human's but like a demon's, with a burning hue.

These are all impressions, memories that swirl without being attached to anything. The reflection on the water---the torches---the thin reedy voice of my uncle---the nervous laughter around me---the chill in the air---

I was only three years old, so it is no wonder my memories are disconnected.

Then his face shoved up into mine, and a silky voice saying, "What shall I do with the bitch's whelp?"

More nervous laughter. His rough hands grab my shoulder and haul me up, my legs dangling helplessly.

"I shall sacrifice him to the goddess!" He strides over to the rail and holds me over the rippling water. I can still see the undulation of the reflected moonlight, waiting for me. "She wants a human sacrifice, and what more worthy than this kin of mine, descendent of the divine Augustus? Only the best for Diana, and perhaps a propitiation for the lapse of Augustus, who preferred to worship her brother Apollo? There you go!"

  • 1
  • 2

Excerpted from The Confessions of Young Nero by Margaret George. Copyright © 2017 by Margaret George. Excerpted by permission of Berkley Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book:
  Music During Nero's Time

Support BookBrowse

Join our inner reading circle, go ad-free and get way more!

Find out more


Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: Long After We Are Gone
    Long After We Are Gone
    by Terah Shelton Harris
    Terah Shelton Harris's marvelous family drama Long After We Are Gone begins with the death of the ...
  • Book Jacket: Exhibit
    Exhibit
    by R O. Kwon
    Exhibit, R.O. Kwon's sophomore novel (after The Incendiaries, 2018), introduces readers to Jin Han, ...
  • Book Jacket: Somehow
    Somehow
    by Anne Lamott
    Anne Lamott knows a thing or two about love. In fact, there is so much of it exuding from her essay ...
  • Book Jacket
    The Wings Upon Her Back
    by Samantha Mills
    Faith is a delicate thing. At its best, it can offer peace in times of crisis. At its worst, it can ...

BookBrowse Book Club

Book Jacket
Long After We Are Gone
by Terah Shelton Harris
After their father's death, four siblings rally to save their family home in this gripping and hopeful tale.
Book Jacket
The Pecan Children
by Quinn Connor
Two sisters deeply tied to their small Southern town fight to break free of the darkness swallowing the land whole.
Win This Book
Win Bright and Tender Dark

Bright and Tender Dark by Joanna Pearson

A beautifully written, wire-taut debut novel about a murder on a college campus and its aftermath twenty years later.

Enter

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

A W in S C

and be entered to win..

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.