Summary and book reviews of The Confessions of Young Nero by Margaret George

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
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  • First Published:
    Mar 2017, 528 pages
    Paperback:
    Mar 2018, 544 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Kim Kovacs

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Book Summary

The New York Times bestselling and legendary author of Helen of Troy and Elizabeth I now turns her gaze on Emperor Nero, one of the most notorious and misunderstood figures in history.

Built on the backs of those who fell before it, Julius Caesar's imperial dynasty is only as strong as the next person who seeks to control it. In the Roman Empire no one is safe from the sting of betrayal: man, woman—or child.

As a boy, Nero's royal heritage becomes a threat to his very life, first when the mad emperor Caligula tries to drown him, then when his great aunt attempts to secure her own son's inheritance. Faced with shocking acts of treachery, young Nero is dealt a harsh lesson: it is better to be cruel than dead.

While Nero idealizes the artistic and athletic principles of Greece, his very survival rests on his ability to navigate the sea of vipers that is Rome. The most lethal of all is his own mother, a cold-blooded woman whose singular goal is to control the empire. With cunning and poison, the obstacles fall one by one. But as Agrippina's machinations earn her son a title he is both tempted and terrified to assume, Nero's determination to escape her thrall will shape him into the man he was fated to become—an Emperor who became legendary.

With impeccable research and captivating prose, The Confessions of Young Nero is the story of a boy's ruthless ascension to the throne. Detailing his journey from innocent youth to infamous ruler, it is an epic tale of the lengths to which man will go in the ultimate quest for power and survival.

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 ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
Augustus, a canny politician and great statesman, was unable to solve the basic dilemma of disguising the empire as a republic. It was part of Roman civic pride that they had banished kings — Julius Caesar was assassinated for behaving like a king — but in truth the Republic was not structured to govern what was now an empire.

So the fiction had to be maintained that the emperor was really just the first citizen. That meant the Romans could not openly have a dynasty and there was no clear line of succession — hence every man for himself in securing the throne. In an atmosphere like that, there were no holds barred in battling for supremacy. So ruthless was this process that by the time of Nero's death, there were no ...
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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

George, who has delivered similar treatment of other historical figures (Henry VIII, Cleopatra), doesn't exactly redeem her subject—Nero still commits many of the horrible acts he's rumored to have perpetrated— but she does put a human face on him. Eventually he comes across as the ultimate unreliable narrator—someone who is guilty of horrific deeds but who can completely justify his actions, and through his narration, elicits his readers' sympathy.   (Reviewed by Kim Kovacs).

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Media Reviews

Library Journal
Historical fiction devotees and anyone who enjoys the entertainment of a grandly dysfunctional family will quickly devour this first volume of a duology and eagerly await its sequel.

Author Blurb Steven Saylor, author of Roma: The Novel of Ancient Rome
Margaret George has performed about the most audacious act imaginable for a historical novelist—an epic work of fiction not merely sympathetic to Nero, but told largely in his own voice. I applaud. And so, I imagine, does that connoisseur of the arts Nero, watching from Elysium.

Author Blurb Sharon Kay Penman, author of A King's Ransom
[George] brilliantly recreates past eras and bygone civilizations.

Author Blurb "A wonderful novel, from the riveting first scene to the breathtaking finale." - Jennifer Chiaverini, New York Times bestselling author of Fates and Traitors and Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker
A wonderful novel, from the riveting first scene to the breathtaking finale.

Author Blurb Stephanie Dray, New York Times bestselling author of Lily of the Nile
Wow! Margaret George—the reigning queen of historical fiction—is back with this epic saga that vividly re-imagines the life of young Nero in all its operatic, dramatic glory.

Author Blurb Barbara Taylor Bradford, author of The Cavendon Luck and A Woman Of Substance
Margaret George has an incredible talent in that she can stand in the shoes of her protagonist and speak in his or her voice.

Reader Reviews

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Beyond the Book

Music During Nero's Time

The appreciation of music seemed to be one of Emperor Nero's favorite pastimes. He not only organized musical competitions, but played several instruments himself.

Apollo kitharoidos (holding a kithara) Brass instruments such as the tuba (a long, straight trumpet-like device) and the cornu (the precursor of the French horn) were mostly used by the military of the day while high society usually preferred stringed instruments. The lute was the simplest of these, generally having only three strings and considered a folk instrument. The lyre was more widely used; it was essentially an early harp made of wood or tortoiseshell that was cradled in one arm and plucked with the other hand. The pre-eminent instrument (and the one favored by Emperor Nero) was the cithara (or kithara)....

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