Antony and Cleopatra: A Novel

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A sweeping epic of ancient Rome from the #1 bestselling author of The Thorn Birds

In this breathtaking follow-up to The October Horse, Colleen McCullough turns her attention to the legendary romance of Antony and Cleopatra, and in this timeless tale of love, politics, and power, proves once again that she is the best historical novelist of our time.

Caesar is dead, and Rome is, again, divided. Lepidus has retreated to Africa, while Antony rules the opulent East, and Octavian claims the West, the heart of Rome, as his domain. Though this tense truce holds civil war at bay, Rome seems ripe for an emperor -- a true Julian heir to lay claim to Caesar's legacy. With the bearing of a hero, and the riches of the East at his disposal, Antony seems poised to take the prize. Like a true warrior-king, he is a seasoned general whose lust for power burns alongside a passion for women, feasts, and Chian wine. His rival, Octavian, seems a less convincing candidate: the slight, golden-haired boy is as controlled as Antony is indulgent and as cool-headed and clear-eyed as Antony is impulsive. Indeed, the two are well matched only in ambition.

And though politics and war are decidedly the provinces of men in ancient Rome, women are adept at using their wits and charms to gain influence outside their traditional sphere. Cleopatra, the ruthless, golden-eyed queen, welcomes Antony to her court and her bed but keeps her heart well guarded. A ruler first and a woman second, Cleopatra has but one desire: to place her child on his father, Julius Caesar's, vacant throne. Octavian, too, has a strong woman by his side: his exquisite wife, raven-haired Livia Drusilla, who learns to wield quiet power to help her husband in his quest for ascendancy. As the plot races toward its inevitable conclusion -- with battles on land and sea -- conspiracy and murder, love and politics become irrevocably entwined.

McCullough's knowledge of Roman history is detailed and extensive. Her masterful and meticulously researched narrative is filled with a cast of historical characters whose motives, passions, flaws, and insecurities are vividly imagined and expertly drawn. The grandeur of ancient Rome comes to life as a timeless human drama plays out against the dramatic backdrop of the Republic's final days.
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3.5
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Additional Information

Publisher
Simon and Schuster
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Published on
Dec 4, 2007
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Pages
576
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ISBN
9781416577317
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Language
English
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Genres
Fiction / General
Fiction / Historical / General
Fiction / Romance / Historical / General
History / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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In her new book about the men who were instrumental in establishing the Rome of the Emperors, Colleen McCullough tells the story of a famous love affair and a man whose sheer ability could lead to only one end -- assassination.
As The October Horse begins, Gaius Julius Caesar is at the height of his stupendous career. When he becomes embroiled in a civil war between Egypt's King Ptolemy and Queen Cleopatra, he finds himself torn between the fascinations of a remarkable woman and his duty as a Roman. Though he must leave Cleopatra, she remains a force in his life as a lover and as the mother of his only son, who can never inherit Caesar's Roman mantle, and therefore cannot solve his father's greatest dilemma -- who will be Caesar's Roman heir?
A hero to all of Rome except to those among his colleagues who see his dictatorial powers as threats to the democratic system they prize so highly, Caesar is determined not to be worshiped as a god or crowned king, but his unique situation conspires to make it seem otherwise. Swearing to bring him down, Caesar's enemies masquerade as friends and loyal supporters while they plot to destroy him. Among them are his cousin and Master of the Horse, Mark Antony, feral and avaricious, priapic and impulsive; Gaius Trebonius, the nobody, who owes him everything; Gaius Cassius, eaten by jealousy; and the two Brutuses, his cousin Decimus, and Marcus, the son of his mistress Servilia, sad victim of his mother and of his uncle Cato, whose daughter he marries. All are in Caesar's debt, all have been raised to high positions, all are outraged by Caesar's autocracy.
Caesar must die, they decide, for only when he is dead will Rome return to her old ways, her old republican self.
With her extraordinary knowledge of Roman history, Colleen McCullough brings Caesar to life as no one has ever done before and surrounds him with an enormous and vivid cast of historical characters, characters like Cleopatra who call to us from beyond the centuries, for McCullough's genius is to make them live again without losing any of the grandeur that was Rome.
Packed with battles on land and sea, with intrigue, love affairs, and murders, the novel moves with amazing speed toward the assassination itself, and then into the ever more complex and dangerous consequences of that act, in which the very fate of Rome is at stake.
The October Horse is about one of the world's pivotal eras, relating as it does events that have continued to echo even into our own times.
Rarely, if ever, does a new writer dazzle us with such a vivid imagination and storytelling, flawlessly capturing the essence of a land, a people, a legend. Conn Iggulden is just such a writer, bringing to vivid life one of the most fascinating eras in human history. In a true masterpiece of historical fiction, Iggulden takes us on a breathtaking journey through ancient Rome, sweeping us into a realm of tyrants and slaves, of dark intrigues and seething passions. What emerges is both a grand romantic tale of coming-of-age in the Roman Empire and a vibrant portrait of the early years of a man who would become the most powerful ruler on earth: Julius Caesar.

On the lush Italian peninsula, a new empire is taking shape. At its heart is the city of Rome, a place of glory and decadence, beauty and bloodshed. Against this vivid backdrop, two boys are growing to manhood, dreaming of battles, fame, and glory in service of the mightiest empire the world has ever known. One is the son of a senator, a boy of privilege and ambition to whom much has been given and from whom much is expected. The other is a bastard child, a boy of strength and cunning, whose love for his adoptive family–and his adoptive brother–will be the most powerful force in his life.

As young Gaius and Marcus are trained in the art of combat—under the tutelage of one of Rome’s most fearsome gladiators—Rome itself is being rocked by the art of treachery and ambition, caught in a tug-of-war as two rival generals, Marius and Sulla, push the empire toward civil war. For Marcus, a bloody campaign in Greece will become a young soldier’s proving ground. For Gaius, the equally deadly infighting of the Roman Senate will be the battlefield where he hones his courage and skill. And for both, the love of an extraordinary slave girl will be an honor each will covet but only one will win.

The two friends are forced to walk different paths, and by the time they meet again everything will have changed. Both will have known love, loss, and violence. And the land where they were once innocent will be thrust into the grip of bitter conflict—a conflict that will set Roman against Roman . . . and put their friendship to the ultimate test.

Brilliantly interweaving history and adventure, Conn Iggulden conjures a stunning array of contrasts–from the bloody stench of a battlefield to the opulence of the greatest city in history, from the tenderness of a lover to the treachery of an assassin. Superbly rendered, grippingly told, Emperor, The Gates of Rome is a work of vaulting imagination from a powerful new voice in historical fiction.
From the author of the bestselling The Dangerous Book for Boys
 
“Brilliant…stunning,” raved the Los Angeles Times about Conn Iggulden’s first novel, Emperor: The Gates of Rome. “Iggulden is a grand storyteller,” declared USA Today. Now Iggulden returns to the landscape of ancient Rome and the life of Julius Caesar in a new novel filled with all the sumptuous storytelling that distinguished his first book. Sweeping from the windswept, pirate-ruled seas to the stifling heat of the Roman senate, Iggulden takes us further down the path to glory as Julius Caesar comes into his own as a man, warrior, senator, husband, leader.

In a sweltering, sparsely settled region of North Africa, a band of disheveled soldiers turn their eyes toward one man among them. Ragged, dirty, and half starved, the men will follow their leader into the mad, glorious fight for honor and revenge that only he wants to fight. Their leader is named Julius Caesar. The soldiers are Roman legionaries. And their quarry is a band of pirates who made the mistake of seizing Julius Caesar—and holding him for ransom. Now, to get his revenge, Caesar will turn peasants into soldiers, building a shipborne fighting force that will not only decimate a pirate fleet but will dominate the Mediterranean, earning him the coveted title Military Tribune of Rome.

While Caesar builds a legend far from Rome, his friend Gaius Brutus is fighting battles of another sort, rising to power in the wake of the shocking assassination of a dictator. Once Brutus and Caesar were as close as brothers, both devoted to the same ideals and attracted to the same forbidden woman. Now, when Caesar returns—with the winds of glory at his back—they will find themselves at odds. For each has built an army of elite warriors—Caesar’s forged in far-flung battles, Brutus’ from Rome’ s political killing fields. But in an era when men die for their treachery and their allegiances, the two men will soon be united by a shock wave from the north. There, a gladiator named Spartacus is gathering strength, building an army of seventy thousand desperate slaves—to fight a cataclysmic battle against Rome itself.

Filled with unforgettable images—from the death throes of a king to the birth of Caesar’s child, from the bloody battlefields of Greece to the silent passion of lovers—Emperor: The Death of Kings is an astounding work, a stunning blend of vibrant history and thrilling fiction.


From the Hardcover edition.
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