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I used to think this book was greater than The First Man in Rome, but now that I ve re read it again, I have to say that it s not exactly as good as I thought it was First Man rose in my estimation on a re read, this was slightly lowered, so now I think they re pretty much even.The elements that make it great are all here, except for one I d forgotten that Publius Rutilius Rufus letters barely make an appearance and I sorely missed them Not that he dies, but he s in no position to be informing others in the farflung provinces of what s going on in Rome So that job falls to others and they simply don t have Rufus voice in their missives When there are no letter opportunities, the exposition is dumped into the narrative and it tended to get ponderous especially towards the end when Sulla and Marius are trying to checkmate each other and armies get shifted and elections are held and things move very fast At times it felt like I was reading an ancient historian rather than dramatic fiction.So that was the only problem I had with it, and the disappointment was a slight bummer.Other than that, it was the same old glorious fun Sulla was his lusciously sociopathic self, Marius descent into homicidal insanity was sad and terrifying at the same time, Mithradates of Pontus was an absurd figure as only megalomaniacal Eastern potentates can be, young Julius Caesar was an annoying precocious prat I ve never really cottoned to him , and Young Pompey was to put it simply adorbz He has always gotten my non Sullan cottoning to. Illustration McCullough There were a lot of things that had fallen down the memory hole over the past 10 years since I last read it, and so the entire book didn t feel like I was retreading old ground There s simply so much covered wars, debates, laws, assassinations, elections, negotiations, murders, exiles, taxes, trials, and slaughters that it s impossible to retain every conversation, every detail These books will never get old and never entirely familiar.The early scene between Sulla and Aurelia, however, has been burned into my memory for the past 17 years Stupid, virtuous woman I always want it to end differently, as in lots of sweaty grappling without a moment of hesitation or regret But alas.Probably my most favorite aspect of this book, as well as the entire series since it applies to nearly every character The voices and attitudes McCullough gives these long dead people never ceases to amuse me I love what she puts into their mouths, though if one has a huge bugaboo about even a whiff of anachronistic dialogue, maybe they wouldn t feel the same If someone saying, Don t worry, I wouldn t miss that fiasco for anything has your hand clutching at the pearls, then remind yourself that if it was linguistically accurate, you d be reading it in Latin P In my world, Quintus Sertorius can use whatever the hell mid 19th century theatrical vocabulary he wants because ONE EYED BADASS.The joyride of murder, intrigue, and politics by Hot Dead Language Guys will continue in Fortune s Favorites It s Golden God Pompey s turn to shine Wheeee D [[ READ PDF ]] ⇻ The Grass Crown ⇝ In This Great Drama, Marius, The General Who Saved Rome From Barbarian Invasion And Became Consul An Unprecedented Six Times, Has Fallen Into Decline Sulla, His Closest Associate, Has Withdrawn Himself From His Commander S Circle In Preparation For His Own Bid For Power As A Deadly Enmity Develops Between The Two Men, Rome Must Fight Its Own Battle For Survival First Against Her Neighbouring Italian States, Then Against The Barbaric Asian Conqueror Births, Deaths, Prophecies And Rivalries Combine To Create A Whirlwind Of Drama, And A Remarkable Insight Into The Passion And Torment Of Ancient Rome Edit 9 12 14 I m kind of doing a quick run through of this again before tackling Fortune s Favorites to refresh myself on the billion people, places and events and I have to admit I was probably being a bad moody, picky little bitch when I gave this four stars originally Shameful It certainly deserves five stars When you have a book that veers from vicious, sprawling oratorial battles in the Senate to profound psychological portraits of truly legendary people to scenes like the one in which Mithridates beshits himself on his royal barge because one of his other boats bumped into it you have something special I m just sad this series has to eventually end when the Republic dies and it doesn t continue on with the Emperors.Original Review McCullough s utterly fucking magisterial series continues with this moody entry Sulla continues his amoral, body piling struggle up the cursus honorum, Marius struggles to remain in power to fulfill the prophecy of his seventh consuslship while also battling with his own sanity, Marcus Livius Drusus launches his plan of seriously controversial and potentially dangerous reform in the aim of repairing relations between Rome and the Italian Allies, and little Caesar continues to be creepily precocious or precociously creepy, I still can t decide Also, Aurelia stays firmly in her Aurelia mold, which isindescribable In the far east, King Mithridates VI of Pontus is about to start some serious shit Obviously the history and people here are eternally fascinating, and McCullough has the brains, prose and research to render the definitive fictional account of the most fascinating and tumultuous period of this legendary city s existence Wow, I got worked up pretty quick there didn t I It s this old Australian lady, manor it could be that I m listening to Prince s Do Me Baby as I write this The man messes with brain chemicals, and no question.These books are a serious literary feast They re stuffed with justeverything Politics, war, architecture, tradition, sex, complex interpersonal relationships and dramatic events great and small are on every page No one could question McCullough s research and you re gonna learn every possible thing about this era of Rome that you can imagine and a ton you can t The political system of Republican Rome was seriously complex and this woman has allowed even a clueless pleb such as myself an understanding of how it worked I probably mentioned this in my review of the first book, but her liberal use of maps, diagrams and portraits all created by the author herself will also help your understanding and mental recreation of this fascinating, dead world I do have to say her portraits can be a bit hinky looking excepting the obviously author revered Sulla I looked ahead at the portrait of Vercingetorix from Caesar and almost fucking threw up In that particular instance, hewing so closely to the historical portrait from a coin was probably not a good idea This is of course from another book though, and the worst offenses such as Mithridates are excusable The author is obviously gifted and clearly loves her chosen subject, and it shows even in these amateur portraits.The characters are vividly drawn and even complex Even when I find them repulsive, the Romans are constantly entertaining to read about Constantly conquering shit, scheming and gossiping and stealing, murdering each otherit s clear why the Roman world has so fascinated us and been so prevalent in our fiction That said, you probably aren t gonna get very close emotionally with these people as you may have in other historical novels Take Sulla, for instance He s a joy to read, and my love for the underdog certainly wants to see him succeed despite all the snobbish two faced haters in the Senate, but the dude is honestly fucking abhorrent He s clearly a sociopath and remorseless murderer, as well as a pretty heavy misogynist despite being loved by women, and I m confident in including the author as one of these women It s a mixed experience and often an uncomfortable one, but one gets the sense that this is really how it was in this world None of these traits were necessarily even considered particularly reprehensible So morbidly gripping.I do have a couple of relatively minor complaints the dialogue can be a bit stiff and exposition heavy Also, McCullough clearly doesn t have much of an interest in Roman military matters the marches and battles of the constant warring are certainly referenced and depicted, but too often it s in the form of secondhand relation or a quick glossing over I am an unrepentant nerd when it comes to ancient military and these episodes could certainly have been depicted with detail and depth I get that not everyone is interested in these things but there is absolutely no way to get around the fact that Rome s military and its wars were an absolutely crucial factor in its rise to such heights of power In a book where a gossipy letter can take up five to six pages we should not be blasting through fucking MAJOR BATTLES in a couple sentences It s just not good enough to say and then Marius and his army ran really quick up the Via Appia and slaughtered the shit out of the Samnites and everyone was stoked When I look at the whole of this epic story, though, these complaints can seem kind of nitpicky, though If the rest of the series continues with this kind of epic quality I really don t see the reason for me to read another fictional account of the era Which is closeminded and dumb, but this lady is good. The first 200 pages of this is so boooring, then it picks up and becomes a very good book with intermittent boring parts The story of the rivalry between Sulla Gaius Marius is exciting and leads to horrendous acts of cruelty McCullough is a very good writer Another problem is the plethora of Roman names with a cast of thousands that makes it very difficult to keep track of the characters Recommended to history buffs. Ok, I can admit it I m an ancient Rome junkie, and Colleen McCullough is my dealer Nobody not even the venerable Robert Graves, or Marguerite Yourcenar, can write a crackling, entertaining AND factually nails on story of Ancient Roman politics, history and characters like McCullough Thanks to her books I can describe the difference between a praetor and a consul, and understand that great Roman leaders didn t just start with Julius Caesar This book mostly covers the period of the dictator Sulla s rise to fame, the twilight of the great Gaius Marius, and the early childhood and adolescence of both Julius Caesar and Pompey Magnus. 4.5 stars exhales slowly wow The last 300 pages were the very definition of intense The Grass Crown picks up basically where The First Man in Rome left off, and covers the period up to the point of Marius seventh and final consulship view spoiler and, also, his death a few days into this consulship hide spoiler This is the second book in McCullough s series of books on the fall of the Roman Republic and rise of the empire under the Caesars In terms of style and substance, it s similar to The First Man in Rome, dealing with the same characters and themes, albeit later in their lives.Where as Marius was the primary character and Sulla was secondary in the first book of the series, the two trade places here Marius is older and will soon be sidelined by a younger generation and a stroke Moreover, his unprecedented series of consulships has earned him nothing but enemies among the upper crust of Roman society While he has built his reputation by earning the love of the people, Marius world is the world of the senatorial class, and they fear him and the mob that loves him.Sulla, who despises the masses that he lived among for so long, is driven to distraction by their preoccupation with Marius Oddly enough, he is also jealous of the negative attention that Marius draws from the senatorial class Although a master of manipulation and deceit, it becomes painfully clear that Sulla does not feel insecure because he fears losing power he has been driven to attain power in a futile attempt to quell his feelings of insecurity Sulla is a real mess, and no amount of power or dignitas seems to help In fact, the he attains, the transparent he becomes.I don t care much for pop psychology, but I think that McCullough s Sulla is essentially a gay man who really just wants to shack up with his on again off again Greek lover, Metrobius, but is too hounded by society s expectations of the nobility to do so The sad thing is that Sulla, at least in McCullough s imagination, is a creature of his own making when he was poor and able to love Metrobius openly no one suspected he was of noble blood when he murdered his patrons and used their wealth to claim his birthright, the senatorial class hardly believed he was anything but a new man.Then you have Marius, a man who degenerates politically, physically, and spiritually over the course of the novel Apart from trying to shore up his legacy, Marius just doesn t do much in this book except try to stick it to his prepubescent nephew, Julius Caesar yes, that Julius Caesar who was prophesied at birth to be known to history as The First Man in Rome, a title that Marius spent the whole previous book earning.The corruption and degradation of the two main characters over the course of this book, while probably accurate, were a real downer McCullough, who controlled their inner dialog, gave them absolutely no sympathetic or otherwise redeeming qualities Coupled with a lack luster villain, the pants crapping King of Pontus, The Grass Crown succeeds as a window on the ancient world for contemporary readers, but robs fans of the first book of their emotional investment in the main protagonists.Yes, Marius and Sulla were ruthless, conniving assholes in the first book, but they were ruthless, conniving assholes in a world of ruthless, conniving assholes it was kill or be killed In The Grass Crown they re just as ruthless and conniving, but in a sad, petty sort of way that has everything to do with their personal shortcomings, and little or nothing to do with the machinations of those around them The Grass Crown gets three stars. I am, quite frankly, in awe of the amount of research and detail that went into this book This is how historical fiction should be respecting the uniqueness of cultures far removed from ours, but unflinching in the face of the alienness and brutality that were inherent to these periods unlike the pretty costume fests that historical fiction is usually Quite frankly, after studying Greek and Roman history for a semester I vowed I d never spent a single minute on it again less due to the subject itself and thanks to inept and unfriendly teachers , but I devoured and loved every single word in this book I do wish McCullough had spent time discussing what a monumental turn in history Sulla s decision to lead his army on Rome was she did, of course, but the last 300 pages of the book felt rushed to me I d have liked to see of Marius decent into madness instead reading about characters telling other characters about this madness, but these are minor nitpicks in light of this fantastic series of books. Wow, 800 pages and where did it go Ms McCullough does an outstanding job of bringing Republic Rome to life Excellent character development, fast moving, hooking plot and all based on true events and historic reasearch.This second book in the series covers Lucius Cornelius Sulla s rise to being First Man, and then things go nuts Blood, blood and blood.McCullough creates vivid, believable and lovable characters, and avoids getting bogged down in historical detail showing off , but works in an appropriate level of detail to enrich the story without losing the strong narrative line.Unfortunately, the parallels with modern American politics are scary and sad the usual quote forget doomed repeat it.Top notch Historical Fiction. A mixed bag Flashes of genius interspersed with long stretches of tedium and density Rise of Sulla and Fall of Gaius Marius List of characters woefully incomplete Line drawings good but maps and diagrams poor I do not understand reasoning for all the very positive reviews 2.5 5.