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Not so much a blog; just lots of books

Currently reading

A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century
Barbara W. Tuchman, Nadia May
Progress: 696/1718minutes
Conservation of Shadows
Yoon Ha Lee
Progress: 22%
Le premier jour
Marc Levy
Progress: 180/496pages
Moby-Dick: or, The Whale (Penguin Classics)
Herman Melville
Manifold: Time
Stephen Baxter, Chris Schluep
Progress: 99/480pages
The Long War
Stephen Baxter, Terry Pratchett
Progress: 68/501pages

The First Man in Rome by Colleen McCullough

The First Man in Rome  - Colleen McCullough

Series: Masters of Rome #1


Well that was a badass senatorial decree (Senatus Consultum de republica defendenda).


More seriously, this book is hard to describe. It mostly follows Gaius Marius’s career and the start of Lucius Cornelius Sulla’s. It’s ambitious, entertaining, and gives a good sense of what things were actually like in Rome in ~100 BC. Yes, I know that liberties were taken, but I still felt that there was a fairly strong sense of place and an attempt to get into the Roman mindset. It also highlighted something that seems fairly obvious but I think frequently gets forgotten: cultures aren’t static and even in ancient times, thirty or fifty years make a difference to a society. One’s grandparents’ society will never be exactly like one’s own. More fantasy and science fiction writers should keep this in mind (okay, the historical fiction writers too). Anyway, it was interesting to see how the elements of Roman society and its military were evolving.


I did quite enjoy this book, although I’ll admit that I got a little lost with some of characters. The list at the beginning helped a bit but there were just so many characters that I lost track of where a few came from. Another stumbling block was the lack of chapters, or the really uneven consular year sections. There were page breaks and so on, but you definitely couldn’t play the “just one more chapter game.”


I plan on continuing with the series, but will probably wait a few months before attempting the next one. My rating reflects the fact that although I found it quite interesting, it could have been a bit more compelling and I feel there’s room for growth in the series.