Title: The Confessions of Young Nero
Author: Margaret George
Series: Nero #1
Publication: March 8th 2018 by Pan
Genre: Historical Fiction
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Rating: 1/5★ (DNF)
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 life, and when 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 survival rests on his ability to navigate the dangerous deceit that Rome is awash with. Most lethal of all is his own mother, Agrippina, whose only goal is to control the empire. Nero’s determination to escape her grasp will shape him into the man he was fated to become – a legendary emperor.
The Confessions of Young Nero is a book that I should’ve loved. Historical fiction set in ancient Rome is one of my favorite settings. I can’t get enough of it. But when I’m reading a book and don’t want to pick it up for three whole days, I know something is up. So around 30% of the book I decided to give up on it and not continue reading anymore. I just didn’t like the story and I didn’t want to waste more time on a book I wasn’t enjoying anymore.
I felt kind of bad for not continuing with reading the book. I love reading about ancient Rome so much and I’ve always been intrigued by Nero because I don’t think I’ve ever read a book about him before, whether it’s fiction or nonfiction. The start of the book wasn’t even that bad. I actually really enjoyed the first 50 pages and was looking forward to where the story would go next but then it started going downhill very fast.
I started having issues with how the story told in the first person. It just didn’t feel right to me. The book started with Nero being a little kid but the way he would think and speak was more like an adult would. I do have to say that I never like it when a big part of a story is devoted to when the main character in question is a child. It’s just not something I enjoy reading about. But it was all still pretty weird.
I only know the basics about Nero but it was pretty clear the author tried to rewrite the history about him. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that exactly because authors are allowed to write their take on a historical figure but I guess I wish she had done things differently, especially with the writing, which was kind of bland. Also, the attraction Nero had toward his mother and the things he may or may not have done with her, no matter if these things happened or not (though a lot was implied in the book) was just something I didn’t want to read about.
Another thing I didn’t like was how the powerful women of the time were being portrayed. They were all basically murdereresses that didn’t do anything more than poison the people around them for their own personal gain. And Nero was portrayed in a better light. I mean, sure that stuff did happen in those times but I think at this point in history we can maybe not judge women in history the way old male historians have done for ages, especially with a book written by a woman. But that’s just my personal take on it.
Margaret George writes biographical novels about outsized historical characters: Henry VIII, Mary Queen of Scots, Cleopatra, Mary Magdalene, Helen of Troy, and Elizabeth I. Her latest, The Confessions of Young Nero, will be published in March. All six of her novels have been New York Times bestsellers, and the Cleopatra novel was made into an Emmy-nominated ABC-TV miniseries.
She especially enjoys the research she has done for the novels, such as racing in an ancient Greek stadium, attending a gladiator training school in Rome, and studying the pharmacology of snake poison.
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