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Your First 70 Hours of Roman History

"I, Claudius" has rapidly become my second favorite historical fiction. It's written by the author as an 'autobiography' of the Emperor Claudius, who had all sorts of troubles in his life -- he was lame and could barely walk, was bullied often as a child and overlooked, his father was most likely killed by poisoning at a young age, he stuttered, and had a variety of other issues. And yet, he survived and became Emperor.

I want to recommend it, since it's excellent especially on audiobook (the narrator is awesome, hilarious, does voices well, understands drama, and obviously knew Roman history well enough himself to cover it very credibly).

But the more I thought about recommending the book, the more I realized you need a lot of background on Roman history to truly appreciate it. It's a great book for weaving together the pieces of Roman history from the end of Republic through to the establishment of the Empire, but you need the background on the Republic, Civil Wars, and early Empire first.

So I thought about it. Here's my recommended order for learning some Roman history, with a mix of links to podcasts, books, and audiobooks --

1. Hardcore History's The Death of the Roman Republic series: Hardcore History is my favorite podcast, with Dan Carlin really bringing history to life. This is the best place to dive into Rome, adn it explains all the tensions and conflict of the late Roman Republic which led to the Civil Wars, introduces you intimately to many of the personalities involved, and is really enjoyable and exciting in the process. It's entirely free, so start here.

Review - King of Thorns by Mark Lawrence

On Books In Progress

Having finished Prince of Thorns (see previous blog post) I was fulling intending to pick up a different book but the world of Jorg proved far too attractive when compared to anything else I had lined up.

It won't be a surprise that in this book we find Jorg installed as king in his own right. It is also his wedding day. Rather inconventiently his castle is also about to be attacked by a huge army and he just doesn't have the troops to stop them.

The main story thread takes place over the day of the wedding and the battle to save his castle and kingdom. Any worries that Jorg has become soft in the years since the first book are swifly put aside as it's clear that with a proper army he can simply cause mayhem on a larger scale.

Like the first book there is also a 'flashback' story, again taking place four years previously, a year after he declared himself king. In this his journey takes him to other parts of the broken empire, showing more variety than the first book. There is also more use of arcane powers - for good and evil - and other adversaries join the story.

I thought the first book was excellent, if a little light on plot. This follow up is another notch up on the scale. The battle scenes are tenser, the plans even more desperate. The plot is now in full swing and moves nicely between the two story threads, evens from four years previously having direct impact on the present.

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