FORTUNE'S FAVORITES by Colleen McCullough

FORTUNE'S FAVORITES

Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

 In her third majestic tale of Rome (83-69 B.C.), McCullough spotlights three mighty beings and the frictive sparks from their occasional interactions: Sulla, Dictator of Rome, whose early career was chronicled in The First Man in Rome (1990) and The Grass Crown (1991); the military juggernaut Pompey; and the great Julius Caesar, ``the greatest prime mover of them all.'' Again, McCullough brings order to the mighty tangle of battles and political strategies of ancient heavyweights--in the Forum Romanum or in the tents of war. Sulla, his early beauty gone, scabrous, toothless, and given to bouts with the wineskin, takes over Rome as Dictator, issues a blizzard of new laws returning rule to the patricians (landed aristocrats), and banishes all masks and effigies of his old partner and foe, the late Gaius Marius (The First Man in Rome). Sulla will tolerate the contributions of Pompey, who insists on being called ``Magnus'' and has a child's temperament (``He could never be a danger to the Republic,'' says Caesar). Among those opposing Sulla is Young Marius (son of Gaius Marius), whose head will join others of Sulla's enemies on poles by the Senate. Working for ``order and method,'' Sulla labors for Rome and thereby his ``dignitas'' (``his personal impressiveness''--the only triumph over death). His job done, Sulla makes a shocking exit and has a last laugh. Meanwhile, Julius Caesar, finally relieved of a hated role as priest, embarks on a series of extraordinary military and diplomatic coups, but quietly, correct in hierarchical obligations, stunning in charm, intelligence and beauty--and patient. Like other authors of popular Roman historical fiction, McCullough must reconcile those civil, gossipy, sophisticated makers and doers with acts of bizarre cruelty (the Spartacus slave revolt featured over 6,000 crucifixions along a major highway). But the author's fidelity to sources, her witty glossary, and strong narration offer some firm ground and exciting speculation. (Maps and illustrations) (Literary Guild Dual Selection for January; First printing of 100,000)

Pub Date: Oct. 18th, 1993
ISBN: 0-688-09370-1
Page count: 890pp
Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1st, 1993




MORE BY COLLEEN MCCULLOUGH

MysterySINS OF THE FLESH by Colleen McCullough
by Colleen McCullough
FictionTHE PRODIGAL SON by Colleen McCullough
by Colleen McCullough