Empire : An Epic Novel of Ancient Rome, Hardback

Empire : An Epic Novel of Ancient Rome Hardback

3.5 out of 5 (2 ratings)


In the international bestseller Roma, Steven Saylor told the story of the first thousand years of Rome by following the descendants of a single bloodline.

Now, in Empire, Saylor charts the destinies of five more generations of the Pinarius family, from the reign of the first emperor, Augustus, to the glorious height of Rome's empire under Hadrian. Through the eyes of the Pinarii, we witness the machinations of Tiberius, the madness of Caligula, the cruel escapades of Nero, and the chaos of the Year of Four Emperors in 69 A.D.

The deadly paranoia of Domitian is followed by the Golden Age of Trajan and Hadrian-but even the most enlightened emperors wield the power to inflict death and destruction on a whim. Empire is strewn with spectacular scenes, including the Great Fire of 64 A.D. that ravaged the city, Nero's terrifying persecution of the Christians, and the mind-blowing opening games of the Colosseum.

But at the novel's heart are the wrenching choices and seductive temptations faced by each new generation of the Pinarii.

One unwittingly becomes the sexual plaything of the notorious Messalina.

One enters into a clandestine affair with a Vestal virgin. One falls under the charismatic spell of Nero, while another is drawn into the strange new cult of those who deny the gods and call themselves Christians. However diverse their destinies and desires, all the Pinarii are united by one thing: the mysterious golden talisman called the fascinum handed down from a time before Rome existed.

As it passes from generation to generation, the fascinum seems to exercise a power not only over those who wear it, but over the very fate of the empire. Praise for Steven Saylor: 'Saylor expertly weaves the true history of Rome with the lives and loves of its fictional citizens.' Daily Express 'Saylor's scholarship is breathtaking and his writing enthrals' Ruth Rendell 'With the scalpel-like deftness of a Hollywood director, Saylor puts his finger on the very essence of Roman history.' Times Literary Supplement 'Readers will find his work wonderfully (and gracefully) researched...this is entertainment of the first order.' Washington Post


  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 576 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Historical fiction
  • ISBN: 9781845298586



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Showing 1 - 2 of 2 reviews.

Review by

This is an attempt by Saylor to chronicle the history of Rome during its "Empire" phase in the first and second centuries in a fictional format. Saylor's key characters are successive generations of the Pinarius family, a slightly obscure patrician clan who nevertheless in this book move in and out of the orbit of a number of Emperors including Caligula, Vespasian, Domitian, Trajan and Hadrian. Occasionally there is a slightly irritating tendency for characters to recite, history book style, a brief summary of events to another character simply as a format for bringing the reader up to date. But given the scope of the novel that is an understandable sin and overall this is an enjoyable and interesting read.

Review by

Empire follows the life of a few generations of the Pinarius family in the early Roman empire. It continues where the author left off in his book Roma. The latter book covered a longer period of time, and left little space for character development. However, this book spends time on individuals, but uses a rather crude device to fill in the gaps of history, especially in the first half of the book.The characters interact with the Roman Emperors (e.g. Nero, Claudius, Domitian, Hadrian) in various ways, and give a sense of life in these times (assuming the author has accurately captured it). It's a big book, one I picked up and read over many months as time permitted. I enjoyed it, but in the end not really sure what I got out of it other than an addition to my knowledge of history.