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The prequel to I,Claudius
am 15. Juni 2000
First I have to compliment Colleen McCullough on her research. Truely an outstanding effort and very praiseworthy. Her glossary at the end of the book is excellent and one which I have referred back to more then once for just general information. Having said that I now have to state that the entire series has been going down in quality since the second installment The Grass Crown. With the first two novels it is apparent that Ms. McCullough wrote them more or less simultaneously over a period of several years while doing her very extensive research. I read that she spent over five years researching and writing the first chapters and it shows. The attention to detail is excellent, her characters come to life, they sound and act like Romans. There is nothing modern about her dialouge, plot, or characterization. After a short while I felt like I was reading a prequel to Robert Grave's classic novels about Claudius. The only thing I felt there wasn't enough of was the biting wit that was so prevelant in Graves work. Unfortunly starting with the third installment I saw the old Colleen McCullough coming through. The bestselling author who has written The Thornbirds and Tim. It was obvious that the research was done and the dramatic stage set was built. Now Ms. McCullough is simply filling in with her trademark writing. Instead of a series of Roman novels now we have a soap opera with rather modern characters running around in togas. Instead of intruiging and fleshed out historical personas we have hero worship of Julius Ceaser and two dimensional characters. I made it through the fourth installment and gave up. More tired then disgusted - for what had been rather unusual has now become typical and could just as easily be set in New York City of today. I reccommend the first two novels highly. In my opinion they reach a level higher then the average summertime read, but after that one has mind candy pure and simple. Instead read I, Claudius and Claudius the God and his wife Messalina by Robert Graves if you want truly enertaining fiction set in the Roman Empire. Vale.