Why You Should Read Margaret George’s Nero Duology

The Confessions Of Young Nero by Margaret George

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I feel as though 2020 might just be my year of long and meaty books. The Confessions Of Young Nero by Margaret George kicks this off for me. You see, I lowered my Goodreads challenge goal by about 50 books so I would not be nervous to take on some epic sized books. George’s The Confessions Of Young Nero is an intimate look at the Roman Emperor Nero, most widely remembered for allegedly fiddling while Rome burned.

The Confessions of Young Nero essentially follows Nero from about three years old all the way until the fire that burns Rome. This book does not shy from the controversial. Nor does it leave anything out. George paints Nero as a sympathetic character — but not as someone without flaws. I felt like she really did give Nero a fair shake. She does a wonderful job in the book’s afterword explaining her research as well as interpretation of the sources as not entirely infallible but slightly biased.

I think that although this book is long, it is interesting. There are times when it is a fast read– for myself, when Nero had his romantic entanglements and when he is training for athletics. There are also times when this book is a slow read. I think it will depend on your individual interests. On the whole, The Confessions Of Young Nero took me ten days to read. This is much longer than my typical time to finish a book. However, there is a lot to absorb within the pages.

The character development is very well done – and boy do we have an interesting cast of characters and historical figures. Although fiction, I do feel that my understanding of this time in Roman history is enhanced. Plus we get a chapter or two on the battle with Queen Boudicca which is just fascinating. Actually, after that bit I was thinking how interesting a YA book on either Boudicca or her daughters would be. This book really does also delve into the side characters. It also gives women a good portion of the spotlight too.

Overall, I absolutely would recommend The Confessions Of Young Nero. Be prepared for a long read — if you are a slow reader it might take you a month. It is worth it though for the depth within. I may be new to Margaret George’s work, but I will definitely be picking up more of her books. And now I may need a breather before picking up The Splendor Before The Dark, because these books are such a time investment.

Overall, I absolutely would recommend The Confessions Of Young Nero. Be prepared for a long read -- if you are a slow reader it might take you a month.


The Splendor Before The Dark by Margaret George

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I am feeling so accomplished for my 2020 reading right now. That’s because I took on the challenge of reading two massive adult books and smashed it. Granted, I read The Splendor Before The Dark by Margaret George via audiobook. I have to say I quite liked the audiobook version – even listening to it at a slower speed than I typically do. On the whole, if you’re looking to be immersed in a story and are really into character development, you can’t go wrong with George’s Nero duology.

The Splendor Before The Dark essentially starts right when Rome is burning and continues until just past Nero’s death. We have chapters from the point of view of Nero, Locusta the poisoner, and Acte, the freedwoman Nero was in love with once upon a time. This story goes into Poppea’s next pregnancies and her death. It even covers Nero’s reaction to after her death. It’s incredibly detailed but not at all boring. I found that I was really invested in Nero and what would happen next. This book is quite clear eyed regarding him too.

I think that Nero’s portrayal came across as fair. He was beloved by the common people, but not so much by the senators. When it comes to who writes history, well it is absolutely not the common people. He certain had so many faults and again, this book does not shy away from them. At the same time though, we do see the good in his character as well as the tragedy. I think that if you’re looking for a complete story about one of Rome’s emperors, then you should read this duology. It’s really quite the masterpiece.

The Splendor Before The Dark essentially starts right when Rome is burning and continues until just past Nero's death.


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April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.
About April (Books&Wine)

April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.

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