[[ epub pdf ]] Fortune's FavoritesAuthor Colleen McCullough – Bilb-weil.de

They were blessed by the gods at birth with wealth and privilege In a time of cataclysmic upheaval, a bold new generation of Romans vied for greatness amid the disintegrating remnants of their beloved Republic But there was one who towered above them alla brilliant and beautiful boy whose ambition was unequaled, whose love was legend and whose glory was Rome's A boy they would one day call Caesar


10 thoughts on “Fortune's Favorites

  1. Brandt Brandt says:

    The easiest way to become an expert in the end of the roman republic, and later, the end of Ceasar, is to read this series.
    Historical novels always walks a line of historical correctness and entertainment, i thought this series managed to provide both, which is an impressive feat considering the extensive amount of information available for this time-period.

    This series follows the most important romans and their families for two generations.
    The rise to power of the succesful battlecommander Gaius Marius, the following period under Sulla the dictator, the triumvirat between Pompeius Magnus, crassus and Ceasar, Ceasars campaigns in france and germany, his return to rome, and his murder.

    Each book ends with an afterword where McCullough explains what she have made up, what is speculation, and what we know.
    There are even a lot of authentic drawings based on bustes of the real people in the story.

    This is my favorite, non-fantasy, series.
    Really fascinating stuff..


  2. LeAnn LeAnn says:

    At more than 800 pages (not counting the 200 in the glossary), Fortune's Favorites is another massive and thorough volume in McCullough's recreation of the dissolution of the Roman Republic. Unlike the first two volumes, FF opens with action and moves more quickly. Sulla, away in Asia Minor challenging King Mithridates, has to cut short his efforts to subdue the ambitious eastern potentate (I apologize, but I had to use that word at least once in my life). Leaving Mithridates far from finished, Sulla rushes home to take care of Marius' supporters.

    McCullough had a tough job with Sulla. Complex and in many ways not admirable, he returns to Italy disfigured by a horrible skin condition and the effects of diabetes mellitus (those wily Greek physicians knew enough to ban honey, ripe fruit, bread, and sweet wine to save his life). He's lost all his hair and teeth. Still, Sulla is driven by his Roman pride in his dignitas, his belief in his favor by the goddess Fortuna, and his determination to right everything that's gone wrong in the Republic.

    One of the main reasons FF is so much more compelling, although not a page-turner, is that now across Rome's political stage waltz, swagger, smirk, and command, a whole host of Fortuna's favorites: Pompey, self-identified as 'Magnus' (Great); Cicero; Crassus, and, most importantly, Julius Caesar.

    Unlike Sulla, whom McCullough went to some effort to paint sympathetically rather than as the psychopath that he must have been, Caesar comes across as someone to admire. Perhaps McCullough liked Caesar better or perhaps the fact that more is written about this time than the period covered in the first two books. Either way, the reader comes away wanting to know about Caesar, admiring his intellect and confidence, his sense of himself and his role, and his moral rectitude. Unlike his rivals for this age, Caesar's ambition isn't narcissistic and self-serving. That's not to say he doesn't think highly of himself, only that his self appraisal is honest and more deserving.

    There are also a few villains, including Antoninus Hybrida and Gaius Verres. The first finds pleasure in mutilating people, Greeks and slaves. He believes his skills are artistic and perfects them to the degree that his victims live. Verres steals art from temples and private homes, not to destroy for its precious materials but because he loves it. (Cicero successfully prosecutes him.)


  3. Megan Megan says:

    Picking this up for my June read in my year-long Tome Topple challenge.

    ***

    Like the first two installments in her Masters of Rome series, McCullough's writing and research is impeccable, but sadly, fortune didn't totally favour me on this one. I felt a little bit bogged down by everything, a little bit removed and disinterested from the plot, and, if I'm honest, a little bit bored at various times throughout the novel.

    I struggled right from the start - 200 odd pages of military manoeuvres and battles and tactics just didn't excite me, and I found myself itching to get back into the politics of the Roman Senate. Even then though, it took a while to bring myself to care about new-ish characters like Pompey, Crassus, Cicero, etc, because despite they're being featured in the previous instalment (The Grass Crown), this is the first time that they take centre stage. Even Young Caesar had moments (eg. the episodes with the old king, Nicomedes) where his story failed to incite my interest. I have to admit to quite a bit of skim reading at times like this.

    And Sulla! *deep sigh* Sulla was one of the reasons why I was looking forward to reading this novel, but unfortunately, even he was a bit of a let down. There's a lapse of time between the end of The Grass Crown and Fortune's Favourites to allow for his return from the Middle East to Italy, but McCullough also used it to bring on the onset of the illness that eventually ends his life. It's odd, because from memory, Sulla is fit and fine at the end of Grass Crown, yet when we meet him in Fortune's Favourites, not only is he physically changed, but he feels like a completely different character. I found it hard to recognise a lot of the qualities that I had enjoyed reading about in him in the first two novels - his complexity and moral greyness, for instance - and while this may be an affect of his horrible illness, Sulla felt like a complete stranger, and I didn't enjoy it at all.

    Overall, though, it wasn't technically a bad book. It did have its redeeming moments, and as always, McCullough's level of detail is incredible. But perhaps it was because I read this after recently covering this period in my history class at uni (and therefore any element of surprised that I'd had from lack of knowledge in the first two books was removed entirely) that added to the problems I had with this giant novel. Either way, 900 pages can be a slog when you're not wholeheartedly invested in a novel, and Fortune's Favourites had the misfortune of being unable to live up to the brilliance that was delivered in The Grass Crown.


  4. Becky Becky says:

    The third book in Colleen McCullough's Masters of Rome Series that began with The First Man in Rome, Fortune's Favorites covers the period from 83-69 B.C. It picks up shortly after The Grass Crown left off. Lucius Cornelius Sulla has defeated King Mithridates of Pontus and expelled him from the Asia Province, and is headed home with the intention of becoming Dictator of Rome. While Sulla's career has reached its peak, Gaius Julius Caesar has just come of age. Caesar's adventures are mythic: from military glory to being kidnapped by pirates; from battling a slave rebellion led by the ex-gladiator Spartacus, to political intrigue in the Roman Senate. Caesar is the Ancient World's version of James Bond -- he is a handsome, brilliant, fearless, womanizing rake who is also hard-working, loyal and ambitious. McCullough brings history to life in such a way that in spite of a basic familiarity with the events to come, I can't wait to see what happens next.


  5. Ahmad Sharabiani Ahmad Sharabiani says:

    Fortune's Favorites (Masters of Rome #3), Colleen McCullough


  6. Gumble& Gumble& says:

    Third in the “Masters of Rome” series. Contains an excellent and very detailed summary of the plot of the first two novels in the series and of events in an interim period between the books.

    The initial part of the book concentrates on Sulla’s return from the East – raddled by skin disease and ill-health, finding consolation in alcohol but still formidable: his campaign in Italy and defeat of Young Marius; Sertorius’s escape to Spain; Pompey’s raising of an army to join Sulla; the Saminite uprising and Sulla’s defeat and massacre of them at the gates of Rome; his demanding of the position of Dictator; the initial violence of his reign in reprisals, murders and disappearances and then the institutionalisation of his reprisals on the Marians and on the Knights more generally in the list of Prescribed individuals; his methodical series of laws to restore the ascendancy of the Patricians over the Knights, the Senate over the Tribunes of the Plebs, as well as effectively aiming to prevent another Marius (or Sulla) marching his troops on Rome; and then his retirement after a year as Consul, his coming out and his last degenerate months finally living true to his real nature.

    The remainder of the book concentrates on three men of the next generation: Caesar, Crassus and Pompey. Caesar defies Sulla by refusing to divorce his child bride and demanding to resign his religious post. He flees but is taken ill and captured; Sulla is however swayed to release him both by dramatic pleas from Aurelia (Caesar’s mother and long time Sulla friend) and by being told about Marius’s plot to ruin Caesar’s future. Caesar is sent to Asia – there he exceeds all expectations in befriending King Nicodemes of Bithynia and securing a huge fleet in quick time (leading to rumours thereafter that he had an affair with the King) – he then joins a siege and despite being given a deliberately front line position saves his cohort and wins the Civic Crown (making him automatically a Senator). Returning to Rome he pursues a legal path becoming famous for his oratory. Kidnapped by pirates en route to an oratory teacher (who Cicero had already visited) he memorises their hidden location and returns with a fleet to see through his promise to have them crucified. During his various Asian adventures (including raising and training his own army from the locals to defeat a Pontian army) he routinely exceeds his authority and upsets the local governors.

    Pompey - childish and full of his own importance aids Sulla, on his behalf conducts brilliant campaigns in Sicily and Africa and then argues with Sulla demanding a triumph (and threatening to march his troops on Rome), Sulla gives in but manages to make Pompey look a fool. Pompey then uses his wealth to build a faction in the Senate (which he refuses to join despite his military heroics entitling him to junior membership which he considers beneath him) and that faction has him appointed even though not a Senator let alone an ex-Consul to run a Pro-Consular campaign in Spain where he eventually leads a defeat of the Marian and Spanish armies under Sertorius.

    Crassus (known more for his ability to make money – e.g. by taking advantage of Sulla’s prescriptions - and then lend it to gain influence- but also a great general) leads the defeat of the slave rebellion of Spartacus and shows his determination firstly by decimating a legion of inexperienced conscripts that fled a battle and then by crucifying the 6000 captured rebels for the length of the road to Rome.

    Both Crassus and Pompey (who renters Italy in time to wipe out the remnants of Spartacus) are fierce rivals, but find themselves in dispute with the Senate (Crassus wanting a proper Triumph and a reward of land for his troops and Pompey to be able to stand as Consul despite not being a Senator) and both have standing armies outside Rome. Caesar brilliantly constructs an expedient alliance between them – convincing them that if they are to get what they want and get to avoid prosecution for treason they need to stand on a joint Consul ticket (which they do unopposed) but then restore the Tribunes Plebian rights and get the Tribunes to declare their immunity. He similarly engineers a popular public reconciliation between the two after their rivalry in the consular year to provide the most popular entertainment for the masses.

    Cicero is featured during the book particularly his brilliant prosecution of Verres in Pompey/Crassus’s consular year. We also meet a teenage runaway – Mark Antony.

    Large passages of the book are effectively no more than a non-fiction book with some (normally the minor but crucial events/marriages/elections described in (often too much) detail but what makes the series is the detailed narrative and dialogue passages around the major events (not just battles but also the large set piece debates and the behind the scenes political manipulations) and characters. The portrayal of the major characters is excellent – with by far the best characterisation of the first three books being that of the terrible and terrifying Sulla, but also an excellent picture of the developing Caesar and his political and legal career (in stark contrast to the “Emperor” series) and the spoilt child self-styled Pompey the Great.


  7. James Burns James Burns says:

    I am always in awe of Ms. McCullough in how she brings history alive and how extensive is her research and how accurate she records historical events for a work of fiction. Fortunes Favorite begins with the death of Gaius Marius 7 times Consular and third man of Rome. Sulla is marching on Rome and installs himself as Dictator. We see a rise in power of Pompey Magnus and Marcus Licinius Crassus. after Pompey finally defeats Quintus Sertorius after suffering a humiliating defeat in Spain and Crassus after defeating the Gladiator Spartacus after other roman Generals suffered a series of Humiliating defeats. after Sulla retires from public life these two become embattled in a power struggle and become consular's. As Gaius Julius Caesar is starting to rise in popularity and recognition.
    I cant wait to read the next book in this series Caesars Women. I highly recommend this to people that are historical fanatics like I am


  8. Tudor Ciocarlie Tudor Ciocarlie says:

    Read it at the same time with Caesar Life of a Colossus by Adrian Goldsworty. Incredible how accurate Masters of Rome series is and how much work Colleen McCullough has put in it.


  9. Bruce Bruce says:

    This book, which covers from Sulla's return to Italy, march on Rome, and establishment of himself as Dictator-for-life through to retirement and death... and then keeps going for another 200-300 pages (ending with a mildly-entertaining, if aseptic summary of Spartacus' uprising -- insufficient willingness to fantasize in the absence of primary source material? -- and Pompey's reduction of Mithridates). What a slog. I lost momentum when I failed to take it with me on vacation and now am having difficulty motivating myself to return to it. McCullough's view of historical fiction seems to be to elaborate everything she could possibly research as it happened, as opposed to condensing material to bring out specific themes or concentrating on a specific narrative. The narrative itself is readable enough, it's just that I can no longer bring myself to care for this series when I know:

    (1) Julius Caesar's fame appears to derive more from his succession by his nephew Augustus than any of his own accomplishments or reforms (all of which had multiple precedents); and

    (2) McCullough is carrying the series through a 7th book, Antony and Cleopatra, and PAST the battles of Actium and Phillippi. What's next? A recap of I Claudius?

    I feel as though I'd be more thoroughly and entertainingly served by William Gibbon, whom McCullough makes look a master of concision.


  10. Liviu Liviu says:

    one more Masters of Rome reread completing the trilogy about Marius and Sulla and my favorite 3 novels of the series; the second part here after Sulla's retirement is about the new generation, Caesar, Pompey and Crassus and it begins a new chapter in the series in so many ways which as mentioned before is still quite good but lacks the ambiguity of the earlier volumes as everything Caesar does is perfect and to the best, while his enemies are generally incompetent and/or stupid and that starts grating sooner rather than later