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The First Man in Rome (Masters of Rome #1)

4.08  ·  Rating Details ·  16,436 Ratings  ·  729 Reviews
The first book in the epic Masters of Rome series.

Rome. 110BC. A city which is home to Gaius Marius, prosperous but lowborn, a proud and disciplined soldier emboldened by his shrewdness and self-made wealth. It is also home to Lucius Cornelius Sulla, a handsome young aristocrat corrupted by powerty, a shameless pleasure seeker.

Two men of extraordinary vision, men of ruthle
Paperback, 893 pages
Published August 7th 2003 by Arrow (first published January 1st 1990)
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If I could have sex with this book, I would.

Nothing I write can really do justice to why I love this book so much. I've just finished it for at least the 4th time (most likely the 5th), and the series will probably serve as my comfort read whenever I'm in a book slump. They're great and awesome and a guaranteed satisfying read. They've spoiled me for pretty much all other HF out there, no matter the time period. Apart from Patrick O'Brian, no other author has seemed to capture an era so brillian
Tea Jovanović
Upravo sam juce na FB-u pisala o ovom serijalu... zato sto se tek sada pojavio prvi deo u Hrvatskoj... komentar je na FB stranici Povijesni romani... prevod srpskog izdanja je zastao - prevodilica je stigla do dela gde treba da ubije Cezara a to joj se nikako ne da... :) Prevodi su dobri, Zermen je veliki poznavalac Starog Rima :)

I detalj nepoznat široj javnosti... Srpski čitaoci mogu da zahvale direktno meni i mojoj neiscrpnoj upornosti da dobru knjigu doteram do čitaoca... 5 godina sam molila
Ashley *Hufflepuff Kitten*
Monthly group read with Historical Fictionistas!

A solid four stars, which will probably get bumped up to five once I get a chance to reread this in its entirety rather than listening to the abridged audiobook. Don't get me wrong, the audiobook is fantastic, but... abridged. *shrugs* DOS did a fantastic job reading, as I knew he would, and McCullough's research shines through each of these characters. I don't know how much of each character was made up and how much was historical fact (aside from
Oct 29, 2016 BrokenTune rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
There is something terribly reassuring about being in politics to enrich oneself. It's normal. It's human. It's forgivable. It's understandable. The ones to watch are the ones who are in politics to change the world. They do real damage, the power-men and the altruists.

I've always been hesitant about reading The First Man in Rome, Colleen McCullough's magnum opus about the Roman Republic. I just didn't know what to expect, and the size of the book (my very large hardcopy version had 700+ pages)
Jul 21, 2008 maricar rated it really liked it
a larger-than-life, fascinating novel...

Halfway through this book, I found myself with eyes full of dark circles. That's when I realized that I haven't had a full night's sleep since picking up this novel. Which in turn made me wonder at my reluctance towards reading another Colleen McCullough book (my previous book by her was, unfortunately, less than memorable). Suffice to say, after reading The First Man in Rome, I am now more than willing to eat my words and bow at the brilliance of McCullou
Allison (The Allure of Books)
Feb 19, 2009 Allison (The Allure of Books) rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Allison (The Allure of Books) by: Kandice Zelaskowski
This book is just...a collosal achievement. The Thornbirds is just "eh" for me, her take on P&P made me really appreciate her as a skilled author and storyteller...but THIS book makes me revere and idolize her as one of the best authors in existance.

This is an almost 1000 page book about the ancient Roman senate, and I was addicted to every single word. How awesome is that? I was terrified to start it, when I glanced over the almost 300 page glossary, all I could think was "man, what if I'm
Marilyn Ware
Mar 01, 2008 Marilyn Ware rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've read the entire Man in Rome series - TWICE. 900 plus pages per book. My all-time-favorite books. I'd read them all yet again should I feel so compelled. I tried to get them all in hard-bound so I could keep them for my grandson to read. I'm only missing the one I loaned out. (Dang, I shouldn't do that!)

In my opinion there is not a more definitive, comprehensive, and well researched set of novels written about the Roman Empire, Caesar in particular. Love history? Read, read, read!
Jun 06, 2008 Alex rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I started to get more interested in ancient Rome (particularly the Republic) after the HBO series started. I read Tom Holland's excellent Rubicon and knew I needed more--especially on Marius and Sulla, two of the most fascinating characters of this or any historical period. When I learned of McCullough's series, I began with this one and was immediately hooked. I've read all seven, but my favorites are the first 3 or 4.

I really appreciated the way she was faithful to the known history but filled
Feb 25, 2009 April rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The First Man In Rome by Colleen McCullough is a door-stopper of a book. Without the 100 page glossary, it clocks in at 931 pages. The premise of the book is that it details the rise to power of Gaius Marius, also known as the third founder of Rome. There's politics, sex, and war. Really, you would think the First Man in Rome would be right up my alley and take a short time for me to read. Eh, wrong.

Read the rest of my review here
First I have to compliment Colleen McCullough on her research. Truly 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 o ...more
May 30, 2017 Phoenix2 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: historical romance
Okay, to be honest, I didn't finished this one. I was hoping more of a historical focused novel, rather than a fiction-romance with some historical background. So, I guess, 2 out of 5.
Apr 22, 2012 Jean-marcel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book blew my mind in the mid-90s. It's long, but extremely addictive reading. Until the moment I started this tome, which was recommended to me by my highschool latin and classical civilisations teacher in the ninth grade, I never fancied myself a reader of historical fiction. But this is just a grate novel in every respect. McCullough can write with equal confidence and arresting zeal about domestic, familial conflicts, or huge military campaigns involving the great Legions of Rome, and ma ...more
Jun 05, 2009 PDXReader rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This novel was highly recommended to me by a co-worker who knew I'd liked I, Claudius and Imperium: A Novel of Ancient Rome. He said that although Colleen McCullough is best known for The Thorn Birds, she is actually a well-respected authority on ancient Rome.

I have to admit that I approached The First Man in Rome with a lot of skepticism. It sat on my shelf for two years before circumstances compelled me to start it... and within 10 pages I was hooked. I found it to be a compelling read, so muc
I'll keep this brief, a lot has already been said in the other reviews. The book does a decent job if you're interested in this fascinating period of the roman revolution. However, summarizing; it's over-long, the beginning (100+ pages) it's very disorganized, the narrative tricks get really old (the use of letters to cover historical and plot gaps is extremely annoying), the coverage of battles is minimal, the ending stretches far too long. On the upside, the senate scenes are good and convinci ...more
At long last.

Whenever I decide to give a new author a shot, I tend to stay away from the doorstoppers. Nothing against long novels, but the possibility of a very long mediocrity isn't appealing with my to-read list bobbing at 60. That said, I have a deep fascination for late Republic/early Empire Roman material, fact or fiction, and so I was willing to throw the dice on this one, and the results as you can see were mixed.

From a story perspective, this is a tough review. Parts of the novel were
Apr 10, 2017 Xabi1990 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Conste que lo he intentado. 650 pags leídas (57%), pero tiro la toalla.

Está muy, muy bien ambientado. Demasiado bien para mi gusto en novela. Porque yo busco una novela, no una profusión asfixiante de detalles de la época.

En novela histórica suelo tirar de búsquedas en la Red por curiosidad, pero con esta novela no me quedaban ganas. Cantidad de nombres parecidos me hacían releer varias veces para aclararme, páginas dedicadas a costumbres y ropajes, comidas y organización política. Y lo peor : m
This is a truly amazing work of scholarship and creativity. I had been looking for something to help me understand the Roman Republic and in McCullough, I have found it! It brings the Roman Republic to life in a way that non-fiction cannot. This book is addictive and I will read the next one in the series, "The Grass Crown".

McCullough gives us possible personalities, motives, priorities and character traits of the major players in the rise to power of Gaius Marius. I learned how the Roman army r
This was always going to be daunting - 1000 pages about an era I know nothing about, with a cast of dozens who each have at least three unpronounceable names to get my head around, plus the prospect of long wars and dreary politics which never hold my attention - so when my GR friend Diane Lynn also expressed an interest in reading it, the thought of tackling it as a buddy read was very appealing!

There was a lot to enjoy, particularly Sulla's antics which started out as crazy debauched fun and e
Sep 06, 2010 Justus rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
After 180 pages I put this down in disgust. I just couldn't choke down any more of the flat characters, out-of-place dicticism, and stupid plotting.

I went into this hesitant because I'm already predisposed to not like historical fiction. I ended up not liking it but largely not for the reasons I thought I wouldn't like it. This book just felt like bad, bad writing.

I realize that part of the problem is that McCullough needs to "educate" her readers. But the explanation, for instance, of Sulla's p
another reread of an all time favorite, again I have no idea how many so far but 10+ reads; still as engrossing as on first read and keeping its place in my top 5 books/series of all time - books 1-3 are just awesome, while the rest are excellent though marred by the author's deification of Caesar

Marius and Sulla and an extraordinary supporting cast with high stakes politics, war, love, murders, and the best panoramic historical recreation of an era I've ever read

Tudor Ciocarlie
I'm late to the Masters of Rome party, so I will only say that this is truly one of the greatest series of all time and an incredible recreation of Rome in the time of the Crisis of the Republic. 8000 pages are not enough for what the writer is doing in these books. Colleen McCullough is a genius!
Dec 10, 2008 Flan rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I Cladius meets Clan of the CaveBear
Inese Okonova
Mar 28, 2017 Inese Okonova rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library
Vispirms par smieklīgo. Darbs ir kolosāla apjoma: apmēram 1200 lpp. Visu cieņu autorei, tulkotājai un izdevniecībai. Bet tad tu paņem grāmatu rokās (man tas nejauši sanāca, kad biju izlasījusi nieka pirmās 600 lpp.) un uz 4. vāka izlasi aprakstu, ka šī grāmata esot par "bagātu, bet zemas izcelsmes sievieti Mariju un nabadzībā grimušo aristokrātu Sullu". Lieki teikt, ka ne pirmajās, ne nākamajās 600 lappusēs neparādās neviena Marija. Toties visa grāmata stāsta par izcilā karavadoņa Gaja Marija ka ...more
Diane Lynn
I finished...what a sense of accomplishment! I had wanted to start McCullough’s Rome series for the longest time, but was scared to death of it because I knew nothing of the time period and then there’s the massive size of this book. Peeking at the first few pages and seeing the character names would send my head spinning. Names like Spurius Postumius Albinus and Quintus Lutatius Catulus, and if three names isn’t enough, then throw in Lucius Caecilius Metellus Dalmaticus Pontifex Maximus (yes, I ...more
Sep 11, 2009 Fiona rated it really liked it
Recommended to Fiona by: Kandice Zelaskowski
Well... ghosh I've finished and what a book! I'm not sure if I have the energy to write this review but I better write one before my brain falls backwards in its skull and goes into hibernation.

I'm feeling a little dizzy at the moment. I have just been living in the Roman times with togas and centurions galore and I'm not quite ready for the real world. My head feels like you do after you've just come off a merry go round - I'm standing still but everything else is just spinning around in a mad
If anyone asks me for a "good book" rec, I suggest McCullough's Masters of Rome series - after finding out if they like history. Because there's plenty! The detailed passages explaining the ins and outs of the Roman senate and how it all worked are not boring because McCullough is a born storyteller and can make even the driest, dustiest stuff interesting. Her characters, people who lived over 2000 years ago, are bonafide historical figures who actually existed and she brings them to vibrant lif ...more
Wow. This book is the very definition of epic. A bit too slow at times and am glad this is a series so I can catch up to a few of the characters presented in this book.
Myke Cole
Anyone following my reviews knows by now how unsettling it is for me to disagree with prevailing sentiment about the quality of a book. The First Man in Rome is universally acclaimed, and so I really felt like there was something wrong with me when I found that I was, at best, feeling "meh" about it.

I am a fanatic about ancient history, and that of the Roman Republic in particular. McCullough is right to hone in on the absolutely incredible intricacies of the Roman Social Wars and the Jugurthine
Ty Parsons
Sep 23, 2012 Ty Parsons rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
To every reader there is a book that stops you in your tracks, and not for a good reason. More a book that just goes on and on, and literally just chews up your time, patience and turns you off reading. This book is one of them.
Having read Colleen McCullough before(and still will) I was keen to read the Masters of Rome series. After this book I will continue no further.
In the end I failed to finish this book, despite being really interested in how it may have played out. 550/781, and I just coul
Aug 02, 2011 Vikram rated it did not like it
I want to register my displeasure with this series of books, and this place is as good a forum as any. The series begins with the lives of Sulla (Dictator of Rome) and Gaius Marius, and culminates some time after the death of Caesar (hope that isnt a spoiler). While Ms. McCullogh has done an admirable amount of research and the books are exceedingly accurate historically, the books quickly become bogged down in minutae of Roman life in general and the Senate in particular. The series devolves in ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
  • Roman Blood (Roma Sub Rosa, #1)
  • Claudius the God and His Wife Messalina (Claudius, #2)
  • Eagle in the Snow
  • Hero of Rome (Gaius Valerius Verrens, #1)
  • Pride of Carthage
  • Imperium: A Novel of Ancient Rome (Cicero, #1)
  • The Forgotten Legion (Forgotten Legion Chronicles, #1)
  • Julian
  • The Eagle's Prophecy (Eagle, #6)
  • The Last of the Wine
Colleen Margaretta McCullough was an Australian author known for her novels, her most well-known being The Thorn Birds and Tim.

Raised by her mother in Wellington and then Sydney, McCullough began writing stories at age 5. She flourished at Catholic schools and earned a physiology degree from the University of New South Wales in 1963. Planning become a doctor, she found that she had a violent aller
More about Colleen McCullough...

Other Books in the Series

Masters of Rome (7 books)
  • The Grass Crown (Masters of Rome, #2)
  • Fortune's Favorites (Masters of Rome, #3)
  • Caesar's Women (Masters of Rome, #4)
  • Caesar (Masters of Rome, #5)
  • The October Horse: A Novel of Caesar and Cleopatra (Masters of Rome, #6)
  • Antony and Cleopatra (Masters of Rome, #7)

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“The law should not be a huge and weighty slab which falls upon a man and squashes him into a uniform shape, for men are not uniform.” 10 likes
“I think I'll wear the Chian outfit,' he said to his body servant standing waiting for orders. Many men in Marius's position would have lain back in the bath water and demanded that they be scrubbed, scraped, and massaged by slaves, but Gaius Marius preferred to do his own dirty work, even now. Mind you, at forty-seven he was still a fine figure of a man. Nothing to be ashamed of about his physique! No matter how ostensibly inert his days might be, he got in a fair amount of exercise, worked with the dumbbells and the closhes, swam if he could several times across the Tiber in the reach called the Trigarium, then ran all the way back from the far perimeter of the Campus Martius to his house on the flanks of the Capitoline Arx. His hair was getting a bit thin on top, but he still had enough dark brown curls to brush forward into a respectable coiffure. There. That would have to do. A beauty he had never been, never would be. A good face - even an impressive one - but no rival for Gaius Julius Caesar's!” 0 likes
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