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Empire: the Novel of Imperial Rome (Rome #2)

3.99  ·  Rating Details ·  1,736 Ratings  ·  144 Reviews
Continuing the saga begun in his New York Times bestselling novel Roma, Steven Saylor charts the destinies of the aristocratic Pinarius family, from the reign of Augustus to height of Rome’s empire. The Pinarii, generation after generation, are witness to greatest empire in the ancient world and of the emperors that ruled it - from the machinations of Tiberius and the madn ...more
Hardcover, 608 pages
Published August 31st 2010 by St. Martin's Press (first published January 1st 2010)
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Mr. Matt
Jun 29, 2013 Mr. Matt rated it liked it
Shelves: hf-roman, 2014
Empire is the follow up to Roma and I'm sorry to say that it left me a bit disappointed. In his comments at the end of the book the author confesses his own struggles in writing the book. Once the Republic ended and Empire began the story of Rome largely becomes the story of the Emperors - their failings, their successes, their digressions and so on.

I'm not so sure that I agree with that assessment. I think the author left an awful lot of potential untouched. For example, what about the emergen
Feb 12, 2012 Melissa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Was Empire as good as Roma? No. But it was still addictive in the extreme, and I inhaled it very quickly. In some ways, Empire was a little better than Roma in that the time span was much shorter, and there were only four generations covered, one following the other. Thus, each generation was like a small novel in and of itself. I found most of the major characters to be sympathetic, with the possible exception of Titus Pinarius (no spoilers here, but what a creep!). I really enjoyed the presenc ...more
Aug 01, 2010 Nancy rated it really liked it
Unlike the book “Roma,” which covers 1,000 years, this history of Rome covers a little over a century from the years A.D. 14 to A.D. 141. Saylor explores the reign of 16 emperors from Augustus to the infamous Nero (who actually didn’t fiddle while Rome burned) to Hadrian whose wall built across northern England still partially exists. He describes them in all their grandeur, benevolence, combative skills, religious beliefs, brutality, quirkiness, perverse sexual proclivities and maliciousness. T ...more
First empressions are always best - perhaps I should not have reread this. Because what once seemed like a giant feat of imagination and creativity, seems after a while... well... lets just say the idea - journey through the years with the members of one family - is still great, but the things that weren't bothering the first time, are unescapable now.

Like the exposition. There is less of it here than in "Roma", but the characters are still having an unnatural amount of 'as you know' conversatio
The sequel to Roma and one my top expected non-sff novels of 2010 was even better than i expected. I liked Roma (A+) but its vignette like nature needed to cover 1000 years of history made it read like a collection of related stories than a novel.

Empire focuses on a much shorter period - about 125 years and covers four main characters, the male line of the ancient Pinarius family and ends on a note promising more

The heart of the novel and the best parts are the middle two, with the 3rd one Luciu
Apr 26, 2014 Layal rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2014
This book has been sitting on my shelf for ages now, and I have been avoiding it, partially because of its size and partially because I thought it would read more like a fact book. However, I was as wrong as ever, I have had an inkling to read it for a while now and I finally picked it up. I sped through this novel it was so captivating and I was completely engrossed in the story, I felt like I was learning more about ancient Rome, but not in the way of facts. Also, the book is sectioned into fo ...more
Rick Ludwig
Jul 30, 2011 Rick Ludwig rated it it was amazing
I have enjoyed reading Steven Saylor's excellent Gordianus, the Finder, series for years and was interested in how well he could transfer his excellent writing to an epic novel. He proved that he could do this very well in the fascinating "Roma" a few years ago, and I was looking forward to the next chapter in this saga of the Pinarius clan. WIth "Empire" Saylor has really hit his stride. I really enjoyed reading this and hope that he will continue this saga through the next series of centuries ...more
Feb 22, 2011 Phil rated it really liked it
This book, second in the set, moves into the age of the Emperors. It is loosely based on Suetonius and Tacitus. The family of the Potitii is apparently extinct but its bloodline survives in the Pinarii, who now pass the fascinum from generation to generation. The stories are much more sharply drawn and I liked this book better than the first. This suggests that Saylor is far more highly reliant on his source material than would seem to be apparent. Suetonius is certainly a more lively read than ...more
Lance McMurchy
This is a great book. It is better than the first book, Roma. Despite the long period of time the book covers, it still has a flow to it. It also includes many of the historians of the time. The highlights of the book, are the lowlights of the Roman Empire during the Empire period (0-150 AD); this being Nero, Caligula and Domitian. Saylor is able to make their madness and atrocities come alive. The unfortunate thing about the book is that it had to come to an end. And for a book that has near 70 ...more
Tammie Painter
Dec 16, 2012 Tammie Painter rated it liked it
Nowhere near as good as Roma. I was looking forward to this book but found it much too long with long stretches of the book that just felt pointless.
Mar 15, 2017 Susanna rated it it was ok
There is a fundamental rule of good story-telling: show, don't tell. Unfortunately Steven Saylor decided to ignore it and make the novel part history book, part abstract, and completely boring. There are also some obvious mistakes to be found in it. Vestal virgins did not, for instance, have short hair but elaborate hair-styles that have been very well researched. And I don't agree with Saylor's
opinion that a novel set in imperial Rome is innately more boring than one set in republican times be
Brian Mikołajczyk
The awesome continuation of the Pinarii family, a patrician family in the Roman Empire, whose closeness to the emperors gave them a glimpse of history. This tale starts with the end of Augustus's reign to the start of Antoninus Pius's reign. A very awesome historical fiction indeed.
Jason Golomb
Jul 31, 2010 Jason Golomb rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 02, 2017 William rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ancient-world
I particularly liked this one because it covered the times of Trajan and Hadrian -- harder to find in fiction centered on ancient Rome.
Faith Justice
I received an early review copy of this book through Library Thing. This is a condensed version of a review posted on my blog.

Empire continues the story of the Pinarius family chronicled in Steven Saylor's earlier novel Roma which followed the aristocratic family from the founding of Rome through the Republican years. Empire picks up at the end of Augustus' reign and concludes at the end of Hadrian's, covering about 130 years and four generations of Pinarii. Saylor sets himself a Herculean task
Simon Mcleish
Originally published on my blog here in October 2011.

Why, when this is a sequel to Roma, is Empire given an English language title, rather than using, say, Imperium?

Empire follows on from the earlier novel, with a small gap (less than that between some of the individual chapters which make up the story). It describes the story of Rome from AD 14 to AD 141 - the years in which the Roman Empire became an established institution. Once again, the viewpoint characters are the various members of the (
Jul 08, 2010 Rachel rated it liked it
Shelves: 2014
This is the follow up to Saylor's novel Roma, which I also read and reviewed.

The author admits, in an afterword, that there were difficulties in writing Empire that weren't an issue in Roma. While the early Imperial Period is very well documented by contemporary authors, the writing is Emperor-centric and it is harder to delineate between the "heros and villains." This did make for a less lustrous, more cerebral read, but a good read nonetheless. As someone very familiar with the period and know
Lloyd Hughes
Dec 22, 2016 Lloyd Hughes rated it really liked it
As always, Mr Saylor makes you feel like you are there. He keeps the history simple and interesting. The post Augustus times are tumultuous and, for me, portentous and disturbing. 4 stars.
Fraser Malaney
Oct 11, 2016 Fraser Malaney rated it liked it
When it works, this collection of short stories works very well indeed. When it doesn't, it doesn't.

This addictive series features five generations of the Pinarri family; each of them memorable characters in their own right. Their struggle for survival under the madness and enlightenment of Rome's first emperors is absorbing.

But, and this is a big but, it is let down by awkward passages where conversation becomes forced. Conversation, character development and even the story often takes second p
J. Else
Jul 03, 2013 J. Else rated it really liked it
Saylor is able to accomplish something that I hope my own writing is able to do: He makes ordinary lives interesting. Many Roman novels focus on soldiers, gladiators, villainous deeds by the rulers. In this book, you are privy to dinner conversations, strolls through the cities, gatherings of friends. Its not an adventure-excitement type of plot, but its fascinating. Saylor's character's comments on the new fashion of men sporting beards, the ideal look of men (from strong Greek to more feminine ...more
Dylan Quarles
Dec 02, 2014 Dylan Quarles rated it liked it
Overall Steven Saylor is a pretty hamfisted story-teller. His use of exposition exclusively through conversation grows tiresome very quickly yet persists throughout the whole book. Many of the characters speak in a way that is more concerned with conveying information to us (the reader) than it is with sounding natural or realistic.

As for the story itself, I must admit that it is huge in scope and full of well researched historical info. However, it should be mentioned that the portion of Empir
Rafal Jasinski
Sep 22, 2013 Rafal Jasinski rated it it was ok
Drugi tom cyklu "Rzym" zapowiadał się na bardziej interesujący - przecież dzieje Cesarstwa, nietuzinkowe postaci kolejnych cezarów, unosząca się nad wszystkim atmosfera strachu, nieufności, często przemocy, okrucieństwa i zepsucia, wszystkie te elementy składać się powinny na historię emocjonującą i wstrząsającą. Tymczasem Saylor podszedł do wszelkich, mniej lub bardziej znanych, "rewelacji" w sposób nadzwyczaj asekuracyjny i dziwnie uładzony. Bardzo mi to przeszkadzało, w zestawieniu z niedawno ...more
I am curious about history, so I picked up this book at the bookstore.

I rather enjoyed reading this. The history of Rome, told through the eyes of various generations of this one family. It was interesting to get some brief snap shots and glimpses of life in Rome and the Roman Emperor during their reign. Infamous and famous emperors, this book definitely left me intrigued enough to further pursue information about some of the lesser known and the more widely known Emperors (like Nero, Claudius a
Beth Tognetti
Apr 06, 2016 Beth Tognetti rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2016
I loved Steven Saylor's "Sub Rosa" series with Gordianus so much that I read the first of this new series, "Roma" as soon as it came out. Was disappointed--too much history, not enough characterization for me. I swore I'd never read another of his books. When I recently ran across this second book in the series, enough time had passed that I forgot my earlier disappointment and grabbed it up. Read all 600 pages and was once again, disappointed. I think in trying to be historically accurate to th ...more
Feb 07, 2013 Papalodge rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Steven Saylor's novels are, for me, always an enjoyable read.
Empire, in particular, is more so.

(I even bought this book thanx to a very thughtful friend having presented me with a much appreciatedbirthday gift card.)

In that, although this is historical fiction (the emperor's are given personalities), you only need to google the name of the emporer and viola...a wealth of information erupts.

Lifespans of the emperors span from 10 B.C. thru A.D 180, its all there for your enjoyment. Steven even had
Sep 20, 2011 Naomi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Empire begins where Roma left off; only now it is the age of the Caesars and not the Rupublic. The family of the Pinarii are still the focal point, but it centers around can they maintain a good image and in the good graces of the ruling Caesar without losing all they own, such as family honor, estates, slaves and personal integrity. Saylor does well at writing about the lives of the Caesars, but the thing that really made it hard to read was the fact that each Caesar, especially from Nero on, l ...more
Dec 19, 2010 David rated it really liked it
With Empire, Steven Saylor completes his dual volume historical fictional account of the rise and flourishing period of the Roman Empire. The first book of the pair, Roma, brings the reader up to about 20 AD and Empire continues for another 120 years finishing with the emperor Hadrian, of Hadrian’s wall fame. In Empire there is less of the development of Roman Society and more of the trials and tribulations of the people dealing with good, bad and just crazy rulers. Empire should not be read unt ...more
Jan 04, 2013 Peter rated it it was amazing
A gifted author of historical fiction allows the reader to revisit times gone by and see them “first-hand” through the eyes of the characters he creates.

Steven Saylor does this exceptionally well in this book. You are taken back to re-visit the opening games at the Flavian Amphitheatre (Colosseum), experience the terror of the great fire of Rome during the times of Nero, sit in a garden in Rome and see the ash falling from Mount Vesuvius whilst Pompeii was being destroyed - all the whilst seeing
Oct 08, 2011 Rob rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thought this book was much better than Roma, the first in Saylor's two part epic series about the history of Rome. It spanned a much shorter time period and focuses on the reign of various emperors. Included are some good descriptions of the amazing Roman architecture and construction, as well as considerable focus on gladiators and the Flavian amphitheatre.

Saylor simply follows one family, the Pinarii, and their imperial relationships. I actually liked this simple approach as you are able to
Tom Landry
Dec 04, 2010 Tom Landry rated it really liked it
I was having a hard time deciding whether to give this book three or four stars. I was reading it from the mindset of it being Roma part 2 which it basically is. What I noticed was that the individual stories went on for a long time. The first half of the book covered only two people. Well actually three but two were at the same time and only one of them was the dominant character. Roma had covered several different people/time periods by half way. Roma also covered a lot more of the development ...more
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Steven Saylor is the author of the long running Roma Sub Rosa series featuring Gordianus the Finder, as well as the New York Times bestselling novel, Roma and its follow-up, Empire. He has appeared as an on-air expert on Roman history and life on The History Channel.

Saylor was born in Texas and graduated with high honors from The University of Texas at Austin, where he studied history and class
More about Steven Saylor...

Other Books in the Series

Rome (2 books)
  • Roma (Roma, #1)

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“Bears?” Epaphroditus wrinkled his nose. “Everyone knows Prometheus was tormented by vultures. Every day they tore out his entrails, and every night he was miraculously healed, so that the ordeal was endlessly repeated.”
Martial laughed. “The trainer who can induce vultures to attack on command will be able to name any price! I suspect we’ll see a lot of bears today.”
“There were a great many other such tableaux. As Martial had predicted, bears featured prominently in most of them. A temple thief was made to reenact the role of the robber Laureolus, made famous by the ancient plays of Ennius and Naevius; he was nailed to a cross and then subjected to the attack of the bears. A freedman who had killed his former master was made to put on a Greek chlamys and go walking though a stage forest populated by cavorting satyrs and nymphs, like Orpheus lost in the woods; when one of the satyrs played a shrill tune on his pipes, the trees dispersed and the man was subject to an attack by bears. An arsonist was made to strap on wings in imitation of Daedalus, ascend a high platform, and then leap off; the wings actually carried him aloft for a short distance, a remarkable sight, until he plunged into an enclosure full of bears and was torn to pieces.” 1 likes
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