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The First Man in Rome

(Gospodari Rima #1 (Part 1 of 3))

4.11  ·  Rating details ·  19,184 ratings  ·  901 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 September 28th 1990)
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Average rating 4.11  · 
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 ·  19,184 ratings  ·  901 reviews

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Start your review of The First Man in Rome (Masters of Rome, #1)
Oct 16, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who likes the bad guys, Roman history newbs and fans
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
Ashley Daviau
Feb 07, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is one hell of a monster of a book. Not only because of the page count, which is over 800 pages, but because of the sheer volume of information that you’re provided with. Even though I was thoroughly interested by the subject matter, it did get to be a bit overwhelming at times because of the amount of names and storylines. It was a bit difficult to keep track of sometimes. But I did thoroughly enjoy it despite that, I just needed to put it down sometimes and let my brain absorb. What I enj ...more
Allison (The Allure of Books)
Feb 19, 2009 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 not
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 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)
Marilyn Ware
Mar 01, 2008 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!
Jul 21, 2008 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
Roman Clodia
Oct 16, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
McCullough is superb on ancient Rome and genuinely does bring it to life without resorting to any spurious and trite fictional claims that the Romans were just like us. She has read all the sources and sticks to them, simply fleshing out the characters and events so that they make narrative sense. This isn't by any means an easy read, since she delves into the intricacies of Senate debates and internal politics, but it is quite unlike anything else that has been published on Rome.

This is the fir
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 ...more
Jun 06, 2008 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
Jun 05, 2009 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
Mark Porton
Apr 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, 5-stars
The First Man in Rome (Masters of Rome Book 1), by Colleen McCullough is an absolute masterpiece. Sometimes we forget the greatest treasures we have are closest to home. McCullough was born in New South Wales, Australia, and comes from a medical background. Interestingly, she lived on Norfolk Island, a tiny Australian Island in the South Pacific. This is where she died several years ago. I have paid scant regard to McCullough over the past few decades, I recall such works as Tim (early Mel Gibso ...more
This wasn't originally on my list, but I've now made it my March read for my year-long Tome Topple challenge, because... #yolo.

This book is slow, highly-political, extremely intense, and loooooong. It’s clearly not for everyone. But I, for one, loved it.

Keep in mind that I went into this novel knowing nothing about this period of Rome – the rise of the general Gaius Marius, who was consul a record seven times – with back-to-back terms, and even some performed in absentia. Keep in mind that ther
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
Feb 25, 2009 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
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 22, 2012 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
May 30, 2017 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.
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
Ty Parsons
Sep 23, 2012 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
Sep 06, 2010 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
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!
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
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

This was, to put not too fine a point on it, bloody marvelous. I'll say more about it soon but for now, that will do.

Edit: received a physical copy of this for Christmas and the maps... Oh, the maps! I definitely must get physical copies of the rest of this series!
Aug 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love this series. It is so historically accurate yet fictional. McCullough is gifted in her making Rome come alive
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
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 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
Astounding. What the hell? Is it possible to write historical fiction like this? The level of immersion you can get with McCullough's writing is incredible. Every single stroke of the brush paints another corner of the world and seamlessly points to its following stroke. It's almost like poetry, the way colours are described, streets are walked through, houses are decorated, characters are vivisected and speech is pulled taught over the faces of actual historical characters. I cannot wait to con ...more
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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

Other books in the series

Gospodari Rima (1 - 10 of 18 books)
  • The Grass Crown (Masters of Rome, #2)
  • Fortune's Favorites (Masters of Rome, #3)
  • Venac od trave - Lav sa istoka (Gospodari Rima #2.1)
  • Venac od trave - Smaragdna lupa (Gospodari Rima #2.2)
  • Venac od trave - Aurelijine suze (Gospodari Rima #2.3)
  • Fortunini miljenici - Predstava za gospodara (Gospodari Rima #3.1)
  • Fortunini miljenici - Nekrunisani kralj
  • Fortunini miljenici - Moćnici i ratnici (Gospodari Rima #3.3)
  • Cezarove žene - Ljubavnica hladnog srca (Gospodari Rima #4.1)
  • Cezarove žene - Jedina ljubav (Gospodari Rima #4.2)

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