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(The Four Emperors #1)

4.33  ·  Rating details ·  63 ratings  ·  33 reviews
Debauchery. Depravity. Decadence.

Just everyday life at the imperial palace.

Whilst Emperor Nero plays with his new water organ and a cross-dressing eunuch, his wily secretary Epaphroditus manages affairs of state. But dissent and rebellion are growing across the empire, and Nero is soon to discover playtime is over.

Praetorian prefect Nymphidius Sabinus, disgusted by the mor
Paperback, New Version published by Karnac Books, 432 pages
Published June 22nd 2015 by Karnac Books (first published September 29th 2014)
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4.33  · 
Rating details
 ·  63 ratings  ·  33 reviews

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Feb 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
A breezy, light-hearted look at the last years of Nero's reign, this novel was a sort of "Upstairs, Downstairs" conception of those living and working in the palace. One of the Praetorian prefects, Nymphidius Sabinus, is the driving force for the final coup to dislodge Nero from his position, leading to Nero's suicide [admittedly assisted by his secretary, Epaphroditus.] The no-nonsense Nymphidius Sabinus is the de facto ruler in the interregnum until Galba should march in from Spain. There's a ...more
Feb 21, 2018 rated it liked it
A humorous romp through the events of AD68 that led to the downfall of Nero, who is seen here at his decadent worst or best, depending on your point of view. I particularly enjoyed how we follow events largely through an array of slaves and servants who have an awful lot to put up with, to put it mildly. This is probably a little too salacious and gossipy a style for me, but there are sections of it that I did enjoy. Full review to follow.
Paul Bennett
Jun 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
Depraved, deluded and plainly not playing with a full deck, Nero ruled the world mostly through his imperial staff. It is the staff that the author focuses on in this, the first part of the Year of Four Emperors. Her characters include Nero's personal secretary, the two Praetorian Prefects, the lowly messengers, the slaves and freedmen who made life possible in the palace complex. It is through their eyes and actions that we witness the downfall and overthrow of Nero. The author has given us an ...more
David Baird
Jun 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I’m a big fan of historical fiction so when I was offered a review copy of this book I was very excited to say the least.

This book focuses on Emperor Nero and his eventual death after the Praetorian prefect Nymphidius Sabinus decides he’s had enough of his behaviour and gets the Praetorian Guard to desert him and back Galba as Emperor.

The author decided to write this book from a number of different perspectives which made it a very interesting read. I think that’s probably the thing I liked the
John Bayliss
Jun 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
‘Debauchery. Depravity. Decadence’ promises the blurb and the book does not fail to deliver!
History is full of great stories, and often those stories are best told from the viewpoint of the ‘lesser people’ – the secretaries and servants, the wives and mistresses. In Palatine, LJ Trafford shows us the chaos of the final months of Emperor Nero’s reign through the eyes of an engaging cast of ‘lesser people’, such as the shy scribe Philo, the ambitious messenger boy Alex, and the wily ‘towel-holder’
Crystal King
Jun 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
What a fun (and often funny) romp through the last month or so of Caesar Nero's reign! Trafford's cast of slaves, women and soldiers that are Nero's undoing and responsible for Galba's rise are clever, colorful and endlessly interesting. The awkward but very good, Philo; the horrendous slave overseer that loves him; whip-wielding Mina; the scheming Sabinus; the drunk Tigellinus; the ever loyal secretary Epaphroditus and the extra fabulous Sporus. Keeping all these characters engaged and entwined ...more
Oct 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
Written in such a breezy style that the horrors don't always sink in right away...
Jan 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I adore this book. It's well written, interesting, and uniquely funny. It takes a genuine talent to breathe life into history, something this does effortlessly.

Each character has a distinctive voice, and the cast is diverse. Different perspectives are enjoyable and give a fascinating insight. I have to say, I feel some authors struggle writing men, but that wasn't an issue here; it was done exceptionally well, in fact.

Overall, incredible; I loved it. It was never boring, not even for a sentence
Scott Rowland
Mar 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Die is cast for a series.Review of palatine by LJ Trafford.
This is a fantastic book that takes you on a journey that you can visualize every bit from the decadent parties of Nero, The meetings of imperial officials, the various characters homes and much more. This book gives a brilliant insight into the complex government of the Roman Empire the various people that do most of the work for the emperor who are often forgotten such as Philo who is the assistant to Epaphroditus the private secr
Alex Gough
Aug 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The year 69AD is known as the Year of the Four Emperors, for the obvious reason that four different men were declared Emperor of the Rome that year. L. J. Trafford’s quadrilogy documents the end of Nero’s reign in AD 68 and the accession and downfall of the following three emperors, Galba, Otho and Vitellius, the latter of which was finally brought down by (spoiler but not really) Vespasian. The Four Emperor’s series follows the action through the eyes of some of the major players, and some fict ...more
Haven't read much historical fiction about ancient Rome which is why I was attracted to this book. Feel as if it is one of the more historically accurate works in this genre and so was enjoyable from that perspective. The choice to tell the story from multiple view points is interesting. However, it did result in the fact that I actually didn't care about any of them (apart from maybe Sporus, who is without parallel). Otherwise, they are all a tad forgettable. Character development could certain ...more
Pam Lecky
Jul 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I haven't found many books lately that I had to read in one sitting but this is one. This is definitely a 'shut the world out, settle down and escape' book. It was engaging from the start, the writing was wonderful and with that ingredient that seems to be a rare commodity these days - humour. Now I wouldn't be very up to speed on Roman history (pretty much all my knowledge coming from watching I Claudius!!) but thankfully there were names here I was familiar with and it has left me with a desir ...more
Jerry Landry
Oct 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018-reads, ebooks
Great fictional account of the fall of Nero and the beginning of the Year of Four Emperors. I heard about Trafford's Four Emperors series on a podcast that I listen to (Totalus Rankium) and thought that I'd give it a try. Very glad I did. Great characterization, intriguing plot, and it kept me interested from beginning to end. Look forward to reading book two in the series!
Bethany Stachowiak
Palatine: the four emperors series, book 1

At turns gossipy, informative, shocking, and sweet. I think L.J. Trafford has a tiny Suetonius sitting on her shoulder. And he's smiling beneficently. Time for the next installment! Highly recommended.
Apr 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Brilliant writing about a lively period of history, full of the back stabbing, raunchy and intriguing back ground story that hurtles you along, not for the faint hearted.
charles m redman
Excellent fun

A racy account of the end of Nero"s reign. Fun to read and paints a connvincing portrait of palace life. A promising start to the series.
Rosie Chapel
May 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an outstanding book. I love anything to do with ancient Roman history and LJ Trafford brings this very convoluted period alive with her first novel in the Four Emperors Series. The tale twists and turns as the intentions of those jockeying for power become clear. I loved the intrigue that went on behind the scenes. How those within the palace tried to retain some form of control over their lives, from the freedmen down to the slaves, as everything around them collapses into chaos, bringi ...more
Tabitha Ormiston-Smith
An historical novel set in a really interesting period is always a treat when it's well done, and Palatine certainly doesn't disappoint. Set immediately before the Year of the Four Emperors, the book chronicles the events leading up to the unrest that resulted in that turbulent year.

As an historical novel it's interesting, but it is purely as a novel that this work really shines. Trafford, avoiding the mistake common to so many tyros of historical fiction, does not confine her cast of characters
Mary Rocco
I liked the story in this book, but the writing is so chock full or egregious errors that it's like trying to read a novel written in Pig Latin. The wrong spelling has been used for every homonym (and there are so many!). There are tons of malaprops. The text spells "assess" as "access." There are so many wrong words, it makes me wonder how even a bad writer could make that many mistakes per page even if mistakes were her goal. There are lots of extra words and extra letters just tossed in throu ...more
Tabitha Ormiston-Smith
Jun 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
An historical novel set in a really interesting period is always a treat when it's well done, and Palatine certainly doesn't disappoint. Set immediately before the Year of the Four Emperors, the book chronicles the events leading up to the unrest that resulted in that turbulent year.

As an historical novel it's interesting, but it is purely as a novel that this work really shines. Trafford, avoiding the mistake common to so many tyros of historical fiction, does not confine her cast of characters
Mandy Lee
Jun 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I don't normally read historical fiction, but I absolutely loved this. I got thoroughly involved with all of the characters and couldn't put it down. Viewing the events through the eyes of the slaves certainly brought ancient Rome to life for me and I can't wait for the next instalment. I've lent my copy to my sister so I'm struggling to remember names, but I'm now strangely attached to the slave overseer who's madly in love with Philo. And, of course, I want to know what happens next with Sporu ...more
Nov 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars
Witty, great characters, authentic - the brutality and the debauchery of life in Nero's palace come to life in Book I of Trafford's The Four Emperors series.

All right - I admit I am not an expert on Ancient Rome, but Palatine feels authentic. The author did her job, taking me back in time and showing me the incredible opulence of Rome. She provided a picture of the daily lives of the ruling class and of freedmen and of slaves. She made me feel - love, hate, empathy, disgust. That is wha
Jul 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone interested in historical fiction and the Roman era
Recommended to Marion by: goodreads giveaway
I received this book in a Goodreads giveaway from the author and am so glad I won it! This book was a fantastic read that I could not put down.

This story gave great insight into how Rome operated and who actually ran Rome (the slaves). The flow and character descriptions were excellent and I will be continuing with this wonderful series as I need to know what happens next.
L.J. Trafford
Aug 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
Author's Note:
Palatine was released by Karnac Books in June 2015. It had undergone a full copy edit and several proof readings before being released.
Some of the reviews below pertain to the earlier, self published version, which did indeed include some errors (all my own).
LJ Trafford
Aug 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
This book was a pleasant surprise It is easy to read and enjoyable. It accomplishes this while maintaining a decent hold on the history of the time period. The characters are truly human and believable. The focus on slaves, freedmen and other servants in the palace makes for an interesting and unique take on the events.
Michael Cayley
Aug 07, 2016 rated it it was ok
A romp set at the end of the reign of the Emperor Nero, centred mainly on his court and palace. It did not come off for me. The louche sexual depravity was overdone, as were the attempts at a comic tone. Both became tedious as the book went on. This seemed to me Roman history in the style of a greatly overextended Carry On film.
Jack Bates
Jun 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is pacey, interesting, and fun. If you're interested in Rome, the Year of the Four Emperors is pretty fascinating. Trafford brings the occupants of Nero's palace to life and you might even feel a bit sorry for Nero, objectionable creature though he is.
Feb 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Brilliant! I never thought if read a book about Rome under the Romans but it was so well written, funny and well paced that I loved it. The characters are brilliantly drawn. I loved the portrayal of Nero and Sporus. I loved the uptight Sabinus too and even cried at the end!
Jul 22, 2015 marked it as shelved-not-read
I've received the book as part of goodreads giveaway.
Will post my review once I 'm done with the book.
Ean Kewley
Mar 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
What can I say? An absolutely brilliant book! Loved the characterisation, loved the odd bits of humour, loved the writing style (very easy to read). I'd give this 6 stars out of five. Read it, folks!
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L. J. Trafford worked as a tour guide, after gaining a BA Hons in ancient history. This experience was a perfect introduction to writing, involving as it did the need for entertainment and a hefty amount of invention (it’s how she got tips!). She now works in London doing something whizzy with databases.

Other books in the series

The Four Emperors (4 books)
  • Galba's Men (The Four Emperors #2)
  • Otho's Regret (The Four Emperors #3)
  • Vitellius' Feast (The Four Emperors #4)
“Looking through his fingers he saw Nero standing still, pale and shaking. “Husband?” Nero silently pointed to the door. Sporus stuck his head into the corridor, looking one way and then the next. He was going to turn back and ask Nero what had frightened him so, when he spotted what it was. Or rather what it wasn't. There were no Praetorian guards. Not one.” 1 likes
“Nero's passions were so numerous it was impossible to keep track of them all.” 0 likes
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