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(The Damned Emperors #1)

3.90  ·  Rating details ·  551 ratings  ·  89 reviews
Caligula: loving brother, reluctant ruler and tortured soul.

The five children of Germanicus are cursed from birth. Father: believed poisoned by the Emperor Tiberius over the imperial succession. Mother and two brothers arrested and starved to death by Tiberius. One sister married off to an abusive husband. Only two are left: Caligula, in line for the imperial throne, and h
ebook, 360 pages
Published March 8th 2018 by Orion Publishing Group
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Asteropê It is already, but doesn't appear to be available in the US at the moment. If you are in the UK you can get it though:…moreIt is already, but doesn't appear to be available in the US at the moment. If you are in the UK you can get it though:
The author is in the UK, so I guess rolling it out there first makes sense. Hopefully the US will get the ebook soon. (less)

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I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

2.5 rounded up.

This is not my usual genre of history. I know little beyond the widely known in terms of Roman history. However, I thought I’d give this a go and see if it piqued an interest. Unfortunately it didn’t.

Is Caligula really the cruel, sadistic tyrant he’s often portrayed as? Or is there more to the man than what history chooses to tell? Told by his sister Lavilla, we see the fun loving boy develop into the calculating m
Our narrator is Livilla, sister of Caligula, meaning the reader gets an insider’s perspective on Caligula as brother, son, confidante, protector but also as cruel and tyrannical ruler. At times, it did seem a bit too convenient that Livilla managed to be in the right place at the right time to overhear important conversations but, on the other hand, it’s reasonable that her position in the imperial family would have given her freedoms not available to other women.

What the author does superbly
A powerful and disturbing, yet refreshing, portrait of Caligula as seen through the eyes of his youngest sister. I was gripped and haunted by this book. Nightmares followed. These people felt very real indeed.

Keith Currie
Dec 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
A Thing of Crimson Darkness

More than half a century ago, a Classical scholar named JPVD Balsdon wrote a short book entitled, The Emperor Gaius. This title made a statement: not Caligula, a childish nickname, but the man’s real name, Gaius Julius Caesar. Balsdon proceeded to debunk the received history of the emperor’s reign, horses made consul, armies ordered to pick up shells in a war against the god of the sea, ridiculous bridges built across bays as examples of supreme arrogance and advanced
Reeda Booke
I thought this was a very believable and refreshing way to portray the life of one of the most reviled emperors that ruled Rome. It was a sad look into his life through the eyes of one of his sisters, Livilla, and the events that led to his decent into cruelty and madness. Very well done.

5 stars and a favorite and highly recommended for historical fiction fans.
I will definitely be reading more from this author.
Paul Bennett
Dec 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I must confess at the outset that the portrayal of Caligula that is permanently etched in my mind is John Hurt's magnificent, raving lunatic character in I, Claudius.  Having said that, I must also confess that if any author could convince me otherwise, it would be Simon Turney.  As proof of that I submit his Gaius Julius Caesar from the Marius Mules series, his Caesar is much more convincing than say, Colleen McCullough's, and I loved the way her Caesar turned out.  Told through the person of h ...more
Liv | Books to Liv by
Rating: 2.75 stars
HEA: (view spoiler)

This book was quite boring.
The prose wasn't particularly entertaining, but I did appreciate Caligula's characterisation.
It was the backbone of the entire work.

What I found extremely annoying was that constant info-dump tendency scattered (but hardly hidden) throughout the chapters.
That tendency that tried to teach me about Roman history... in the hope I wouldn't notice?
I'm a historian and as a consequence, all those well-constructed d
Marcia Leben
I was so looking forward to this one, but it wasn't as good as I'd hoped.

'Caligula' is written in such a way that makes it distant, dry and boring. The big problem is that Caligula's sister Livilla narrates and she is not a great character. She's not very clever, witty, manipulative, or just interesting in any way. A very dull and passive character with a dull way of retelling events and forever adoring her brother. If Caligula himself could have at least partly narrated, I think it would have
Nov 26, 2018 rated it liked it
Perfect extra reading for ancient history students with exploration of Julio-Claudian dynasty and Agrippina's family. The perspective of Livilla gave unconventional insights into Caligula's reign but failed to challenge the patriarchal stereotypes surrounding Agrippina. ...more
Jul 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An interesting perspective as to how/why Caligula ended up the way he did. Through the eyes of one of his sisters, we can sympathise with him as a child and see the ever growing changes that leads the child nicknamed 'little boots' to fill much larger boots as he 'ends up' emperor. ...more
Robin Carter
Jan 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing

As always full honest disclosure, Simon is an author i have known and reviewed for many years, and is someone i class as a very good friend, that said he knows if he turns out a stinker i’m going to tell him.

In Caligula i hoped for not another take on the madness and depravity of an emperor, and you know what Simon delivered, this is a very new and unique look at this emperor. Take everything you have thought and heard and read about the mad youthful emperor and sit it on a shelf, sit back
Renita D'Silva
Mar 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Brilliantly researched and well written. I was transported.
The Idle Woman
Feb 01, 2018 rated it liked it
Simon Turney (usually billed as S.J.A. Turney) has built up quite a following with his e-books set in the Roman army, especially the Marius’ Mules series. They’ve been at the edge of my consciousness for a while, so I welcomed the chance to have a taster of Turney’s writing via this new novel. It’s the first in a series which will focus on the deliciously colourful emperors of the Julio-Claudian dynasty. In tackling Caligula, however, Turney takes the same approach that Margaret George did with ...more
Jan 11, 2020 rated it it was ok
I might have enjoyed this story more if not for the narrator, Livilla. She serves nothing more than a lens to view Calligula, and she has no arc except for her absurd devotion to family. It's said in the author's note that she was chosen as a sympathetic character, but her POV was so dull I found myself wishing the story was told from her sister Agrippina's POV instead, who seemed to be much more interesting, and less passive. ...more
Daniel Kukwa
Jan 22, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: general-lit
Fascinating stuff; an alternative take on the Emperor Caligula that will take everything you thought you knew about the most infamous ruler of Rome and turn it on its ear. This is very much the "anti-I, Claudius"...and it will leave many interesting questions floating in your thoughts after you have finished it. ...more
Sep 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I can't believe it took me this long to read this book. The beginning was a little slow and it took me a couple chapters to get into it but the story took a turn for the better and I couldn't put it down. I love the savage Roman empire. This book really delved into the power struggles and the plots that people took up to kill the corrupted emporers. I can't wait to read Commodus. ...more
Helen Carolan
May 21, 2018 rated it did not like it
Very disappointed with this one. Ancient rome is a time I'm not too familiar with and this was a chance to start putting that right. Caligula is certainly one of the most maligned emperors in history, but was he really as bad as all that. Here his story is told by his closest sister Livia. Despite her best efforts this book never got going.Boring and a bit long winded. ...more
Joseph - Relax And Read Reviews
A great read following the life of one of Rome's most infamous emperors, from his early childhood to his untimely murder. But was Caligula really as 'cruel' and 'crazy' as the ancient writings that have reached us across so many centuries suggest? Or was he purposefully shown in such a bad light by the ancient scholars?

In this book, the author sheds an interesting new light on Caligula's life, from the point of view of his youngest sister, Drusilla. Through her eyes, we see this young man grow
Daniel Kelly
Oct 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Plausible reality

Written from a window seat view of his sister watching his life unfold I was pleasantly surprised to find that I enjoyed this much more than I usually do for a second person view. Simon pulls it of nicely giving a more sympathetic view of Caligula than we are used to seeing from a sister who obviously loves her family. Well conceived, well written, well executed. Well done Simon
Ian Thomson
May 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I finished Caligula over a week ago and have been procrastinating about writing a review since then for the simple reason that Turney’s novel is so tightly plotted and psychologically coherent that it is hard to deal with particular events in detail without being guilty of throwing up spoilers - and everybody hates a spoiler.
Anybody with an interest in the Roman Emperors at all will know something about Caligula, Rome’s third emperor and son of the golden boy, Germanicus. They will know the sto
Austin Grant
Jul 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shedding light on one of the most villainized rulers of history.

Prior to reading Caligula, I was, like many others, only knowledgeable of the popular conception of the infamous emperor, as the madman who ruined Rome and laid the foundations for the downfall and destruction of it's first imperial dynasty. After reading Turney's novel, however, my perspective shifted completely.
Turney presents Caligula's decline and downfall as a logical progression of events, both political and familial. Caligu
Deborah Foulkes
Apr 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
From the first page, I was truly hooked. I admit that out of all the Roman Emperors Caligula is one I know very little about, but Turney's writing jogged my memory of what I did know. When it comes to Historical Fiction I can be a bit of a history snob who gets frustrated when such are not researched properly, but it was clear very quickly that Turney had done his homework. His narrative was descriptive to the point where I felt I was there with the characters.
Caligula's story is told from the
Ruth Harwood
Jul 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Loved this, especially as it was a documentary on Caligula which first interested me in History, and prompted me to get my 2:1 Hons degree in History! Turney paints a picture of a man tortured his whole life by power and the fear of those who weild it - from the loss of his Mother and two elder brothers to the machinations of an ambitious Sejanus, to the betrayal of his nearest and dearest, which breaks him down to the madman written about by Suetonius and other sources. It explains away rumour, ...more
Lexie Neumann
Jan 14, 2019 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Megan Jones
Sep 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Rome 37AD, the emperor is dying. No-one knows how long he has left. The power struggle has begun. When the ailing Tiberius thrusts Caligula's family into the imperial succession in a bid to restore order, he will change the fate of the empire and create one of history's most infamous tyrants, Caligula. But was he really a monster? Let Livilla, Caligula's youngest sister and confidante, tell you what really happened. 
Firstly, let me get my one negative out of the way, the only reason I did not gi
Dec 16, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Caligula was not a very enjoyable read for me - it felt like a very long, plodding read that in the end achieved no redemption for the emperor and much more disdain for his family. Although the blurb rather sounded like it was a secret look into the internal workings and the factors that drove Caligula, having the story told from the point of view of his drippy sister ruined any chance that it might have been interesting.

Livilla is a character that has been written solely for telling Gaius' tale
Brook Allen
Jun 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Turney has certainly transformed the story of Caligula, overriding the stereotypical Robert Graves and cinematic examples. His ability to read between the lines of Suetonius, Cassius Dio, and Herodian are impressive, and even those individuals skeptical at this particular portrayal will admire the research and excellent delving into ancient sources that mark Turney as a scholar.

At the book’s heart is Livilla, the emperor’s sister and narrator. Livilla is a woman who fiercely lives for family, an
Ry Herman
Well, everyone knows Caligula was a raving lunatic. What this book presupposes is -- what if he wasn't? (Or at least, not completely; some of the things he does are still pretty nuts, but he's not at all psychotic or delusional in this novel.) It's not at all an unreasonable approach; most of the "historical" evidence for Caligula's insanity came long after his death from authors like Suetonius, who was somewhat less reliable than a Hollywood gossip columnist. So it's entirely plausible that Cal ...more
Blair Hodgkinson
This biographical novel of Caligula partly reforms the reputation of the notorious emperor. Viewed through the eyes of Caligula's sister, Livilla, he is portrayed from his boyhood in the reign of terror of Tiberius and the police state of Sejanus to power in his own right. Caligula's bloodline marks him as either an heir or a threat to the paranoid old emperor's power and the youth, a bit of a prodigy, bravely calculates a safe route through the dangers that have already consumed his mother and ...more
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Alternate publishing name for author S.J.A. Turney ...more

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