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The Splendor Before the Dark (Nero, #2)
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The Splendor Before the Dark

(Nero #2)

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  778 ratings  ·  139 reviews
Ascending to the throne was only the beginning... Now Margaret George, the author of The Confessions of Young Nero, weaves a web of politics and passion, as ancient Rome's most infamous emperor cements his place in history.

With the beautiful and cunning Poppaea at his side, Nero Augustus commands the Roman empire, ushering in an unprecedented era of artistic and cultural s
Hardcover, 528 pages
Published November 6th 2018 by Berkley Pub Group
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Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
5 stars for the outstanding storytelling by Margaret George! Wow! ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

Historical fiction is one of my favorites, but until the last month, Margaret George, a prolific author in this genre, was new-to-me. No longer because after reading and enjoying The Confessions of Young Nero, part one of this duology, I was prepared to be mesmerized and astounded with the second half of Nero’s story told through George’s impeccable research.

I had a history teacher in high school who held a doctora
I'm not sure what happened between this novel and the first, but somewhere along the way, my interest disappeared completely. It's a shame, because I feel like this could have been a strong book... if an actual plot existed, that is.

Nero is the emperor famous for supposedly standing on a hill playing music while watching Rome burn (which isn't actually true), and throughout her duology George aims to present a more redeeming, sympathetic portrait of the emperor. She does mostly succeed in this,
Janelle Janson
Many thanks to Berkley Publishing for my free copy of THE SPLENDOR BEFORE THE DARK by Margaret George - all opinions are my own.

Margaret George is my favorite historical fiction writer because her novels are meticulously researched and even though her page counts are high, there is never a slow or dull moment in her books. I read the first book in this duology, CONFESSIONS OF A YOUNG NERO, and no surprise, it was excellent. When I saw this book was coming out, I jumped at the chance to read it
The Lit Bitch
Nov 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When I was a kid, I was fascinated by all things Rome. I watched every episode about Rome and the emperors on History channel and my favorites were always on the crazy ones.

The ancient world is a fascinating place. People are trying to form a civilized people and state while others are trying to conquer new territories and at the height of it’s power, Rome was the republic that everyone modeled their empires on.

One of the emperors that always seemed to capture my interest was Nero and like any m
I loved the Confessions of Young Nero and now Margaret George (one of my favourite authors) completes Nero's incredible story. Mostly told by Nero himself, this is not Nero as tradition (and Hollywood) would have him and it's a fascinating portrait of what absolute power can do to a young man who'd really much rather race chariots and compose heroic verse. A wonderful, engrossing read. Review to follow shortly on For Winter Nights. ...more
Nov 09, 2019 rated it it was ok
The first book was excellent.This one's slooow,too long,repetitive,and overly descriptive.I've read all the author's books,and this is the only one below-way below-par.
The best part is the afterword.
Aug 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: historical
Following The Confessions of Young Nero, Margaret George concludes her tale of Emperor Nero with an insightful and passionate novel of the final four years of Nero’s life. On every dimension – superb writing, feeling immersed in time and place, characters both heroic and human, authenticity, and compelling plot – The Splendor Before the Dark is a winner.

Politics and power. Throughout the novel, these two are tangled in an intricate dance where one false step can lead to tragic consequences. Desp
Nov 20, 2018 rated it it was ok
This author and I are just not compatible. I should have known better than to try this book since I didn’t manage to get through the author’s first book about Nero. Unfortunately, I just don’t enjoy her writing style and the same factors that bothered me in the first book still bothered me. The first person narration leads to a lot of telling rather than showing. The author obviously did a lot of research, but the mix of extensive physical descriptions and imagined feelings and conversations did ...more
Ruth Harwood
Jan 20, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A great book from a great author - I know that before I picked it up, so it was no surprise I really enjoyed this! Having read her diary of a young Nero previously, this continuation realistically portrays this much-maligned emperor and his much-discussed 'evils' as nothing more than rumour and misunderstanding, as well as showing the man beneath, and how, had he been born today, would have been seen more as the musical Emperor than the evil emperor. Well-researched (I know, I've studied Nero my ...more
Aug 09, 2019 rated it liked it
Covering the years from the Great Fire of Rome until the rule of Domitian. Her positive conception of Nero made me uncomfortable. Yes, I knew he put in reforms as to the city layout after the Great Fire but fighting the fire himself? I thought that OTT. But the writing style kept me interested all through.
Viviane Crystal
Nov 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Passion takes precedence over politics, at least initially, in Margaret George’s brilliant follow-up novel to The Confessions of Young Nero. The story begins with the infamous fire that destroyed almost all of Rome, a fire Nero helps to put out. He helps dig out victims and console those who lost everything. However, the rumors then begin that Nero himself set the fires. He does nothing until he realizes that unless he finds a scapegoat his reign will end. And so the Christians become the easy t ...more
Sep 17, 2019 rated it it was ok
I think I liked the first volume a bit more than this; it may have been because Agrippina's Voldemort to Nero's Harry Potter was a more compelling story arc. This one starts well. Rome is burning, and Nero hotfoots it (sorry) back to the City. While milling around the fire, as one does, he spots what appear to be Christians throwing torches into as yet untouched buildings. It does not end well for the nascent religion's Roman residents.

After the fire, Nero wanders around plotting a rebuild. The
Meg - A Bookish Affair
"The Splendor Before the Dark" is the second book in Margaret George's duology about Roman Emperor Nero. It also is one of my most eagerly anticipated releases for 2018. I loved the first book and couldn't wait to dive into this one. It was well worth the wait and as this book shows, there is a good reason that Nero's name is still so well known out of all of the other Roman emperors.

Although this book can definitely work as a standalone, I suggest you go back and read "The Confessions of Young
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This book picked up right where the previous book in Margaret George’s Nero series (duology would be a better term) left off. Jumping right into the thick of things, Nero has just learned about the fire sweeping through Rome. He rushes back, determined to do anything he can to stop it. He was in the middle of the efforts to stop the Great Fire, though later he would fall victim to rumors that he started the fire himself to make room for his Golden House, or, infamously, that
Oct 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Another cracker from Margaret George, as she does what she does best and that is taking famous (or infamous) figures from history and making them so believable, so relatable and so human. As with her Henry VIII novel there are very sad moments, very tense moments and some joyous and genuinely humorous moments.

The other thing that I loved about this book was that it challenged a lot of the rumours and indeed outright myths surrounding Nero. Given that most of what we know of the man was written
It's probably unfortunate that I didn't read the first volume in this series, as it might have changed my impression of Nero. But just going from this, I found him surprisingly sympathetic, and I was pleased to see that new research has shown he didn't fiddle while Rome burned (no fiddles yet, for one thing, not for another 800 years). A little fake news culled from gossip in the distant past. (How little things have changed) Interesting look at Nero the actor, musician, athlete, supporter of cu ...more
I awoke in the milky dawn, that opalescent hour outside time.

This is a continuation of The Confessions of Young Nero. The story covers the last few years of Nero's life.

Margaret George never ceases to astound me. I often feel that I am standing with the characters as I read. I enjoyed the different points of view that allow us to see Nero better. Nero is not portrayed as the crazed man known for murder and destruction. Instead, we get to see past the façade to a man that had ideas that were not
Chasity Gaines
Jan 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
George's masterful story telling pulls us back into Roman time of the Emperor Nero. An Emperor that excelled in many talents and spurned for his more Grecian ways. I felt sorry for this misunderstood man, whose childhood was one fraught with dangers as he was of royal lineage. He only wants to be a good Emperor to Rome and its many provinces.

A dreamer of grand things for Rome and who finds himself in a perilous situation as others plot to bring Nero down.

The Confessions of a Young Nero and The
Penny Cipolone
Mar 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Combined with the first book in this set, this is an absolute must read for anyone with an interest in Roman history. In this version, Nero tells his own story; and it is very different from that left to us by the only 3 Roman authors who also do this. George points out that Suetonius, Dio Cassius, and Tacitus all had a reason for writing as they do about the last of the Julio-Claudians. I enjoyed this book very much and highly recommend it.
Feb 10, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an intriguing story presented from the viewpoint of Nero himself but also with a few chapters that give a voice to those closest to him. The book sheds a different & perhaps less biased light on the character of Nero & his somewhat brief reign of Emperor -- there was sufficient plotline and detail and character development to make this a believable interpretation that focusses on his spell as the Ruler of Rome after the Republic was formed, and without being overly explanatory or justify ...more
Nov 19, 2018 rated it it was ok
It is now December in 2018. I have not been able to push myself to read this interpretation of Nero. It seems very false to me. There is little balance. And I don’t care for her style in these two Nero books. She has always been a favorite author of mine and I love the amount of research she does. But somehow, she no longer seems to sound like she is writing for adults in these Nero books, especially the second book. It reads like a book written for teenagers. I managed to get through the great ...more
Feb 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
As always with Margaret George, an epic read! These two books about Nero encouraged me to read and go to other sources about Nero. Margaret George said she hoped these books would give the reader a different opinion of Nero, a kinder one. For me, she accomplished that goal.
Jul 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What an amazing novel. More thoughts to follow.
Mar 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I have read book 1 and now have finished book 2 and all I have to say!!I gladly give this book a 5/5 as well.
Nicole Overmoyer
Nov 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Thanks to the publisher & NetGalley for the chance to read this book.
Nov 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
Humanizing Nero -- who'd have thought it would make such an interesting novel? ...more
Megan Jones
Nov 29, 2018 rated it liked it
With the beautiful and cunning Poppaea at his side, Nero Augustus commands the Roman Empire, ushering in an unprecedented era of artistic and cultural splendour. Although he has yet to produce an heir, his power is absolute. But in the tenth year of his reign, a terrifying prophecy comes to pass and a fire engulfs Rome, reducing entire swaths of the city to rubble. Rumours of Nero's complicity in the blaze start to sow unrest among the populace - and the politicians. For better or worse, Nero kn ...more
Oct 20, 2019 rated it it was ok
As with George's first Nero book, I felt rather underwhelmed by Nero himself and was more drawn to the women in his life (his wives Poppaea and Statilia, his first love Acte and the court poisoner Locusta). They gave much needed spark to an otherwise (and I hate to say it) dull narrative. Nero, for me, came across as a naive, featureless ruler which shouldn't have been the case considering all his artistic prowess and the larger than life personality bestowed on him by history (not to mention hi ...more
Crystal King
Jul 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The Splendor Before the Dark is the second of two novels that George wrote about Nero's life. While this novel can certainly stand on its own, I definitely recommend you read the first, The Confessions of Young Nero. George is a master when it comes to delivering complex nuanced characters, inviting us into their inner lives in a way that will leave its mark on your own memory and life. There are several schools of thought about Nero and how horrible he might have been in life, but many modern h ...more
Dec 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
Thank you to @Berkley and @NetGalley for providing me with a physical copy in exchange for my honest review.

I do not recall spending a lot of time learning about the Roman empire during my school days. If anyone asked me then the name of one emperor I would have looked lost and confused. UNTIL NOW! What I love the most about historical fiction is the ability to actually learn something. I now can name an emperor of the Roman empire and I actually know his story if I end up becoming engaged in a
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Margaret George is a rolling stone who has lived in many places, beginning her traveling at the age of four when her father joined the U.S. diplomatic service and was posted to a consulate in Taiwan. The family traveled on a freighter named after Ulysses' son Telemachus that took thirty days to reach Taiwan, where they spent two years. Following that they lived in Tel Aviv (right after the 1948 wa ...more

Other books in the series

Nero (2 books)
  • The Confessions of Young Nero (Nero, #1)

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