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The Kingdom of the Wicked
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The Kingdom of the Wicked

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  441 Ratings  ·  30 Reviews
A Roman saga, taking in the excesses of Tiberius, Caligula and Nero and an irreverent account of the early days of Christianity. Sadoc, a dying shipping clerk, sets down for future generations a tale of epic proportions: he is charged with recounting no less an event than the birth of Christianity.
Hardcover, 379 pages
Published January 1st 1985 by William Morrow & Company
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The novel covers about 40 years from the resurrection of Jesus Christ to the destruction of Pompeji, recounting the spread of the Christian faith against the backdrop of Roman Imperial history.

In a novel with this scope, one can’t complain that most the characters are somewhat flat, with the notable exceptions of the apostle Paul, the emperor Nero and few others. Being somewhat familiar with the Acts of the Apostles, for me it was great being told this story by a different voice, with some of th
Anthony Burgess is one helluva writer. This book I'm sure was hard to pull off, though I'm sure it was well within his akillset to achieve the literary masterpiece this book is. It chronicles the early years of Christianity against the backdrop of decadent rule by probably the most infamous Roman emperors ever, Tiberius, Caligua and Nero. it's very anti romantic, very decadent and at some point damn hard to swallow, but it's an awesome read.
Derek Bridge
Aug 07, 2011 rated it really liked it
I recently re-read "I, Claudius" (see my review) and was surprised at how little the supposed birth, death and resurrection of Christ figured, even though supposedly contemporaneous with the events described in Rome. Subsequently, the Apostles plus Saul/Paul, operating in the name of Christ, began to invent their religion and spread it to Imperial Rome, so perhaps the sequel, "Claudius the God", has more, and I shall re-read it.

In the meantime, I decided to re-read "Kingdom of the Wicked" by the
Vit Babenco
Apr 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“But, as is well known, literature ceases to be literature when it commits itself to moral uplift: it becomes moral philosophy or some such dull thing. Let us then, in the interest of allaying the boredom of this our life, agree to our complementary damnations. My damnation is, of course, greater than yours, since I am the initiator and you are merely the receptor of evil recordings. Moreover, you may throw this book into the fire if your disgust becomes too great; I am committed to writing it. ...more
Jul 25, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Irreverent, speculative and gripping, Burgess starts off with a muscular Jesus escaping crucifixion and heading for the proverbial hills. From there, it follows the apostles, as they spread their new faith, and Roman luminaries as they wallow in decadence as shadows fall over their Empire. I hope to reread this one someday, perhaps as a follow-up to a reading of King Jesus by Robert Graves.
Bryan Murphy
Oct 04, 2014 rated it liked it
This book is a useful antidote to the romantic view of ancient Rome, which it shows as a brutal place whose famed empire exported its brutality on a vast scale. This is set against a romantic view of the early Christian church: the victim that endures towards an inevitable triumph. The problem for the reader enduring this long, laborious though often fascinating narrative is to distinguish history from fantasy. Roman history is well documented; early Christian history far less so. Burgess has th ...more
Perry Whitford
Sep 30, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in 1 century A.D.
The bravery of the early Christians and the bloodthirsty barminess of the three "bad" emperors (Tiberius, Caligua and Nero) brought to life in marvelous cinemascope by the exuberant Burgess.

From the crucifixion of Jesus to the sack of Jerusalem via the journeys of Paul and the burning of Rome, this is a breathless read about a seminal, extraordinary time in the development of Western civilization.

For a fast-paced, entertaining ride through the tumultuous first century of Christianity, this is h
Jason Wilson
May 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A novelisation Of the acts of the apostles set against the wider background of Roman politics . One or two liberties are taken with both but this is enthralling and interesting in how it compares Christianity to contemporary faith cults . Refreshing too to hear familiar bible episodes described differently . The climax showing the destruction of Jerusalem is thrilling and the presence of historical figures such as Josephus and Seneca fascinating . The kingdom of light takes seed in the kingdom o ...more
Frank Jacobs
Despite the quality and wit of the writing and the illuminating insight into the cast and plot of early Christianity, this book has a number of glaring defects – the conversion of Saul/Paul is described only in passing, for example, one of several missed opportunities to explore the spiritual landscape of the times in greater detail.
Matt Payne
Sep 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A beautifully immersive and lively piece of historical narrative. This tells the tale of the first followers of Jesus after his "resurrection" and ascent up to "Heaven" (events which are non-magical in this telling... like tricks and manipulations by the charismatic Jesus).

Anthony Burgess is a really fun writer, and really thoughtful. Here he writes a long tale of passion, conflict, strategies, religions, ignorance, fear, hope, brutality... it's nice to see real, relatable human emotions put on
Jan 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
I was attracted by a review of the recently reprinted novels of Anthony Burgess. Though convinced that the time was ripe for his writing to come back into favour, the reviewer feared that their florid prose would not appeal to today's readers. Yet in the desert of modern fiction's routine stylistic minimalism, this was exactly what I thirsted for. When I discovered he had written historical novels, I had to read one.
"The Kingdom of the Wicked" is a lengthy retelling of the story of the first Chr
Sep 26, 2016 rated it liked it
First of all, full disclosure, I read this book solely because Gaius Petronius is one of my absolute favorite historical figures. Seeing as Tacitus only gave us a handful of paragraphs about him, and the Satyricon is a fragmented mess, I sometimes go looking for other books about him. I did think the portrayal here was interesting. He reminded me quite a bit of Lord Henry from Dorian Gray (in philosophy and personality).

This book was well-written and I liked a lot of the characters, especially L
Stuart Field
Aug 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing
What a fabulous book. Written by a lapsed Catholic and the writer of A Clockwork Orange this is a controversial, unsentimental and original take on the Acts of the Apostles and the Roman Empire. Burgess presents a St. Paul who is intelligent, determined and ruthless and a St. Peter that is provincial and all too human. We see a whole series of Roman emperors murder, rape and torture and their deaths.

Burgess knows his history and knows theology. Whether Jew, Christian or atheist you will be chal
Mar 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
Another book where Anthony Burgess displays his love of words and general erudition. Its a bit like 'Monty Python and the Holy Grail' meets the 'Satyricon', with solid lashings of Hebrew, Roman and early Christian history and theology. Burgess's description of the death by stoning of Stephen shows he has some degree of appreciation of the plight of the early Christians in Jerusalem, as the gentile ones struggled against the Hebrew ones over such questions as whether or not new Christians needed ...more
Apr 10, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: creators of Deadwood.
Jesus' story and of that of his faith, through the mind of a dirty dead man. Think gritty in-your-face melodrama, like the HBO series Deadwood, only based from the time of Jesus' resurrection, to the burning of Pompeii. Actually follows the disciples of Jesus on their journey to spread the Christian faith throughout the Roman empire. Much violence and savagery will occur. Also follows the path of the Roman Cesars in all their excess and eminent demise. I haven't seen the HBO Rome series, but I t ...more
John Mcpheat
Jul 20, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this (from the library) 25+ years ago and enjoyed it enough that when, 10 or so years later, I found it in a second hand bookshop I bought it. I've been reading through Acts and thought this might be a good time for a re-read. It did take me a long time to get into it, but by the end I quite enjoyed it (not sure that 'enjoy' is quite the right word for such a grim tale!)
Jul 21, 2009 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: would not recommend
Recommended to Michael by: Have it in a collection
Set in the time after the Crucifiction, the Apostles set out to spread the Gospel. They argue about what is and what is not permissable in their actions as they face the opposition of the rabbinical court in Jerusalem, a number of mad emperors in Rome and pagan beliefs throughout the empire.

Difficult to read. Many characters and slow action.
John Bentley
Jun 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
Burgess is a master of all that makes human life. Power, politics and passion.
He omits nothing nor accentuates anything. Dealing only reality in which he knows truth is stranger than fiction. No new author can write of humanity without reading Burgess.
Jack Bootjesus
Dec 06, 2015 rated it liked it
Despite the book being entertaining, I couldn't help feeling that Burgess' ambition outdid his talent. His descriptions of hell, the burning of Rome and the destruction of Pompeii were impressive nonetheless.
Glenn Fraser
May 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
One of my all time faves. Picked up a first edition a little while ago. Yummy.
Jennifer Footman
Aug 14, 2013 rated it it was ok
meh. it wasn't bad, but it wasn't good, either
Mar 15, 2010 added it
Interesting as an outline of Christian mythology and of the progression through Roman emperors.
Christopher Black
Good read but gory details of the first century C. E.
It is actually a 3.5.
A book that should be read in this particular time of SL history! Some things about Rome at that time and SL now are similar.
Evan Kingston
May 09, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting tone and pace with great language throughout, capturing not just the literary and Biblical, but a bit of epic blockbuster as well.
Donnie Darko
May 12, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Tiene buena narración aunque su exégesis bíblica deja mucho que desear.
Feb 22, 2015 rated it it was ok
I kept falling asleep. I got 250 pages in. It's well written but booooring.
Emily Graybill
rated it really liked it
Jun 30, 2016
The Usual
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Jun 24, 2016
Jim Martin
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May 13, 2014
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name.

Anthony Burgess was a British novelist, critic and composer. He was also a librettist, poet, playwright, screenwriter, essayist, travel writer, broadcaster, translator, linguist and educationalist. Born in Manchester, he lived for long periods in Southeast Asia, the USA and Mediterranean Europe as well as in Eng
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