Nanno Mulder
Nanno Mulder asked:

Reading Augustus at the moment, i feel compelled to compare it with "I Claudius", my question: is the format of using the multiple viewpoints a plus or a minus in your opinion?

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John The different narrators make this book what it is. You hear the story of this young man through their viewpoints, prejudices, and anglings. Confusing at first, the letters written by different people transcend how remarkable a person was the boy called Octavius.
Jolo G I think it depends wholly on your preference. I know of some people who had to put this down because they can't reconcile with the fact that it's not being narrated singularly. But for me, being a fan of historical fiction in general and of the Roman Empire as a particular epoch, I think the book's strength lies within that very fact. The epistolary format works incredibly well for me, since it provides a more colorful and colored view of the ancient age that it portrays through the prism of the people who lived it. It may feel a bit disjointed in some areas, but it works well enough because it's precisely what you would expect if you were reading several dispatches from differing people of differing opinions and differing points in time. It doesn't lack any cohesion despite that since it's all being glued together by Augustus himself as the principal character. The final two chapters are by far my most favorite, as it is finally being written by the princeps himself who reflects on his life and reign as the first emperor or Rome. The challenges, the sacrifices, the murders, the loves lost and the empire ultimately acquired through force of will, ambition, ruthlessness, privation, love, hate and everything in between are all the more vivid in John Williams' treatment of it.

I'm sorry for gushing about this book, it's just that I love it so much! Hope this answer helps.
Santiago Ortiz It's not only about different viewpoints, for each letter doesn't only contain a viewpoint, but one addressed to a particular person. It's different –in contents, style, intentions…– when Cicero writes to Brutus that when he writes to Augustus. So there are actually no real viewpoints, only politics. We'll never know what those characters actually think! Is it a plus or a minus? I would say that whenever there's a network of complex interrelations of intelligent, ambitious, powerful and manipulative people, and the writer can handle this complexity, it's definitely a plus!
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