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review 2017-06-21 02:30
The Grass Crown by Colleen McCullough
The Grass Crown - Colleen McCullough

Series: Masters of Rome #2

 

Boy, that felt long!

 

I don’t know my ancient Roman history very well, so I can’t judge how faithful McCullough was to all the facts, but she makes Roman politics sound absolutely mad. Well, all politics are a bit mad, but this runs the gamut from simple bribery to murder in the streets plus all sorts of machinations. I’m only giving it three stars because it oscillated between absolutely riveting (and sometimes comical) scenes, usually involving Sulla, and parts where the narrative lagged. I’m not sure we needed to see that much from Mithridates point of view, for example.

 

Sulla’s still a terrible person but awesome to read about. Reading about Marius’s downfall was disturbing. Roman politics are mad….oh, and there’s a civil war with the Italians. So lots of exciting happenings, interspersed with some dull bits.

 

Reading about the Roman politics made me think of some of the current news headlines, actually. I read this for the More Historical Than Fiction June read as well as for booklikes-opoly square Main Street 11 “Read a book written by an author born before 1955”. Colleen McCullough was born in 1937. I started this book before the booklikes-opoly shake-up so it’s only worth the original rewards but I’m counting it as being 815 pages (after that it’s the author’s note, a list of consuls, and the glossary), so I’m adding $10 to my bank. New total: $126.

 

Previous updates:

777 of 894 pages

493 of 894 pages

431 of 894 pages

103 of 894 pages

74 of 894 pages

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text 2017-06-21 00:39
Reading progress update: I've read 777 out of 894 pages.
The Grass Crown - Colleen McCullough

I think I've lost track of which is supposed to be Rome's "true" government at this point. I mean, we have consul against consul and all sorts of stuff going on.

 

It's madness, I tell you.

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text 2017-06-18 17:21
Reading progress update: I've read 493 out of 894 pages.
The Grass Crown - Colleen McCullough

I'm loving Rutilius Rufus's suggestion to convince Cornelia Sulla to agree to marry Quintus Pompeius. It basically amounts to dropping hints that Sulla is changing his mind and wants to marry her off to some especially odious fellow and then letting her meet Young Marius again (with whom she's in love) and let them annoy each other because he'll be pre-occupied with his career rather than her. And finally letting her actually meet Quintus Pompeius since she hasn't even laid eyes on him.

 

For context, Rutilius Rufus solves all of his friends' children's thorny marriage issues. And his plan certainly beats Sulla's threats to beat her to death or to sell her off into slavery. This leads to this exchange:

"I'm already a slave!" she called back.

What a soldier she would have made!

That last was in Sulla's thoughts. He really shouldn't lose his temper with her; it doesn't help him.

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text 2017-06-18 03:21
Reading progress update: I've read 431 out of 894 pages.
The Grass Crown - Colleen McCullough

Finally past the halfway mark! I'm not counting the glossary at the end, so I'm considering this book to be only 815 pages. Let's see if I can finish the second half in less than a week...

 

My problem is that, just like the first one, parts of this book are awesome and riveting and some parts are just meh. Like, did we really have to have those sections from Mithridates's point of view? Plus it's a really long book.

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text 2017-06-12 18:35
Reading progress update: I've read 103 out of 894 pages.
The Grass Crown - Colleen McCullough

Were the Romans really this averse to a state-funded bureaucracy?

 

Instead of sending out tax collectors to assess how much tax is owed etc., they have publicani bid on the tax contract. The Romans declare their minimum tax required, and they award the contract to the publicani that bid the highest. So then the publicani squeeze as much taxes as possible from the region so that they can pocket the difference between what is paid and what is owed to the Rome to maximize their profits.

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