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The First Man in Rome  - Colleen McCullough Well... ghosh I've finished and what a book! I'm not sure if I have the energy to write this review but I better write one before my brain falls backwards in its skull and goes into hibernation.

I'm feeling a little dizzy at the moment. I have just been living in the Roman times with togas and centurions galore and I'm not quite ready for the real world. My head feels like you do after you've just come off a merry go round - I'm standing still but everything else is just spinning around in a mad confusion.

Colleen McCullough is a formidable author. Nothing gets in her way - she wants to write about Rome - she's going to write about Rome. She wants to write a love affair about a Catholic priest? She's going to write one. She is a confident author and it shows, she can pull of the possible.

The First Man in Rome is the first massive tome in a series of books about the leaders of Rome. It is packed full of history and information, sometimes it is an information overload as she goes into detail about warring and politics and laws. I found the best thing was to just go with the flow and not feel like I have to - right at this moment - understand all there is about the history, politics and technicalities of Roman society.

With all the politicking, I could not help but think about our own elections here in the UK. If only we had someone as strong as Gaius Marius to represent one of our political parties. Mind, the Roman way of getting rid of opposition seemed to be a little more brutal. At least he was someone you can get a grip of - or rather someone who can have a grip on you.

McCullough's greatest strength I think lies with the characters. They are all extremely interesting, even the ones you do not like she makes you enjoy reading about them. It is amazing to think that these people actually lived - over two thousand years ago. Their lives were much more brutal - with the paterfamilias (head of the family) having the authority to kill their wife of children quite legally, it makes it harder for us modern day readers to really relate to this kind of world. They were sophisticated but life back then so different from what we know today. I think McCullough manages to balance the realities of Roman life with characters who the modern day reader can relate to and like.

Overall I really enjoyed this book and I'm looking forward to reading the rest of this series. I have The Grass Crown in my shelf to be read. I have never before been so interested in Roman history... now I certainly am.