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The Poison King

The Life and Legend of Mithradates, Rome’s Deadliest Enemy
Narrated by: Paul Hecht
Length: 15 hrs and 51 mins
4 out of 5 stars (9 ratings)

Non-member price: $41.73

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Publisher's Summary

A National Book Award finalist for this epic work, Adrienne Mayor delivers a gripping account of Mithradates, the ruthless visionary who began to challenge Rome’s power in 120 B.C. Machiavelli praised his military genius. Kings coveted his secret elixir against poison. Poets celebrated his victories, intrigues, and panache. But until now, no one has told the full story of his incredible life.

©2010 Adrienne Mayor (P)2010 Recorded Books, LLC

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • mr
  • 18-03-2014

really interesting

works well as an audio book, amazed by the mans life. usually he his mentioned in passing or irritates the romans etc. good to see the story from the other side of the fence.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Peadar
  • 19-06-2013

too much speculation but still a fine read

If you could sum up The Poison King in three words, what would they be?

too much speculation, however still an interesting and informative biography

Would you recommend The Poison King to your friends? Why or why not?

Overall I would recomend this book because its subject matter (The Poison King of Ponthus) is little understood - outside of a narrow Roman perspective. However be careful of the author's habit to make up or speculate about facts that we don't have exact information for from the sources.

What does Paul Hecht bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

Hecht provides an interesting voice.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Despite it's faults, yes I would say this is a book that I found (very) hard to get away from and I almost did end up listning to it in one sitting

Any additional comments?

The first part of the biography is fillied with the author's own theories that mostly fall into the dangerous 'what if?' category...This is the same for the last few minutes or so of the book which sort of damages it's factual biographical nature. However everything else is laid out in fact with an overall sympathetic but not overly-flattering view of our main player - the King himself and his struggle against the Roman Republic.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Amazon Customer
  • 24-04-2013

A significant life worth listening to

Not that many people will have heard of Mithradates today, yet if you are interested in the late Roman Republic then he is a colossus of the period. Nothing if not energetic and colourful, this Anatolian king was one of Rome's most constant enemies who ranks with Hannibal in his potential threat to the Latin empire. His life-long fight with Rome is only half the story however, as his various scientific experiments - particularly poisons - and his unorthodox private life all combine to make this a life well worth knowing more about.



This was an interesting book that told the story well. Inevitably we know less about his life than we would like, and at times the book does wander into peripheral subjects or simply goes off at a tangent in order to fill the pages. However this is true of many ancient biographies, and there is plenty of actual facts and background information to paint a pretty vivid picture. The reader does a pretty good job if a little monotone, but I found the pace of the book was mostly good enough to keep me interested in the next twist and turn.



While not brilliant (hence only 4 stars) this recording is certainly worth listening to if this is your area of interest, and if the only figures from pre-Imperial Rome that you can name are Hannibal and Julius Caesar then you will certainly find this book enlightening, and a good story to boot.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful