Michael Curtis Ford, Author . St. Martin's/Dunne $24.95 (384p) ISBN 978-0-312-27538-9

This second historical novel by Ford (after The Ten Thousand) follows the rise of the Emperor Julian, the fourth-century Roman Caesar who has been vilified by Christian historians for his reintroduction of Hellenistic religions to Rome. The narrator is Julian's physician, Caesarius, ostensibly a loyal adviser but also a dogmatic Christian who wants to save Julian's soul and thinks very little of the man he serves. Battle scenes predominate in the early going, as Ford traces Julian's military campaigns in Gaul and documents his growing opposition to his uncle, Constantine the Great. The fast-paced narrative competently examines Julian's development as a soldier, inspired military commander and rhetorician. Ford clearly admires Julian's breadth of intellectual curiosity and his mission to restore diversity of religious practice and neo-Platonism. But Caesarius is so unrelentingly angry and humorless that his voice-over ends up stifling Julian as a character. An unreliable narrator threatened by the hero's greatness might have been a marvelous device, but in this case Caesarius's hostility is over the top, and his snide commentary gets too much airtime at the expense of Julian. Then, too, Julian's philosophical inner life and his genius for enlightened Hellenism has been dealt with at length in Gore Vidal's Julian (1962). In showing Julian from the distorted perspective of a treacherous enemy, Ford gambles, with mixed results. (Nov. 15)

Reviewed on: 08/26/2002
Release date: 11/01/2002
Genre: Fiction
Mass Market Paperbound - 464 pages - 978-0-312-98940-8
Hardcover - 400 pages - 978-0-7528-4976-8
Ebook - 384 pages - 978-1-4299-0438-4
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