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Summary

The remarkable bestseller about the fourth-century Roman emperor who famously tried to halt the spread of Christianity, Julian is widely regarded as one of Gore Vidal’s finest historical novels.

Julian the Apostate, nephew of Constantine the Great, was one of the brightest yet briefest lights in the history of the Roman Empire. A military genius on the level of Julius Caesar and Alexander the Great, a graceful and persuasive essayist, and a philosopher devoted to worshipping the gods of Hellenism, he became embroiled in a fierce intellectual war with Christianity that provoked his murder at the age of thirty-two, only four years into his brilliantly humane and compassionate reign. A marvelously imaginative and insightful novel of classical antiquity, Julian captures the religious and political ferment of a desperate age and restores with blazing wit and vigor the legacy of an impassioned ruler.

©1962, 1964 copyright renewed 1990, 1992 by Gore Vidal. (P)2019 Brilliance Publishing, Inc., all rights reserved.

What listeners say about Julian

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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Faithful but dreary

Excellently performed, and written in a style which is erudite, articulate and very faithful to the style of Roman correspondence and memoirs. And yet...... it doesn't engage or hold much interest. There are pleasingly catty little jibes between the old 'friends' who are corresponding, and the events of Julian's life are told with apparent fidelity: but this is a rather dry and cerebral account, with no sense of physicality or action in a real world. We are told for instance that Wien is 'a little town of stone and wood' - like all towns at that time - but there is none of the wonder and strangeness that one would expect from a contemporary observer. All locations and all characters feel essentially the same, and after listening for a good ten hours in hopes of conflict, drama or interest, I gave up.

4 people found this helpful

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profound and authentic fictional history

A master novelist retelling the impossibly ironic tale of Julian the Apostate. This is an absorbing fictional history , told to us as from the intimate correspondence of three key witnesses to one of the greatest moments in the history of civilisation,. This is the last gasp of paganism as it is swallowed by the encroaching dark age in which christianity took hold. It is brought to vivid reality through the written interpretations of these epoch shifting moments by the three most eloquent players on this grand stage.

Moving and thought provoking in so many subtle and satisfying ways and particularly if you know anything
of the time of Julian, into the convulsing death throws of the late Western Roman Empire, the prose is hugely satisfying.

The narration is also flawless to my ear, with the three narrators all having their own highly believable characters. It is told so well as to be gently immersive, no less than the content deserves.

It is indeed a true classic and is possibly even better as an audiobook than an actual book...

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Hail Julian

Very well read version of a wonderful novel. Julian was the last Roman, and perhaps the most thoughtful man to hold the imperial office. With him, the genius of classical antiquity ended and the empire was henceforth ruled by a succession of pious, cruel no nothings.

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Great book, good narration

One of the best historical novels I’ve even written. Multiple actors narrating the different characters’ parts give it a cinematic feel.

But the actor that read Julian’s part really couldn’t say Ctesiphon (at best it sounded something like Cetestiphon).

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  • Abhishek Deepak
  • 23-10-19

Brilliant narration!

The narrator does justice to Vidal's masterpiece. Not one dull moment. The narration grips you instantly.

10 people found this helpful

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  • Frank Donnelly
  • 28-11-21

A Really Good Historical Novel, Somewhat Unusual Format

This is a very good historical novel with a philosophical aspect to it. As an audiobook it is very well read, although I am glad I also read much of it in an actual book. There are foreign names and words that I wanted to completely understand. Gore Vidal is a “thinking man’s” author. I mean that in the traditional sense of that saying and am NOT being gender specific. I merely mean it is not a frivolous, light read. This is a novel that demanded my attention. The audiobook is excellent. Thank You…

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  • A Christian
  • 24-06-21

ugh

Annoying narration. Ponderous book where nothing happens. And I have to admit finally, I love Gore Vidal as an urbane, American man of letters, but his books never do it for me.

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  • nick
  • 24-04-21

beautifully written and very detailed

I thought that the author could have left out some of the detail to make the story more riveting. In the effort to be complete and detail-oriented there are lots of historical facts that don't really add to the entertainment of the book but will be much appreciated by history buffs.