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Imperial Purple   By: (1855-1921)

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Imperial Purple by Edgar Saltus is a captivating historical novel that transports readers into the opulent and treacherous world of ancient Rome. Set against the backdrop of the declining Roman Empire, Saltus weaves a mesmerizing tale filled with political intrigue, power struggles, and forbidden love.

The story revolves around a remarkable woman named Livia, a beautiful and intelligent aristocrat who is determined to rise above the constraints placed on women in that era. Livia's journey is one of resilience and determination as she navigates through a society dominated by men who underestimate her abilities.

Saltus paints a vivid picture of the Roman Empire, bringing to life the decadent beauty of its palaces, gardens, and vibrant social scene. The author's meticulous attention to detail immerses readers in this ancient world, making it come alive with all its grandeur and brutality.

While the historical aspects of the novel are meticulously researched and accurately portrayed, it is the complex characters that steal the show. Livia is a multi-faceted protagonist, driven by her ambitions yet torn between loyalty and self-preservation. Her relationships with other characters, particularly her husband and lover, are fraught with tension and ambiguity, adding depth to the narrative.

The plot unfolds at a brisk pace, with Saltus skillfully maneuvering between political machinations, scandals, and Livia's personal struggles. The author's prose is elegant and lyrical, effortlessly capturing the essence of both the characters and the era. The dialogue is sharp and witty, further enhancing the reading experience.

Imperial Purple is not just a historical novel but a profound exploration of themes such as power, gender, and the timeless pursuit of personal freedom. Saltus shines a light on the inherent contradictions of a society built on grandeur and decadence, yet plagued by corruption and moral decay. Through Livia's eyes, readers are invited to question the very nature of power and the sacrifices one must make to attain it.

My only criticism of Imperial Purple is that at times, the narrative can feel a bit disjointed, with abrupt shifts in perspective and time. However, this minor flaw does not detract from the overall enjoyment of the story.

In conclusion, Imperial Purple is a captivating and thought-provoking historical novel that transports readers into the heart of ancient Rome. With its richly-drawn characters, lush descriptions, and intricate plotting, Edgar Saltus has created a mesmerizing tale that will leave readers eagerly awaiting his next work.

First Page:





I. That Woman II. Conjectural Rome III. Fabulous Fields IV. The Pursuit of the Impossible V. Nero VI. The House of Flavia VII. The Poison in the Purple VIII. Faustine IX. The Agony



When the murder was done and the heralds shouted through the thick streets the passing of Caesar, it was the passing of the republic they announced, the foundation of Imperial Rome.

There was a hush, then a riot which frightened a senate that frightened the world. Caesar was adored. A man who could give millions away and sup on dry bread was apt to conquer, not provinces alone, but hearts. Besides, he had begun well and his people had done their best. The House of Julia, to which he belonged, descended, he declared, from Venus. The ancestry was less legendary than typical. Cinna drafted a law giving him the right to marry as often as he chose. His mistresses were queens. After the episodes in Gaul, when he entered Rome his legions warned the citizens to have an eye on their wives. At seventeen he fascinated pirates. A shipload of the latter had caught him and demanded twenty talents ransom. "Too little," said the lad; "I will give you fifty, and impale you too," which he did, jesting with them meanwhile, reciting verses of his own composition, calling them barbarians when they did not applaud, ordering them to be quiet when he wished to sleep, captivating them by the effrontery of his assurance, and, the ransom paid, slaughtering them as he had promised... Continue reading book >>

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