Review & Giveaway: The Confessions of Young Nero by Margaret George

The Confessions of Young Nero by Margaret George

Publication Date: March 7, 2016
Berkley Hardcover
ISBN: 9780451473387

Genre: Historical Fiction

The New York Times bestselling and legendary author of Helen of Troy and Elizabeth I now turns her gaze on Emperor Nero, one of the most notorious and misunderstood figures in history.

Built on the backs of those who fell before it, Julius Caesar's imperial dynasty is only as strong as the next person who seeks to control it. In the Roman Empire no one is safe from the sting of betrayal: man, woman or child.

As a boy, Nero's royal heritage becomes a threat to his very life, first when the mad emperor Caligula tries to drown him, then when his great aunt attempts to secure her own son's inheritance. Faced with shocking acts of treachery, young Nero is dealt a harsh lesson: it is better to be cruel than dead.

While Nero idealizes the artistic and athletic principles of Greece, his very survival rests on his ability to navigate the sea of vipers that is Rome. The most lethal of all is his own mother, a cold-blooded woman whose singular goal is to control the empire. With cunning and poison, the obstacles fall one by one. But as Agrippina's machinations earn her son a title he is both tempted and terrified to assume, Nero's determination to escape her thrall will shape him into the man he was fated to become, an Emperor who became legendary.

With impeccable research and captivating prose, The Confessions of Young Nero is the story of a boy's ruthless ascension to the throne. Detailing his journey from innocent youth to infamous ruler, it is an epic tale of the lengths to which man will go in the ultimate quest for power and survival.

Praise for The Confessions of Young Nero

“Margaret George has performed about the most audacious act imaginable for a historical novelist—an epic work of fiction not merely sympathetic to Nero, but told largely in his own voice. I applaud. And so, I imagine, does that connoisseur of the arts Nero, watching from Elysium.”—Steven Saylor, author of Roma: The Novel of Ancient Rome

“[George] brilliantly recreates past eras and bygone civilizations.”—Sharon Kay Penman, author of A King’s Ransom

“A wonderful novel, from the riveting first scene to the breathtaking finale.” —Jennifer Chiaverini, New York Times bestselling author of Fates and Traitors and Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker

“Wow! Margaret George—the reigning queen of historical fiction—is back with this epic saga that vividly re-imagines the life of young Nero in all its operatic, dramatic glory.”—Stephanie Dray, New York Times bestselling author of Lily of the Nile

"Margaret George has an incredible talent in that she can stand in the shoes of her protagonist and speak in his or her voice.”—Barbara Taylor Bradford, author of The Cavendon Luck and A Woman Of Substance

About the Author

Margaret George writes biographical novels about outsized historical characters: Henry VIII, Mary Queen of Scots, Cleopatra, Mary Magdalene, Helen of Troy, and Elizabeth I. Her latest, The Confessions of Young Nero, will be published in March. All six of her novels have been New York Times bestsellers, and the Cleopatra novel was made into an Emmy-nominated ABC-TV miniseries.

She especially enjoys the research she has done for the novels, such as racing in an ancient Greek stadium, attending a gladiator training school in Rome, and studying the pharmacology of snake poison.

My Review

Readers of this blog are well-aware of my love for author Margaret George, so it should come as no surprise that I'm ending my reviewing hiatus just to share my love for her latest novel, The Confessions of Young Nero.

Ms. George is the author who drew me into the Historical Fiction genre when I picked up Mary, Queen of Scots and the Isles years ago and she continues to slay me with her amazing writing and fascinating historical characters. I love the way she chooses figures from history that are maligned or controversial. George now tackles Ancient Rome and the early life of the legendary Emperor Nero. From being nearly drowned by his uncle, Caligula, to his volatile relationship with his mother Agrippina, his marriage to Poppaea, Rome's battle with Queen Boudicca, his meeting with the Apostle Paul, and the burning of Rome, readers are swept back into history and given a front row seat.

Beyond Nero's political dealings, George delves into Nero's personal side as well. His love of the arts and music, and his inner turmoil of being an Emperor and the nefarious things he had to do along the way. George paints Nero as a flawed man, but one that knows he is flawed.

I look forward to George continuing Nero's story in her next novel, which she is currently working on now. I remember hearing somewhere that she is also thinking of writing a book on Queen Boudicca and I sincerely hope that she does. I wanted to hear more about Boudicca's battle with Rome.

I highly recommend you checking out The Confessions of Young Nero, it's a fascinating look at a real, yet flawed, Emperor Nero! May I note as well, the hardcover copy is absolutely gorgeous and has a deckle edge, which I love!

Rating: 4 Stars


Passages to the Past has one copy of The Confessions of Young Nero up for grabs! To enter, please leave a comment below and be sure to include your email address or alternate way to contact you should you win.

Giveaway is open to US residents only and ends on March 21st.


  1. I cannot wait to get my hands on this novel! And I see from your review that I probably will not be disappointed :). Margaret George was one of the first authors to get me interested in historical fiction as well! My first novel of hers was Helen of Troy and I can't even describe the disappointment I felt when I finished reading it and remembered that Helen wasn't a real, historical figure! George brings her and the other characters to life in that novel (and in her others) in a way that almost no one else can do. Thank you for this giveaway :).

    marykate (dot) sullivan711 (at) gmail (dot) com

  2. Go Amy! Nice to have your voice back in the historical fiction world. Congrats to Margaret on what sounds like another page-turning bestseller. Can't wait to read!

  3. I can't wait to read this! *rubs hands with anticipatory glee*

  4. Yay, so happy you are back to reviewing! This sounds amazing!! I love knowing that there is a follow up novel to come that will continue the story as well. Nero's life seems ripe for excitement and drama so I'm excited to see how he comes across in Ms. George's hands. Thanks for the giveaway!!

    Colleen (

  5. Sounds like a book that is well researched of a great historical person. Margaret's novels are always a treat! Thanks Amy!!

  6. I can't wait to read this! Thank you for the chance!!

  7. I'm so excited that she wrote this book! I've never read any historical fiction about Nero. Can't wait to read it. Thanks for the giveaway!

  8. All hail the Queen of HF! Thank you for the giveaway! unabridgedchick at

  9. I know she is an amazing author, but I haven't read her yet. This book is really a tempting place to start!

  10. I love Margaret George -- just encountered her work this year in her book on Elizabeth I and Mary Queen of Scots. I'm blown away. I would treasure a copy of this book. If lucky, shamy at post harvard dot to you, Amy -- Kara

  11. Love Margaret George, and would love to win!

    carlyasilver at gmail dot com


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