The Last King: Rome's Greatest Enemy

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Overview

To the Romans, the greatest enemy the Republic ever faced was not the Goths or Huns, nor even Hannibal, but rather a ferocious and brilliant king on the distant Black Sea: Mithridates Eupator VI of Pontus, known to history as Mithridates the Great.

At age eleven, Mithridates inherited a small mountain kingdom of wild tribesmen, which his wicked mother governed in his place. Sweeping to power at age twenty-one, he proved to be a military genius and quickly consolidated various ...

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The Last King: Rome's Greatest Enemy

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Overview

To the Romans, the greatest enemy the Republic ever faced was not the Goths or Huns, nor even Hannibal, but rather a ferocious and brilliant king on the distant Black Sea: Mithridates Eupator VI of Pontus, known to history as Mithridates the Great.

At age eleven, Mithridates inherited a small mountain kingdom of wild tribesmen, which his wicked mother governed in his place. Sweeping to power at age twenty-one, he proved to be a military genius and quickly consolidated various fiefdoms under his command. Since Rome also had expansionist designs in this region, bloody conflict was inevitable.

Over forty years, Rome sent its greatest generals to contain Mithridates and gained tenuous control over his empire only after suffering a series of devastating defeats at the hands of this cunning and ruthless king. Each time Rome declared victory, Mithridates considered it merely a strategic retreat, and soon came roaring back with a more powerful army than before.

Bursting with heroic battle scenes and eloquent storytelling, Michael Curtis Ford has crafted a riveting novel of the ancient world and resurrected one of history's greatest warriors.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Michael Curtis Ford's love for the ancient world emanates from every page: in his magical settings and spectacular recreation of monuments and landscapes, in his bold portraits of the protagonists, and in his intriguing and swiftly-moving plot."-Valerio Massimo Manfredi, author of the "Alexander Trilogy" and Spartan

"Ford captures the Roman first century B.C. from a novel perspective, viewing it through the prism of one of Rome's most formidable enemies. Battle scenes are described with great skill... the book demonstrates the author's ability to imagine the Roman world from its periphery and shows the same mastery of military history as his first novel, The Ten Thousand."-Publishers Weekly

"The Ten Thousand and Gods and Legions, were so detailed that they seemed real. Now Ford has done it again. Brutal, straightforward, exciting and informative, The Last King is a hair-trigger ride on ancient sands and hills. This is Ford's best so far, and only those who have read his first two know just how good that makes this book."-The Statesman Journal (Salem, OR)

"Powerful telling of historical drama. Michael Curtis Ford brings the Roman Empire to life. The Last King is complete with battle scenes and powerful storytelling about one of history's most feared warriors."-Oregonian

"Ford has crafted a fascinating fictional biography of King Mithradates the Great. Eloquently narrated by Pharnaces, the illegitimate son of Mithradates and one of his favorite concubines, this rousing saga also provides an illuminating glimpse into the often vast divide that separated Eastern and Western warfare, culture, and philosophy during antiquity."-Booklist

"A swashbuckling account of the exploits of Mithradates the Great. Solid fun: a good, old-fashioned adventure tale with plenty of action."-Kirkus Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In chronicling the feats of Mithridates Eupator VI, last King of Pontus (a region of Asia Minor), Ford captures the Roman first century B.C. from a novel perspective, viewing it through the prism of one of Rome's most formidable enemies. Mithridates proved his prowess by holding his own against Sulla, Lucullus, Pompey and a number of lesser Roman commanders for nearly 40 years in ceaseless battles. When he first claims the throne of Pontus, the kingdom is nearly bankrupt and dependent on Rome. Consolidating his hold on his Black Sea coast territories, the upstart king launches himself into combat with Rome, exploiting the republic's weaknesses. Mithridates's military skills are remarkable, but he also resorts to questionable tactics, massacring 80,000 Romans in Pontus. Ford's storytelling shifts uneasily between the realistic (the king's quarrels with the narrator, his bastard son Pharnaces) and the mythic (the king's heroic, even Conanesque physical stature and prowess), and the contemporary tone of the dialogue (" `Quit the posturing,' Sulla interrupted") tends to sits awkwardly with more sober historical exposition. Battle scenes are described with great skill, though the author's eagerness to provide a thorough cataloguing of weaponry and tactics sometimes gets in the way of the action. Flaws aside, the book demonstrates the author's ability to imagine the Roman world from its periphery and shows the same mastery of military history as his first novel, The Ten Thousand. (Mar.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Continuing his fictional stroll through classical history, Ford (Gods and Legions, 2002, etc.) provides a swashbuckling account of the exploits of Mithradates the Great, King of Pontus and scourge of ancient Rome. Although he never quite became a household name like Alexander the Great, Mithradates (115-63 b.c.) deserves to be remembered in the company of that noble Greek, who set the pattern for every conqueror-statesman from Xerxes to Napoleon. A Persian, Mithradates grew up in the thoroughly Hellenized court of Pontus on the Black Sea, where the veneer of Greek civilization masked the brutality of Asiatic despotism. Under the rule of his weak mother, Queen Laodice, Pontus had become a vassal state of Rome, militarily impotent and economically subservient. The young Mithradates, not content in his role as heir apparent to a puppet throne, fled the palace and lived for seven years in the wilds of Pontus and Cappadocia, eventually returning at the head of an outlaw army to occupy the capital and depose his mother. As if that weren't enough strife for one family, he then proceeded to marry his younger sister, who despised him but bore him one son before he killed her for plotting against his life. He then marauded through Cappadocia and Bythinia, gradually extending the sway of his rule until he became a threat to Rome itself. Over the course of some 20 years (88-66 b.c.), Mithradates was Public Enemy Number One as far as the Senate was concerned, and he proved astonishingly capable of rebounding from defeats at the hands of superior forces to recoup his losses with a vengeance, eventually conquering the whole of Asia Minor. Even after he met his match in the Roman general Pompey,Mithradates was able to get the last word in: He asked one of his own men to kill him, thus evading capture and execution. Solid fun: a good, old-fashioned adventure tale with plenty of action and no narrative frills. Agency: Sheil Land Associates
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312936150
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 4/5/2005
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 432
  • Product dimensions: 4.05 (w) x 6.68 (h) x 1.16 (d)

Meet the Author

Michael Curtis Ford is forty-three years old and is a translator and novelist. He has bachelor's degrees from the University of Washington and a graduate degree from Princeton. He speaks several languages and is an avid reader of the classics. He and his wife educate their three children at home in Oregon.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 21 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 21 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 2, 2008

    A reviewer

    The Last King is a poignant glance at one of Rome's fiercest adversaries, allowing the reader to decide at the end whether to perceive him as a bloodthirsty slaughterer, calculating conqueror, or a pasisonate extension of his people's will. Perfect for those interested in military history, ancient Rome, or just looking for something different and exciting, remarkable and inspiring.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 9, 2004

    Exciting histotical fiction novel

    In first century BC, the Roman Senate declared King Mithridates Eupator VI of Pontus (on the Black Sea) as its greatest enemy. Rome had turned Pontus into a satellite state when Mithridates¿ mother ruled. When he became the monarch, his country was totally reliant on Rome. Instead of bowing like his mom, he launches campaigns often brutal to throw Rome out of his country and the rest of Asia Minor. Over the next four decades starting at home, Mithridates ruled and warred. First he exploited the weaknesses of his mother ultimately overthrowing her; then he challenged the puppeteers of the Roman Republic using anything in his genocidal arsenal to make a point. Finally after forty years of battles, retreats, and more war, he met final defeat at the hands of General Pompey. Even then he refused to bow having his men execute him instead of allowing the Romans to parade him as a trophy........................................ This is a fabulous historical fiction novel that provides deep insight into the Ancient Roman world through one of its toughest enemies. Many readers like this reviewer probably never heard of Mithridates before, but he obviously proved to be a dangerous long term threat to the Romans. Though the depth in which Michael Curtis Ford provides military tactics seems overwhelming to the lay-person, it also furbishes a sense of how brilliant Rome¿s Greatest Enemy truly was. The tactics also lead to fantastic descriptions of the battles as the audience get a first hand account (narrated by the lead protagonist¿s son) of life in the BC Roman Empire from the perspective of those who wanted out from the glory...................... Harriet Klausner

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 27, 2014

    This was an unusual historical novel that provided deep insight

    This was an unusual historical novel that provided deep insight into one of the "enemies of Rome." It was well written and turned out to be rather an exciting read!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 23, 2013

    Great

    Loved it

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 4, 2006

    Simply Amazing!

    I read this book when I was in 8th grade and it was amazing. You can't put the book down, I was up all night reading. This book sparked my intrest in Roman history so my sophomore year when I took AP World History I was actually interested and alert during the teacher's lectures. I highly recomend this book to anyone and everyone who would like a great book to read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 17, 2005

    One of the best books I have ever read!

    This book I would is is one of the best books I have ever read. I could'nt even let go of the book, it was just so great!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 4, 2005

    great writing, great theme, great novel

    Once I picked up this book it was very hard to put down. Ford has lived up to his other books. This historical novel was very accurate, plus the pulse was envigorating. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in ancient roman history with a bias from the opposite view.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 24, 2004

    Not a good book

    Let me preface by saying I love historical fiction. I've read the authors other works and enjoyed them. This is not a good book. I have had a very tough time reading this boring novel. I couldn't care less about the characters. I have even found the battle scenes to be dull. This is a very, very shallow book. If you want good historical fiction check out Gates of Fire or some Mary Renault.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 21 Customer Reviews

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