Reviews of ‘The Emperor’s Soul,’ ‘2k to 10k,’ ‘The Pagan World,’ ‘The Fall of the Pagans and the Origin of Medieval Christianity’

The Emperor’s Soul

This is a re-read for me. I’m re-reading it because it’s excellent, even on this third (or fourth?) re-read. This time I really grew to admire Gaotona’s character arc throughout. I also enjoyed the themes of: debating what a person’s soul is; the value of an original versus an exact duplicate, and whether the duplicate can be of better value than the original; the ecstatic joy of the art of creation. I really can sympathize with Shai, and I think she’s among the best realized of all of Sanderson’s protagonists.


2000 to 10000: How to Write Faster, Write Better, and Write More of What You Love

This is a re-read for me. I go back to reading this nonfiction how-to guide about once a year. I think it’s writing advice is very good. It’s only 70 pages long; give it a spin if interested.


The Pagan World

Goodreads

This is a 24 hour lecture series on the topic of pre-Christian religious ritual practice in Egypt, Greece and Rome, and how ‘religion’ as well as ‘governance’ were seemlessly blended into one another. This series does a good job of exploring the topics of Roman Household worship, the gods and the state, the Cult of Emperors, Delphi and other sanctuaries, the role of sacrifice, and more.

I enjoyed this, and learned a few new things. Most notable was the focus on the Roman tradition. Before now I always thought that the Roman religion was a copy of the Greek tradition, but that’s not true. The Romans worshipped the different gods like Juno and Jupiter, but they worshipped them not only as larger godheads but also minor forms like Juno Moneta and the Juno of womanhood.. Additionally Romans had a complex ‘home’ religion, where the father is the ‘priest/ritual officiator’ of the worship of the ancestors. So when the Roman Emperors took over the state, they co-opted this home religion by making the emperor the father of the religion, putting him in uncontested control of the state.


Fall of the Pagans and the Origins of Medieval Christianity

This was an audiobook lecture series on the topic of… the fall of Pagan Rome! I found this to be very good, covering topics spanning everything from the pre-Christian era, all the way to the complete dissolution of Paganism as an ‘institution’ in the Empire. My favorite part was the discussion of Emperor Julian’s attempted revival of the Pagan faith(s). The lecturer did a good job of emphasizing that Christianity’s ascendancy was anything but assured from the beginning. Instead, after Rome suffered a spate of ill luck, the Roman emperors turned to Christianity to give their rule extra legitimacy as Christianity became more common amongst the people of the Empire.

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