I, Claudius / Claudius the God by Robert GravesRead about another book on the list.
I’ll start off by cheating: these are actually two books but are often presented together, and were filmed as one for the acclaimed TV show featuring Derek Jacobi as the Emperor Claudius. Written as an autobiography—as a historian himself, Claudius is known to have written one which is now sadly lost—Graves’ book covers the period from the reign of Augustus through to the ascension of Nero. It brings to life the different characters of each of the early emperors: particularly interesting, I think, is the brooding Tiberius—an emperor whose reign tends to gets overlooked especially when compared with the more colourful rules of those that followed (i.e. Caligula!). Roman religious belief systems, and the inclusion of the prophetic Sibyl, also provide fantastical themes which run through the book.
I, Claudius also appears on Jeff Somers's list of six historical fiction novels that are almost fantasy, Tracy-Ann Oberman's six best books list, the Telegraph's lists of the 21 greatest television adaptations of novels and the twenty best British and Irish novels of all time, Daisy Goodwin's list of six favorite historical fiction books, a list of the eleven best political books of all time, David Chase's six favorite books list, Andrew Miller's top ten list of historical novels, Mark Malloch-Brown's list of his six favorite novels of empire, Annabel Lyon's top ten list of books on the ancient world, Lindsey Davis' top ten list of Roman books, and John Mullan's lists of ten of the best emperors in literature and ten of the best poisonings in literature.