The Confessions of Young Nero

About the Book

New York Times bestselling author Margaret George has brought history to vivid life with her chronicles of queens and kings. Now, she turns her gaze to an Emperor…

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.

Now in Paperback

A Barnes and Noble “Best New Fiction Recommend” for March

CONFESSIONS OF YOUNG NERO was selected as one of Real Simple’s “Best New Books” in March

The Story Continues Fall 2018 in The Splendor Before the Dark


“George’s reconstruction of the man, in terms both of his public life and private character, is more than a revisiting of fact: It’s a subtle exploration of identity and the insidious effects of power. . . . ‘Confessions’ is all about identity: How is it made, lost, reinvented? . . . Margaret George occupies that blurry space between history and fiction. And between Tacitus and Margaret George, I rather think it’s George’s account that is not only most sympathetic but most truthful.”—Diana Gabaldon, Washington Post

“In a historical novel that makes for delightful reading, best-selling writer Margaret George gives her readers a more sensitive, introspective version of teen-heartthrob Nero.”—Christian Science Monitor

“George’s take on Nero is fascinating and convincing.” —London Sunday Times

“With conviction and flair, George looks past two millennia of bad press about Nero to reveal an intelligent man of justice and religious tolerance who takes refuge in artistic expression. This is the first of two novels charting his dangerous, outrageous life in first-century Rome; the second will be eagerly awaited.”—Booklist

“Highly acclaimed for the detail and personality she gives to epic subjects, George’s heavily researched novel flows dynamically among multiple points of view. VERDICT: Historical fiction devotees and anyone who enjoys the entertainment of a grandly dysfunctional family will quickly devour this first volume of a duology and eagerly await its sequel.”—Library Journal

“There can be no doubt that George meticulously researched her novel or that she deliberately set aside the ancient histories for a more complete, accurate picture of the era. . . . This is George’s genius: to convince readers that hers is the story they should believe, making them eagerly await the second part of Nero’s history.”—RT Book Reviews

“George’s enthralling narrative immediately pulls the reader into the life and times of this notorious and perhaps maligned Roman. . . . George’s storytelling doesn’t fail to captivate and entertain.”—Historical Novels Review


“Another tour de force for Margaret George.  Nero’s story is a remarkable one, sure to surprise readers.  He thought his family was accursed, for Caligula was his uncle, Messalina his cousin, and his mother preferred to end her marriages with poison, not divorce.  Despite his bloody birthright, he would be a popular, enlightened emperor, but neither history nor Hollywood would be kind to him–his legacy shaped by his enemies, his memory maligned, the real man lost in the improbable legends that took root long after his death.  Margaret George gives him the justice denied him for two thousand years.”—Sharon Kay Penman, author of A King’s Ransom

The Confessions of Young Nero is a wonderful novel, one of Margaret George’s finest. Her rich, vivid descriptions and keen insight into human nature bring ancient Rome to life as only the very best historical fiction can. Readers will be enthralled 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. A twisted mother-son obsession, a struggle for survival, and dastardly deeds play out on a tapestry of luxury and bloodshed. In trademark style, this superb novel of imperial intrigue has it all but still leaves you longing for the sequel! — Stephanie Dray, New York Times Bestselling Author of Lily of the Nile

“Absolutely spellbinding! The magic Margaret George weaves with her latest novel, The Confessions of Young Nero, leaves the reader feeling as if they’ve been transported more than two thousand years into the past. Margaret George is a masterful storyteller, and every character in The Confessions of Young Nero leaps from the page. A truly wonderful read!”—Michelle Moran

“Margaret George thoughtfully excavates one of Rome’s most infamous emperors, uncovering the man behind the legend. Carefully researched, vivid, and passionately told, this is the story of a fascinating new Nero: a sympathetic, artistic and conflicted soul struggling to navigate the vicious waters of Roman politics.”—Madeline Miller, author of The Song of Achilles

“In The Confessions of Young Nero, Margaret George has brought everyone’s favorite ancient villain vividly to life, in a refreshing panoply of sights, smells, the rich flavors of the far-flung Roman Empire, as seen through the viewpoint of a young boy whose destiny was to become the most powerful figure in the world. A powerful insider’s view of a story we thought we knew.”—Katherine Neville, New York Times and #1 internationally bestselling author

“Margaret George has an incredible talent in that she can stand in the shoes of her protagonist and speak in his or her voice. Once again, she has amazed me. I have just finished reading The Confessions Of Young Nero. And I felt as if I was listening to the boy himself. It is a marvelous read, taking us from his childhood to his early 20s. We see the small child, the teenager,and the young man who has been emperor since the age of 16. And what a tale he has to tell! A child of the imperial dynasty founded by Julius Caesar, Nero’s survival is assured because of his ability to navigate a ruthless Rome and a lethal Mother. I was astonished to discover that he was not at all like the Nero we have always read about. Totally different, in fact, and an enlightened emperor. This is a gripping read. And as usual, the research about ancient Rome and Nero is impeccable. I can’t wait for volume 2, which will continue the story of a legend.”—Barbara Taylor Bradford, author of The Cavendon Luck and A Woman Of Substance

“With her signature style and keen eye for research, Margaret George frees Nero from lurid legend, resurrecting the fearsome, often misunderstood emperor in all his glory, forsaken innocence, and fallible humanity. From a curious boy overshadowed by his mother’s malignant ambitions to a gifted youth enamored of the arts and obliged to take the throne, young Nero leaps to life in this vivid, unforgettable confessional of his early life and first years as emperor. Set against a backdrop of ancient splendor and decadence, The Confessions of Young Nero is the triumphant return of one of our finest living writers of historical fiction—the engrossing tale of Nero’s gradual surrender to absolute power, and his struggle to retain his soul as he becomes Imperial Rome’s most notorious ruler.” – C.W. Gortner, author of The Vatican Princess

“A new biographical novel by Margaret George always calls for celebration! Her portrait of the young emperor Nero is vivid, imaginative, deeply researched, sympathetic yet nuanced.”—Adrienne Mayor, author of The Poison King and The Amazons

“A worthy successor to I, Claudius! Margaret George’s compelling psychological portrait of Nero draws the reader deep into the whirlpool that was ancient Rome. The description of Nero is remarkable and I was shocked to find myself rooting for the much maligned Emperor. Fabulous historical detail. By itself, worth the price of admission; the fact that it is beautifully written is the bonus!”—Bob Brier, author of The Murder of Tutankhamen

 The Confessions of Young Nero brings compelling, sympathetic life to one of the ancient world’s most notorious men: tragic, maligned Emperor Nero. Thrilling, involving storytelling that brings the ancient world to life as only Margaret George can!”—Kate Quinn, author of Lady of the Eternal City

“A page-turning masterpiece, steeping us in the decadent delights of Imperial Rome and tantalizing every sense! Margaret George skillfully scrapes away the verdigris of two millennia of political propaganda, placing us deep within Nero’s psyche: the reader palpably feels his stage fright, his regrets, and his ecstasy.”—Juliet Grey, author of Becoming Marie Antoinette

“In The Confessions of Young Nero, Margaret George gives one of the Roman Empire’s most notorious rulers the central role on a stage that is backlit by the sumptuous but bloody spectacle of Imperial Rome. Offering an intimate glimpse of a man who has for centuries been eclipsed by legend, this lavishly detailed and richly imagined novel is steeped in personal and dynastic turmoil, and is a mesmerizing portrayal of Nero’s improbable rise to absolute power.”—Patricia Bracewell, author of Shadow on the Crown