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Publisher's Summary

A sweeping novel of politics, war, philosophy, and adventure - in a restored edition, featuring never-before-published material from Gore Vidal’s original manuscript - Creation offers a captivating grand tour of the ancient world.

Cyrus Spitama, grandson of the prophet Zoroaster and lifelong friend of Xerxes, spent most of his life as Persian ambassador for the great king Darius. He traveled to India, where he discussed nirvana with Buddha, and to the warring states of Cathay, where he learned of Tao from Master Li and fished on the riverbank with Confucius. Now blind and aged in Athens - the Athens of Pericles, Sophocles, Thucydides, Herodotus, and Socrates - Cyrus recounts his days as he strives to resolve the fundamental questions that have guided his life’s journeys: how the universe was created, and why evil was created with good. In revisiting the fifth century B.C. - one of the most spectacular periods in history - Gore Vidal illuminates the ideas that have shaped civilizations for millennia.

©1981, 2002 Gore Vidal (P)2019 Brilliance Publishing, Inc., all rights reserved. Foreword by Anthony Burgess © The Estate of Anthony Burgess; previously published in 99 Novels: The Best in English Since 1939 (Summit Books: 1984).

What listeners say about Creation

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A Magnificent Tour de Force

I can't believe twenty seven hours of listening went by so fast. I wanted more. This is Gore Vidal at his very best with all his wit, charm, eloquence, funny sarcasm, irreverence, defiance, curiosity and love of his fellow men. These attributes are all present in the protagonist of the novel, Cyrus Spitama, as well. In fact, I think Cyrus Spitama IS Gore Vidal to a large extent. I think, Cyrus Spitama is the avatar of Gore Vidal in the Persian Empire.

I won't bore you by repeating the synopsis of the story given in other reviews and the book description (take a look also at the Amazon reviews of the book). Suffice it to say that if you like historical novels, works of fantasy based on real history, thought-provoking what-if books given in beautiful prose, and narrated beautifully, you'll love this book. You will also enjoy this book if you are interested in ancient history or philosophy.

Finally, the narration was outstanding. Malcolm Hillgartner IS the older Cyrus Spitama, narrating an account of his life to his young nephew. So Hillgartner doesn't change his voice and accent much, but he does a FANTASTIC job of projecting the emotional content, humor or gravity of conversation by his intonation and the cadence of his speech. The perfect narrator for this book.

Overall, listening to this book, even after having previously read it, was a very enjoyable experience.

14 people found this helpful

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Spectacular

Having read this book twice before, it was a pleasure to hear it read to me. Vidal goes without the recognition he deserves. That takes away nothing from his brilliance. If for nothing else, his asides on the tongue of The narrator(s) are worth the time and money. We all owe the Master a debt of gratitude and be happy the he does not have to suffer the incoherence of Trump.

8 people found this helpful

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Beautifully Constructed Historical Novel

A masterful work. Vidal immerses you in the ancient setting of Achaemenid Persia in the 6th-5th century BCE, both within the empire and beyond its far-reaching borders as the protagonist Cyrus Spitama (grandson of the prophet Zoroaster) undergoes a lifelong exploration of the concept of creation, challenging his own beliefs as a priest of the "Wise Lord" as he interacts with a multitude of cultures and characters, including real historical figures such as Herodotus, Confucius, and Xerxes.

If you wish to replace your current reality with another, look no further, and prepare to be swept away as you enter the world as it was over 2,500 years ago.

2 people found this helpful

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  • DB
  • 10-12-20

A great narrative

Insightful narrative and brilliant narrator. Great read for anyone interested in ancient history especially ancient religions.

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Masterpiece

Vidal took on an enormous endeavor and along with a likewise brilliant narrator achieved a 5-star audio book.

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Envolving and enlightening

Very interesting and well-written book especially enticing for those who like ancient history and would like to learn more about it in an informal way.

1 person found this helpful

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Historical fiction at its cynical best

Just now discovering Vidal. This book is super interesting. Gives a lot of insight intlo.Persian history.

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Great overview of the Axial age

Vidal is a solid writer, and he does a fine job here. My only reservations about the book are the constant name dropping, both of famous and not so famous people. It gets difficult for the reader. I say this because most of the people in my book club who read this did not finish it for this reason. I found the audiobook a better choice, because the presentation of the novel fits well with the audiobook format. This is an ambitious and mostly successful novel. Especially worthwhile if this era of history interests you.

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An epic undertaking ... not as great as I'd hoped

The time around the 5th century BC saw the rise of some great thinkers, among them the Buddha, Lao Tsu, Confucius and Socrates. It is curious - and it led Gore Vidal to creating the fictional Cyrus Spitama. In "Creation" an old Cyrus narrates his life - and what a life it's been. The grandson of Zoroaster, Cyrus grows up at the Persian court, meets Cyrus, Darius, and Xerxes (best friends). He is eventually sent to India to open trade routes, later to China/Cathay - and there meets not only leaders and culture - but also those famed philosophers.

Honestly? I wanted to love this. The narration is excellent ... but the novel itself is just too epic/long for its own good. There's lots about deals and strategies and religion and court etiquette and more in Persia, Babylon, Athens, Sparta and then India and China. From a historical point of view, the novel is surely insightful and no doubt well researched. But, for my sense, it became tedious over time. And while Cyrus Spitama speaks with various philosophical leaders, I didn't see Vidal give the protagonist any particular insight from all of that. So the title of "Creation" ... just about nothing is revealed beyond that which people like Confucius and the Buddha supposed have said. In the end, Cyrus Spitama's life was one that was well lived and might make for an epic Netflix series - but as a novel and with that monumental title, I just hoped that I'd feel more positive about it.

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Unbelievably complex and interesting

The names, the places and the incidents Are mind-boggling. The cruelty, treachery, and Heartlessness of Royalty Are unbelievable. The value of life seems insignificant. This book is a must read.

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  • Hamburgerpatty
  • 04-29-21

I whooped with joy ...

... when I discovered Gore Vidal's Creation was available on Aubible.

I had read Creation back in the Olden Days of the early 1980s and remembered what height, depth and breadth of a canvas of Ancient Hisory Gore Vidal had created for his lucky readers.

It's a novel set in the 6th and 5th centuries BCE and focuses on the diplomatic career of the fictiional career of Cyrus Spitama a Persian and the grandson of Zoraster. He is raised in the Persian court where he is acquainted with Darius and his son Xerxes. Cyrus Spitama is sent on a mission by the Persian king to study various philosophical and religious practices of his known world. He meets Aristotle, the Buddha, Confucius. He also meets beautiful women, savage generals, kings, merchants, concubines and commoners.

Cyrus' sponsors might have given him one assignment, but Cyrus himself is interested in learning about the Creation of the world and so sets about asking many people including those great phiosophers and religious leaders - how was the world created.

Vidal's history might not be totally accurate; his imagination and scope is tremendous. And every so often the reader/listener is rewarded with a zinger of an aside which only Vidal could have written. Delicious.

Vidal also reminds us that history is often written by the victors and victors have an agenda. Nothing changes and yet everything does.

I wonder has there every been a historical novel with such scope as Creation?

Why isn't this novel better known?

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  • HistoryLover
  • 10-07-20

One of the great historical novels

Vidal takes us to ancient Persian, the court of Darius the Great and Xerxes, for this amazing historical novel. It takes us from Persia to India and China. Masterfully conceived.

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  • Lindsay Harper
  • 08-15-20

amazing

Great book by great writter read before but just gets better each time I read it

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 05-06-21

Struggle to finish

voice of narrator was a hard listen. Story also felr laboured with so much time spent by chracters ruminating to themselves.