This novel, like its antecedent I, Claudius, will mesmerize those who love classical history, although casual readers may find it tedious. The two works together form a fictional autobiography of the Roman emperor Claudius, who - at least in this literary incarnation - is both an astute observer of first century Roman political society and an extraordinary character in his own right. Born into the Roman imperial family but repelled by the violence and treachery surrounding it, Claudius retreats from power for much of his adult life. He buries himself in obscure academic pursuits and hides, for what he believes to be his own safety, behind array of weird physical disabilities. When his nephew, the mad emperor Caligula, meets his just reward, the middle-aged Claudius is literally dragged against his will onto the Imperial throne. I, Claudius ends with this bizarre scene and Claudius the God takes up from there with the improbable emperor's own account of his reign up to point of his death. Much to everyone's surprise, Claudius emerges into the public eye as an energetic, able and just ruler. And while the great pride he takes in his enterprise is evident, both the style of his rule and the tone of his narrative is characterized by a wry and self-deprecating humor. Much of the book consists of a detailed recounting of the administrative, judicial and military minutia in which Claudius immersed himself. However, there is a deeper theme at work too, which is the inevitability that innocence in a corrupt world will be betrayed. Claudius's closest friend for much of his life is Herod Agrippa, the grandson of the biblical Herod the Great. Herod Agrippa is a charming rogue and schemer who, while genuinely fond of Claudius, teases him mercilessly for being a fool and warns him, as it turns out in all seriousness, to "trust no one". The irony in the admonition is apparent when Herod himself betrays Claudius, plotting militarily against him and almost succeeding. This is only a side story, however. The thematic climax of the book occurs when it comes to light that Claudius's beautiful wife Messalina, whom he adores with the intense innocence of a teenager in love, has been using him all along for the fool, taking lovers and mocking Claudius behind his back. He finally discovers the truth when she is found to be conspiring with one of these paramours to seize the throne. She is executed for her treachery, but Claudius's spirit dies with her. He re-marries, but to a woman he cares nothing about and who, with his knowledge and acquiescence - for his death has been foretold by augury - begins amassing power on her own and conspiring to make way for her own son by a previous marriage. This son is later to enter history as the decadent fiddler Nero. The book closes with actual historical accounts by Tacitus and Dio Cassius of the real-life emperor's death at the hands of his ambitious wife, who poisons him. The last pages give us the final degradation, a bitterly satirical account Seneca, depicting Claudius - in death, once again the fool - trying to enter Olympus as the deified emperor but being banished mockingly to Hades by the other gods. The book is cynical and deeply sad. It's beautifully written and I recommend it, although it won't be to everyone's taste.