AmazonUK £5.99 £15.90
AmazonUS $7.63 $15.30
Fictional saga / military
Series: Roma Sub Rosa Book 15
As often as I say 'I don't like novels about the Ancient World', whenever I do pick one up, I love it. And that is true also of this novel.
This is the next in a series of novels about Gordianus, the son of the The Finder of Rome who is on his own adventures. He is living in Alexandria in 88BC, having found himself there after an adventure in a previous volume. He receives a mysterious message from Ephesus which compels him to sail for that city despite it being probably the least safe place he could go as a Roman. Ephesus has been taken into Greek hands from the Romans by King Mithridates, King of Kings, who wishes to wreak vengeance on Rome and all things, and people, Roman.
Probably because this is book 15 of a series, this novel takes a lot of scene setting and a lot of backstory to get to the point where the story gets interesting, probably more ponderous for me as I did not know the characters and so was trying to get a sense for them as the story unfolded. However, once everything is established, events start to move fast and furiously to its inevitable conclusion. I would, therefore, suggest starting at the beginning of the series with Roman Blood)
Gordianus is realistic, a young man who has grown up around some of the greats of history and become a small part of the story of the Ancient World. He is likeable, down to earth, and just the right side of inconstant to be true-to-life and yet still attractive as a person.
The cast of characters around him are rather like caricatures, but good ones, larger than life and overly done, similar to well-rendered puppets with excellent actors doing the voices - you know they are a touch O.T.T., but you still love them.
Despite this being very mainstream and generally very well presented, I must comment on the cover design *. The volume I have possesses a cover image that is completely misleading, as if the artist was told 'It's Roman' and did what he or she felt was appropriate without ever being told any more about the content of the book. It isn't about gladiators, so if you do pick this up, ignore the image.
All in all this was a great read, a different read as at the height of Roman power (just before the time of Christ and before the fall of Egypt) the Romans are not in the ascendancy. The all-powerful might of Rome is being challenged and successfully. The question this novel poses is: What can one young Roman do about it?
© Nicky Galliers
*Not applicable to Canada: Cover for Canada is different from UK and US
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