I too have enjoyed this author's Roman Sub Rosa series with Gordianus--surely one of the most likeable heroes in detective fiction. So I approached this book with great anticipation, but like a number of others I enjoyed it --but wasn't really bowled over. It is the old problem of 'didactic' fiction --using fictional form to teach history. It is very difficult to do well, and I think Saylor has not done all that well. Parts are grippping, and pull the reader in, other parts get tangled up with the real history. However, it did give me a strong impression of how just how awful the Romans were--cruel, licentious, bullies, merciless,treacherous, the list goes on. I think Saylor, who is a really distinguished Roman scholar, give him his due, set out to write "the ultimate novel about Rome". He failed, but I give him a rosette for trying.