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Roman Blood (Gordianus the Finder Book 1) [Kindle Edition]

Steven Saylor
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (67 customer reviews)

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Book Description

A thrilling puzzle from the ancient world with real historical characters and based on a case in Cicero's Orations - Roman Blood is a perfect blend of mystery and history by a brilliant storyteller.

On an unseasonably warm spring morning in 80BC, Gordianus the Finder is summoned to the house of Cicero, a young advocate and orator preparing his first important case. His client is Umbrian landowner, Sextus Roscius, accused of the unforgivable: the murder of his own father.

Gordianus agrees to investigate the crime - in a society fire with deceit, betrayl and conspiracy, where neither citizen nor slave can be trusted to speak the truth. But even Gordianus is not prepared for the spectacularly dangerous fireworks that attend the resolution of this ugly, delicate case...

Books In This Series (12 Books)
Complete Series

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    How wonderful, to have a scholar write about ancient Rome; how comforting, to feel instant confidence in the historical accuracy of a novel. (Sunday Times)

    Saylor's scholarship is breathtaking, his writing enthrals. (Ruth Rendell)

    Wonderfully clever. (New York Times)

    Gripping historical thrillers...Saylor's understanding of the rich complexity of Roman life has a universal appeal. (San Fransisco Chronicle)

    Really enthralling recreation of time and place, fascinating storytelling. (Derek Jacobi)

    Sweeping and marvellously evocative. (Booklist)

    Remarkable...classical historical mystery, in every sense. (Kirkus Reviews)

    Book Description

    The highly regarded first book in Steven Saylor's Gordianus series which is being reissued with brand new covers to tie-in with the highly successful look of Roma and Empire.

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    Customer Reviews

    Most Helpful Customer Reviews
    53 of 56 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars A Forsyte Saga set in ancient Rome 11 Sept. 2003
    Roman Blood, the first of Steven Saylor's Sub Rosa series of novels, introduces Gordianus the Finder and his family, fictional characters who become increasingly memorable and claim a hold on our affections and sympathetic concern as they interact throughout the series with many famous historical characters, Julius Caesar, Pompey The Great, Cicero, and Spartacus being the best known. The lawlessness of a great city - Rome - without a police force; the brutal treatment of slaves as chattel; the political intrigues and assassinations - all are faithfully portrayed in historically accurate and authentic detail. But perhaps the most remarkable aspect of these novels is their overlay of modern liberal values represented by the fictional narrator, who manumits (frees) and marries his Egyptian concubine, Bethesda, adopts two slaves as his sons, understands and accepts the independence and sovereignty of women, reveres and serves the truth as much as Diogenes, and evinces a genuine religious piety. The characters are memorably drawn and individuated, and the finder's daughter, whose patronymic name Gordiana is shortened to Diana, is perhaps the most appealing daughter in literature since Cordelia. Like all works of a master spirit, these books provide an edifying education, with recognizable allusions to ancient as well as Elizabethan literature, and they contain flashes of sardonic humor appropriate to the anatomy of the human condition that they reveal. They are among the very best of modern recreations of that peculiar combination of greatness and squalor that was ancient Rome.
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    29 of 32 people found the following review helpful
    4.0 out of 5 stars Hooked instantly 1 Jan. 2006
    By Didier TOP 1000 REVIEWER
    Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
    I stumbled across this book quite by hazard but was hooked from the very first page. Gordianus, 'the last honest man in Rome', is thoroughly believable because - how rare this has become in historical thrillers and novels - he is depicted as a real human being with real emotions (happiness, joy, sadness, jealousy, you name it) instead of a one-dimensional puppet.
    The setting is very well drawn and the plot engrossing, the hours you'll spend reading this book will afterwards feel as if you've stepped back in time. What more can one ask for? I for one immediately went after all the other books in the series.
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    28 of 32 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars Just buy it and read it... 20 Jan. 2004
    This is, simply, one of the best historical novels I have read (and I've read a few). There's no point in wasting hundreds of words on it - just read it and enjoy a superb story (based on Cicero's first major trial) with a realistic portrayal of Republican Rome.
    Then, when you've done with that, read the other Gordianus books - you won't regret it!
    So there!
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    5.0 out of 5 stars What I like above all 4 July 2015
    Roman Blood (1997) by Steven Saylor
    Reviewed by Richard Blake

    Without sneering at it, I have no taste for military historical fiction. I will do battles in my own novels, but much prefer civilian intrigue. What I like above all, however, in historical fiction is a sense of moving in a different moral environment from our own. In all times and places, people have the same basic motivations. But the way these are manifested makes any competent recreation of the past a study in oddness. Fellini described his masterpiece Satyricon as “science fiction of the past.” That’s what I try to achieve when I write, and that’s what I like to read.

    Roman Blood, the first in Steven Saylor’s epic cycle of novels, ticks all the above boxes. Told in the first person by Gordianus, a private detective from the less exalted classes in Roman society, it is a thriller. Sextus Roscio, a decided aristocrat, has been accused of murdering his father. He has retained Cicero as his lawyer, and Cicero needs someone who can attend to all the grubbing through the murkier recesses of Roman society in search of whatever evidence can get his client acquitted.

    The novel begins almost in the style of Raymond Chandler:

    “The slave who came to fetch me on that unseasonably warm spring morning was a young man, hardly more than twenty.”

    So we meet Tiro, secretary to Cicero. In due course, we meet all the big men in Roman society, plus a cast of fictional characters who are distinguishable from the real ones only if you know that they didn’t actually exist.

    I could, at this point, move to an examination of the plot. I’d rather not, however. As said, the novel begins like Raymond Chandler, and it proceeds in much the same way.
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    5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars Ancient Rome brought to life 7 May 2012
    Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
    One of the things I love about my kindle is the ease with which I can search through many lists of books and discover new authors (new to me in fact). This is how I discovered Steven Saylor and his novel "Roman blood". After coasting through a number of categories of books and much reading of reviews I decided to give this book a try. I found it to be an intriguing story about the "finder" Gordianus who helps to solve a mystery of a horrible crime. The author's style tells the fascinating story woven round descriptions of life in the ancient Rome. I was treated to an interesting history lesson too. This book is a great read with all its twists and puzzles from the start to finish as it brings ancient Rome to life. Greatly recommended.
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    Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
    I really enjoyed this novel, which from the outset submerges you into the sights, sounds, smells and intrigues of ancient Rome.

    The main character Gordianus is a well developed, well written and original character, who I found to be totally engaging. I suppose a 'finder' would be an early equivalent of a consulting detective and Gordianus is a worthy forerunner of the myriad of such characters who may have preceded him into print, but follow him in historical timeline.

    It was refreshing to read a 'Roman' novel whose main character was not a legionary, politician, general and so on. If you, as I do, enjoy historical fiction or a murder mystery then you will certainly enjoy this book.

    The writing was excellent, the plot totally captivating and the research meticulous and authentic.
    OK, so enough superlatives.

    In short I highly recommend this novel and will most certainly be seeking out the rest in this series.
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    Most Recent Customer Reviews
    4.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant!
    A fantastic mix of history and adventure. After reading the fantastic ROMA by Saylor (which I must read again soon! Read more
    Published 6 days ago by Tom
    1.0 out of 5 stars One Star
    See other book review
    Published 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
    4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
    Another good read from this author.
    Published 5 months ago by I. G. Hill
    3.0 out of 5 stars Audio bad, book good
    Having enjoyed reading the book I purchased the audio to enjoy the story again.

    I'm onto the third disk and am finding it heavy going. Read more
    Published 6 months ago by Rob
    4.0 out of 5 stars Historical fiction done well
    I'm a fan of historical fiction. This is a good read especially for the first in the series. Looking forward to the next in the series.
    Published 7 months ago by Wynning IT
    5.0 out of 5 stars Read before visiting Rome!
    Brilliant book. Book club read it before our trip to Rome, so really good history book as well as cracking story.
    Published 7 months ago by Isabella
    5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
    Published 8 months ago by Mrs. Mary Jc Smith
    5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
    it gives an incite into ancient Rome plus a detective story
    Published 8 months ago by Mrs. Joan Nicholas
    5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book
    I really enjoyed this brutal view of a cultured era...

    Well written and beautifu descriptions of everyday life and the scenery of Rome at its height
    Published 8 months ago by Jacqui B
    5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping yarn
    A real page turner and very well written. This was my first Saylor book and it certainly won't be my last!
    Published 12 months ago by Williamr
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