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Roman Blood (Roma Sub Rosa) Paperback – 16 Jun 2005

69 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: C & R Crime (16 Jun. 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1845292480
  • ISBN-13: 978-1845292485
  • Product Dimensions: 11.1 x 3.6 x 17.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (69 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 658,760 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

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 excellent...an 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. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

53 of 56 people found the following review helpful By Michael Wells Glueck on 11 Sept. 2003
Format: Paperback
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 By Didier on 1 Jan. 2006
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Richard Blake on 4 July 2015
Format: Paperback
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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28 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Marcus Pailing (Bartlesnipe's Revenge) VINE VOICE on 20 Jan. 2004
Format: Paperback
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 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Kindlelover on 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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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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