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The Bull Slayer (Roman Games) [Kindle Edition]

Bruce Macbain
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)

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Product Description


'Roman Games is brilliant. A brutal vision of Rome, rigid with hierarchy and fear.' Robert Fabbri.

'Macbain leads the reader down the mean and dirty streets of Rome. Sure to appeal to fans of Steven Saylor' Library Journal.

'Inspired... A highly atmospheric and absorbing murder mystery that builds to an earthshaking climax.' Steven Saylor.

Product Description


The frontier province of Bithynia is a cesspit of sedition, rotten with corruption and seething with hatred of Rome. When a rich Roman official is found dead on a desolate hillside; two riderless horses tethered in a nearby wood, it is assumed he was killed as a protest against Emperor Trajan's unlimited power.

But Pliny the Younger, newly appointed Governor of Bithynia, is not so sure.

Who was the other rider? What were the two of them doing in the middle of nowhere? And what links this murder to a secret cult of the Persian sun god, Mithras - the Bull Slayer?

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1089 KB
  • Print Length: 285 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: B00BOYK9K2
  • Publisher: Head of Zeus (1 July 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #138,161 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
3.9 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Roman Games by Bruce Macbain was one of the historical fiction surprises of last year, its reluctant detective Pliny the Younger an unusual and pleasing hero, his Roman world well realised, corrupt, striving to be better than it is. I have been looking forward to The Bull Slayer ever since.

Rather intriguingly, The Bull Slayer is set a full 14 years after the close of Roman Games. Domitian is now dead (to big sighs of relief, no doubt) and the more conventional, if pinickity Trajan is emperor. Pliny is an established figure in government, newly Governor of the institutionally-challenged and not entirely content province of Bithynia; his child-bride Calpurnia is 28 and Bithynia's first lady, entertaining the wives of her husband's officials with stately dinners, improving herself with Greek lessons from Timotheus, a pedagogue intent on edifying his pupil with Homeric epic. Unfortunately, when Balbus, the second highest ranking Roman official in Bithynia and the man in charge of finances, disappears it's up to Pliny to investigate what has happened to him and who might benefit from his possible death. Last time, Pliny had Martial helping him. This time he has the equally famous, and salacious, author Suetonius by his side.

This is a province that spans three worlds - Rome, Greece and Persia. While it endures Roman bureaucracy, parts of it exalt and remember, falsely, its Greek past while others welcome mysterious Persian religions, in particular the cult of Mithras. It's into this unhealthy mix of corruption, pride, venality and superstition that Pliny finds himself and his case. The more he uncovers, the more is hidden.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Different type of Crime Novel 26 July 2013
By Gareth Wilson - Falcata Times Blog TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
I loved the original title in this series (Roman Games) and was more than looking forward to seeing what life would hold in store for future outings of the enigmatic figure of Pliny the Younger. After all, in the first book, he was swept along by events that spiralled out of control that demonstrated that even when you're a lead character, fate can have a way of leading you a merry dance.

So I was pretty much expecting more of the same in this second novel. I wasn't disappointed and to be honest the character becomes even more interesting in this outing especially when you get to see a stronger side to his wife Calpuria who undergoes not only terrible events herself but shows a strong determination above others to help make things work. Add to this the deliciousness of the wonderfully Seutonius, all round made this a cracking story to sit back with. All round a great novel and one that I thoroughly enjoyed even if it was a little short, but as the saying goes, its always best to leave them wanting more. Cracking.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pliny and the Bull-Slayer 13 July 2013
By Keen Reader TOP 100 REVIEWER
This is the second mystery featuring Pliny the Younger written by Bruce MacBain (the first was Roman Games). This second book is set some fourteen years later, and Pliny has been appointed Governor of the Roman province of Bithynia-Pontus, where previous Governors have been found to be dabbling in making more profit for themselves than for the Empire. The Emperor Trajan has faith in Pliny's ability to set the province straight and to keep the peace in a volatile region. Pliny soon finds himself mixed up in religion and politics, but also finds peace eluding him in his own household.

These books are really great; atmospheric, historically very pleasing, and the characters are well drawn and well portrayed. It's great to see Pliny, who comes to us as an historic character who was a very upright moral and ethical man, in these stories in all his `human-ness'. Great stuff; totally recommended.
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4.0 out of 5 stars good read 1 Mar. 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
it took a bit to get going. Maybe because i was reading it as the second in the series the first 50 or so pages setting up the story were slightly hard work FOR ME. Not actually the books fault and probably not noticeable if reading as a stand alone book.
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4.0 out of 5 stars The bull slayer 16 Feb. 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I found it slow to begin with ,but then really found it engrossing working out who was the bull slayer..l will look forward to another book by this author.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Pliny the Detective 1 Feb. 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
A fascinating blend of verifiable Roman history interwoven with a strong detective story. Macbain uses several well known characters from history e.g Emperor Trajan, Pliny the Younger and Suetonius. He speculates on the cult of Mithras and blends corruption, superstition and lust. The novel's strength is the vivid portrait of life and politics in Bithynia astride Greece, Persia and Rome. I enjoyed all the superstition around the snake oracle and the gullibility of the people. I was less happy with the portrayal of Calpurnia and her young lover which did not ring true at all however the earthquake and all the action scenes were excellent!
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