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The Venus Throw (Roma sub Rosa) [Paperback]

Steven Saylor
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
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Book Description

25 Aug 2005 Roma sub Rosa
Steven Saylor's historical mysteries set in ancient Rome and featuring investigator Gordianus the Finder enjoy a widespread following in America. Robinson is publishing the whole series - five novels to date - in the UK. The Venus Throw is the fourth novel in the series to be published in Britain. The fifth, Murder on the Appian Way, is available in hardback or paperback. On a cold January evening in 50 BC, two strangers enter Rome - one an Egyptian ambassador, the other a eunuch priest. Both are seeking Gordianus the Finder, who has a reputation for solving murders. But the ambassador, a philosopher named Dio, asks for something that Gordianus cannot give him - help to stay alive. Before the night is out, Dio is brutally assassinated. Now Gordianus begins the most dangerous case of his career. Hired to investigate Dio's murder by a beautiful woman with a scandalous reputation, he must follow a trail of intrigue into the highest circles of political power and the city's secret arenas of debauchery. There he will learn that nothing is as it seems - not the damning evidence he uncovers, nor the suspect he sends to trial, nor the real truth behind Dio's death which is shrouded in secrets of the heart as well as the state. Saylor brings the people and the politics of Ancient Rome to convincing life, in the middle of a fast-moving and compelling mystery.

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The Venus Throw (Roma sub Rosa) + Catilina's Riddle (Gordianus the Finder 3) + A Murder on the Appian Way (Roma sub Rosa)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: C & R Crime; paperback / softback edition (25 Aug 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1845292456
  • ISBN-13: 978-1845292454
  • Product Dimensions: 11.1 x 17.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 285,886 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Steven Saylor is the author of EMPIRE: THE NOVEL OF IMPERIAL ROME, a follow-up to the international bestseller ROMA: THE NOVEL OF ANCIENT ROME. These two epic novels comprise a multi-generational saga that spans the first 1200 years of the city, from Iron Age trading post to the height of empire under Hadrian.

Steven is also the author of the ROMA SUB ROSA series of historical mysteries featuring Gordianus the Finder, set in the ancient Rome of Cicero, Caesar, and Cleopatra. The latest book in the series is THE SEVEN WONDERS, a prequel that follows the 18-year-old Gordianus on his journey to the Seven Wonders of the World.


Outside the Roman books are two novels set in Steven's native Texas. A TWIST AT THE END is based on America's first recorded serial murders, which terrorized Austin, Texas in 1885. The chief protagonist is young Will Porter, who later became famous as O. Henry. HAVE YOU SEEN DAWN? is a contemporary thriller set in a small Texas town not unlike the one where Steven grew up.

Steven's books have been published in 21 languages, and book tours have taken him across the United States, England, and Europe. He has appeared as an expert on Roman life on The History Channel, and has spoken at numerous college campuses, The Getty Villa, and the International Conference on the Ancient Novel.

Steven was born in Texas in 1956 and graduated with high honors from the University of Texas at Austin, where he studied history and Classics. He divides his time between homes in Berkeley, California, and Austin, Texas. "If I could have another home," he says, "it would definitely be in London, my favorite big city in the world." When not using his brain, he likes to keep in shape running, swimming, and lifting weights.

Product Description

Amazon Review

Steven Saylor's series of thrillers about Gordianus the Finder play cleverly with what we think we know about the last days of the Roman Republic. Gordianus does the legwork for prosecutors and defenders in a system of trials which have become increasingly politicised; even his former patron Cicero has become less interested in justice than in winning and Gordianus is, almost notoriously, the last honest man in Rome. Most of his cases deal with murder trials in which Cicero appeared--part of the fun of reading Saylor is his attentive reading of the great advocate's brilliantly partisan rhetoric. And for those less interested in such intellectual games, the books are attractively atmospheric, showing a Rome still small enough for everyone to know each other's business. Here Gordianus finds himself investigating the murder of a former mentor, Dio, a philosopher and leader of an embassy from Egypt; the triumvirs, Pompey, Caesar and Crassus, are contemplating annexing Egypt and its exiled king is only too prepared to act as their catspaw. And Gordianus finds himself the ally of Clodius and Clodia, the two most notoriously dissolute siblings ...There is nothing so deceptive as what we think we know and Gordianus is as often tricked here as is the reader. --Roz Kaveney --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


Engrossing... Simmering with eroticism... An absorbing brew of Rome's decay. (Publishers Weekly)

Brilliantly effective... Remarkably vivid... Finely etched historical background... The finest flower yet of Saylor's Roma Sub Rosa series. (Kirkus Reviews)

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Seeing through disguises in Rome 26 Mar 2004
By A Customer
Gordianus meets a figure from his past; an Alexandrian philosopher accompanied by a eunuch and disguised as a woman. From this bizarre starting point Saylor leads us though murder, conspiracy, disillusionment and deceit. By letting Gordianus keep his head with Clodia Saylor lets us keep ours as well; we are neither as bitter as the witty debauched poet Catullus nor as cynical as the brilliant Cicero, whose demolition of Clodia makes a fitting climax before the final twist. After being carried in Clodia's litter, after spending a night with a drunk Catullus in the Salacious Tavern, after pitying a weeping Trygonion at Clodia's party we can return to the bosom of Gordianus' unconventional family, where all is finally resolved in this most colourful of the Gordianus stories.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars As great as ever 26 July 2007
Another absorbing and brilliantly written whodunnit from Saylor's pen. This is a bit more straightforward than the preceding Catalina's Riddle, but still has plenty of twists, colourful characters, spellbinding oratory and dialogue and some horrific moments. Splendid stuff.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars another fine book 1 Jan 2006
By Didier TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Part four in the Roma sub rosa series, Gordianus is now back in Rome and hired to investigate the murder of an Egyptian ambassador by the infamous Clodia (wouldn't you just love to meet her in the flesh? I know I would!).
As in the previous novels there's a captivating mix of fictional and historical characters (Cicero again, Marcus Caelius, Catullus!), all based on solid research and brought to us in Saylor's thoroughly enjoyable style.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best in the series 13 April 2007
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The review above is very harsh. For me this is one of the best, particularly for brilliant evocation of late-Republican life and society.

As to Cicero, yes of course the main parts of the speech are lifted from the original - but so what! The speech is compelling and Saylor makes it available outside the world of classical scholarship to thousands of people.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great addition to a great series 28 Mar 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is the fourth in the series featuring Gordianus the Finder, and, for me, is a real return to form after the previous slightly disappointing episode.
Gordianus reluctantly looks into the murder of an old friend shortly after he arrives in Rome. There are many twists and turns, some historically-based, others fictional, but they blend together beautifully.
The characters of Gordianus, his family, and more frequent acquaintances, are building well through the series, and I certainly feel as if I am getting to know them - even able to predict their reactions to situations (not always accurately!)
The series is a cut above the many Roman novels currently appearing; they have an intelligence which many others lack.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Roman Detective 19 May 2012
By Lilybet
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I Quite enjoyed this book...The story line
is very much like his last book.This is not to say this is a bad thing
Very pleasent light reading
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13 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Saylor has no peer. He does not need one. 8 Mar 2001
By A Customer
What Steven Saylor does for fiction is remarkable, and to such an utterly high standard that it is difficult to consider it as fiction; rather the factual accounts of the blindingly gritty muggy underworld of the last great civilization on Earth, the city of Rome, grandest of all empires. In steps one of the most amiable, intelligible, modest and bitingly cynical protagonists that has ever interfaced the realities of a novel--Gordianus the Finder, the extremist view of the human coctail, possessing characteristics of hardboiled P.I.s and the infintestimal and unequivocal knowledge of such brilliant detectives such as Sherlock Holmes. Gordianus in the truest sense, cannot be considered a cynic, more a pragmatist--one of those who believes that a cynic is just something an idealist calls a realist. Yet at times Gordianus's strengths are put to strain; yet Saylor's erudite hero always manages to pull through, even in his mid-life. "The Venus Throw" surrounds the vague tactical plot to murder Gordianus's humble philosophical mentor Dio of Alexandria. As the premise expands so does the credibility of Dio's entire innocence, and with this goes Gordianus's trust of all things ineffably Roman. Such scintillating ripostes throughout this novel(that of Eco, the once-mute son of Gordianus, and Gordianus himself) are not dry and groanworthy, but actually quite playful, and the entire novel increases into the farcically ironic region when such scintillating and witty characters such as Trygonian the little gallus and Catullus (the novel's best protagonist, besides that of Gordianus) enter the ancient, gladiator-sprawled buttress-pocked arena. Read more ›
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