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The Tribune's Curse (SPQR) Paperback – 14 Apr 2004


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Product details

  • Paperback: 248 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books; Reprint edition (14 April 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312304897
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312304898
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 1.5 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 558,446 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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The Tribune's Curse (Spqr)

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Glenn Cook HALL OF FAMETOP 10 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 20 Oct 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a brilliant book and a great read. If you're a fan of Decius Caecilius Metellus the Younger you are in for a treat.
Roberts weaves his tail of Decius' climb up the greasy pole of Roman politics with this latest installment.
Lots of Roman characters of the time are there like Pompey, Cato and Crassus plus the presence of Caesar is never far away.
Politics is at the heart of everything in Rome and we are privileged to follow in Decius' footfalls as he travels in search of the answer to the mystery around Roma's alleys and streets.
beliefs and rituals abound and this is a magnificent fore runner to the River Gods vengeance where a few hints of our hero's Herculean tasks as aedile the next year.
We learn of the religion that was the backbone of Roman Society and this is Roberts genius to weave such a tapestry that we are drawn into the book and story with the same delight and anticipation of a chocoholic with an empty stomach and a new box of deluxe chocolates!

It is that good a book.
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15 of 19 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 3 July 2004
Format: Paperback
Having read every one of John Maddox Roberts' SPQR series, I had the fullest confidence that I would enjoy "Tribune's Curse" immensely, and I did. Like author Steven Saylor, Roberts does a superb job of setting a gripping detective story in late Republican Rome. Each book brings different facets of the political and social history of this fascinating period into vivid reality, as seen through the eyes of a tough but amiable Roman patrician moving his way up the political ladder.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 14 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Another entertaining read! 15 Feb 2007
By Kaleidocherry - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I just started the SPQR series at Christmas, and am already up to book 7 (with interludes for other books). This is another high-quality, gossipy, action-packed mystery for Decius Metellus to solve. As in most of the earlier books, it's not a simple mystery such as finding the killer of a dead man (though this does come into play). Curses, beggars, magicians who speak with the dead, thugs, religion and of course politics all come into play. Never a dull moment.

The one thing that confused me is that Decius is now married to Julia. In book 6 he was in Gaul, and I don't believe they were married yet - but in the beginning of book 7, though Decius does explain that he's only back from Gaul so he can run for aedile, he doesn't mention anything about his wedding. Simply says "Now that Julia and I were married..." and goes on to describe a bit of domestic irritation he has to live with. I would have liked to read Roberts' description of a Roman wedding, along with Decius' mental commentary on the guests and situation.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Quarantining Rome 16 Feb 2011
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
What is the power of a curse? In some cultures being cursed seriously disables a person, effecting self confidence, appetite, sleep, livelihood and even psychological relations. A curse or maledict in ancient Rome could ruin a politicians career and a merchants trade.

Decius Caecilius Metellus the younger encounters a massive maledict in The Tribune's Curse. First a Tribune casts a spell upon a powerful Roman official, then the Tribune's body is found mutilated despite law and tradition that said that while in office a Tribune was not to be held accountable for his actions. Decius is commissioned to investigate the situation.

The trouble really starts because the rich and powerful Crassus decides that he will raise an army at his own expense and invade Parthia so that he may gain glory and more treasure. The people and Senate of Rome are against this action but are powerless to stop it because he is using his own money.

As usual in the SPQR series, John Maddox Roberts teaches about Roman culture. I learned that a Tribune of the people was not only immune from accountability during his year in office, but was sacrosanct, so harming him was considered a sacrilege.

Each year candidates for public office must campaign for election, but Rome has special rules. By law a candidate may not approach voters, but are free to talk to them if the voter comes to the candidate. So each year candidates for next years offices, wear a special costume that identifies them as a candidate, stand around in the Forum and wait for people to seek them.

Rome has a "secret name" given by their gods. That name is never to be spoken, and only a few men know the name. When the Tribune utters his curse, he mentions the secret name as part of the spell. Accordingly the priests proclaim that the entire city including its buildings, creatures, and people are unclean. To satisfy the gods members of the Senate must carry a huge platform three times around the perimeter of the city. On the platform is placed all the animals for sacrifice (imported from outside Rome - all pure). After the platform is successfully carried, then the animals are sacrificed.

The Tribunes Curse is an excellent historical mystery. In working to solve the puzzles he was presented, Decius probes into places and institutions seldom mentioned in Roman lore. The intricate details of rites and ceremonies is fascinating. The exposure of the inner workings of government offices reveals the unique organizational skill of the time.

I highly recommend this novel. It is an easy, fast paced read with more action than most books about this historical age.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Love this series and recommending it to famly/friends. 24 Aug 2007
By Holly Sielaff - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This is a wonderfully intelligent mystery/history series. As a history buff the detail is accurate and intersting without being a dry rendition of a textbook. The characters are believable and human. I truly enjoy the sardonic humor of the main character and the author's honesty regarding how a person of that time would have viewed issues such as slavery, mass executions and imperialism. I am recommending this series to all my friends and family. I love these books so much I am even lending (gasp) them out to friends to read. I highly recommend anyone with intelligence who wants to read for enjoyment begin this series immediately!
A particularly good political mystery in the days of Caesar and Pompey Magnus 8 Aug 2010
By Roger J. Buffington - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
"The Tribune's Curse" is the seventh novel in the author's excellent "SPQR" series. This is an outstanding political mystery novel that gives the reader an insightful look at how Rome's late Republican government functioned (or more often, failed to function). Here, at the beginning of the novel, a Roman Tribune of the Plebs is murdered, and the populace of Rome threatens ruinous riots as a consequence. Decius Caecilius Metellus the Younger is charged by Pompey Magnus himself to solve the mystery as to who murdered the Tribune, and Decius faces political ruin if he fails in this task. Making matters worse, Pompey himself is a prime suspect.

This is an absorbing novel that superbly serves its two intended functions. Firstly, it is an outstanding political murder mystery in its own right. Secondly, in this novel the author skillfully educates the reader as to the workings of the Republican Roman government, the role that religion played in that government, and more besides. Against the fabulous background of the latter days of the Roman Republic this novel plays out brilliantly to an unexpected conclusion (no spoilers here). Once again the author manages to startle and delight his readership.

The Kindle version of this novel is well adapted to this format; I read this novel, as I have the earlier six in this series, on my iPhone Kindle application.

Incidentally, as of August 2010 the eleventh novel in this series, SPQR XI, is not available on Kindle. I trust that Amazon will remedy this before I work my way to that installment in this outstanding series of novels.

Highly recommended. RJB.
More merry murders and mores 15 Dec 2008
By tertius3 - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This is another installment in the classical Roman mystery series that is closest to laugh-out-loud funny (cf. Lindsey Davis for the Brits). This episode finds our hero, Decius Caecilius Metellus, running for his first political office, that of aedile, the scut-workers at the bottom of the political ladder, but also responsible for exhausting his wealth to put on the humongously expensive public plays and gladiator games that pacified the plebians and attracted voters. That is what attracts the unwanted attention of Crassus, the richest man in the world, and accustomed to putting politicians into his debt to pay for their games. Crassus, one of the triumvirate with Pompey and Caesar, is the historical figure around which this story turns, for honest Decius must discover the circumstances that led a Tribune of the People to place a terrible, Rome-stopping curse upon Crassus. Decius has to quiz persons either magical or dissolute to understand the Tribune, and prevent the shocked and restive Roman populace compounding the catastrophe by erupting into riot and burning.

I enjoy these stories for their smooth writing, hidden clues, historical settings, and engagingly expressed ancient customs. One trick the author uses to situate the story in the Roman continuum, in the end days of the Republic, is to have Decius refer to how something is "about to change," as if he is recording the story years later under the Empire. The appended Glossaries of Latin terms in these novels are the most amusing short ones you'll find. I dislike the crude cover art displayed in this part of the series.
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