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worst of a not very good series
on 21 May 2006
sorry to all Saylor fans, but I can't agree: yes, Saylor has read his ancient sources but I don't think there's anything authentically Roman about the atmosphere of his novels. The early ones (Roman Blood, for example) at least had an energy that made them a perfect commute read, but the later ones like this are just dull. The characters (especially Davus, the handsome but dim gladiator) are stereotypes with no inner life and the private story set against a true background is always far less interesting than the story that isn't told.
Very early on in this book, one of Caesar's soldiers said that no Roman could even begin to pronounce a Greek name for a local goddess : this is supposed to be the last years of the republic when educated Romans were brought up on Greek and practically learned their alphabets by copying out Homer! Ok, so a legionnary might not have had an elitist education, but the idea of Greek being some kind of obscure, barbaric language is just ludicrous and made me throw the book down with annoyance - an obscure point, some might say, but to me it's an indication of the historical 'wrongness' of this series.