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4.6 out of 5 stars48
4.6 out of 5 stars
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 18 September 2006
For those readers who are Falco fanatics let me establish from the start that this is not a Falco novel but nonetheless it is a terrific read. Still using the setting of Ancient Rome (I think that Lindsey Davis has just about made the city her own).the author weaves her magical spell for lovers of all things ancient and Roman.

Lindsey Davis herself admits that the Roman setting deterred publishers for ten years. I cannot for the life of me wonder why. There are many novels (thank goodness) set in the Roman period and nobody does it better than Davis. She also admits that the time she spent researching this novel gave her the idea for the Falco series.

The Course of Honour is set in one of the most troublesome times in Rome's history. The death of Vespasian's wife, Flavia Domitilla has allowed him to reform a relationship with his former mistress Antonia Caenis, a former slave and now a freedwoman who had been secretary to Antonia, Marc Anthony's daughter. She remained his wife in all but name even after he became Emperor and was instrumental in many of the decisions that he made. The old saying that behind every great man there is a woman was never truer than with this pair of lovers.
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VINE VOICEon 5 June 2007
Unlike her other novels, this is not a murder mystery, but a novel about the romance between Antonia Caenis and Vespasian, which lasted from their youth when she was a slave and he was the son of a provincial tax collector, and lasted until her death when he was Emperor of Rome and she lived openly as his freedwoman consort (he could not under Roman law marry a freedwoman). Funny, engaging and horrible in places (as is inevitably going to be the case in a novel set in the times of the Julio-Claudians), this is for me a more interesting read than the Falco whodunnits, which I quite like but find a bit too superficial compared to the murder mysteries of Steven Saylor.
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on 7 June 2000
You know, Lindsay Davies has an awful lot to answer for: indeed she has got me into reading ancient history. I have gone from ancient Rome and her very entertaining and informative Falco series, to Greece and latterly, Egypt.
Responsible in no small part for all for all of this is this book - a little different from the Falco series but it complements and develops an historical aspect of Falco's times. (If you haven't yet met Marcus Didius Falco, it's high time you did - highly recommended).
However don't be put off; this is no dry history of Emperor Vespasian and his life-long mistress (and love) Caenis, but a living, lively and at times a moving account of very real people.
Buy it - read it - love it.
Thank you, Lindsay, you've done it again!
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on 14 February 2007
I've had this book ever since it was published, and I reread it once a year at least. It is well written and a touching love story. Caenis comes over as a feisty woman, an earthier version of Helena from the Falco series perhaps; and I really enjoy reading the history behind the distant figure of Vespasian mentioned in the Falco series.

I am glad that there are authors out there like Lindsey Davis who keep me entertained and enlightened.
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on 25 June 2012
A credible and entertaining view of Valentinian's progress to the throne and life at the lowest end of Roman society. I found myself both convinced and questioning. "Yes, this is the way it was" on one hand, and yet wanting to know more of the seamy side of Roman life for those at the bottom layers, on the other.
Well worth the time and energy.
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on 2 February 2016
This is a fictional story about Antonia Caenis. Very little is actually known about her, but she is mentioned in a couple of later histories as being a freedwoman of Antonia minor and the long term lover of the emperor Vespasian, with whom she lived openly after his wife died ( it was illegal for him - a citizen - to marry a freedwoman). Even for the time, this seems to point to an extraordinary story of two strong people.
Lindsey Davis has taken this basic information, and the facts known about Vespasian himself (itself quite limited) and woven an immensely enjoyable story around it. Slightly unusual in style - in that at times it reads like a non-fiction work - it is very engaging, and Davis has created two very likeable - and real - characters. Caenis also features in Robert Fabbri's ongoing series about the life of Vespasian, and in those works their relationship continues throughout their lives. Here, the author has their relationship end when Vespasian marries, and only resume on the death of his wife nearly twenty years later. This is a mixed blessing; you lose twenty years of their relationship, but it does allow Davis to fully develop Caenis as a substantial, independent character, and in the end I think it works really well.
In the end this is a love story, set against a turbulent political background which intrudes more and more on the lives of the main characters. But it remains grounded and real and is a great read. In many ways it is a shame that we will probably never know the real story.
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on 18 July 2013
The Falco books have given me much pleasure over the last few years and it was whilst searching for something new that I stumbled across this book. I've read other stories about Vespasian and Caenis so knew roughly what to expect. What sets this book apart is how strongly you feel about both of the main characters throughout the story. Whatever obstacles Rome chooses to put in their way they overcome in a powerful love story which spans decades.

It's a compelling read and, Falco fan or not. you won't be disappointed. Thank you Lindsey for an amazing book.
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on 8 May 2009
Probably the best introduction to Davis' works, "The course of honour" skips lightly over some of the most tumultous and gory of Roman times, using this chaos as a frame for an all too human romance which twinkles with wit and steers clear of cloying sentimentality. The narrative moves at a refreshingly brisk pace whilst preserving many details of Roman life that fascinate and bristle with genuine humour.
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on 24 October 2013
A wonderful touching tale imagined around real historical people and events. After reading this wonderful touching story I gained a much better understanding of the turbulent history of Rome in the 1st century AD.

This book while not a Marcus Didius Falco novel it fills in historical background against which the fictional detective operates.

Read it and enjoy!
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on 7 April 2001
. When the story begins, the Emperor is Tiberius, and the main character, Caenis is a young slave girl. But Caenis, clever and determined, works her way up, and ascends to heights unheard of for a Roman slave. In history, she is known as the one woman who had power over the Emperor Vespasian. The book is an enthralling journey, filled with extremely interesting emperors (generally mad). So even if your not a fan of Roman history, just like 'I, Claudius', this is one that will appeal to everyone.
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