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4.6 out of 5 stars
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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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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 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 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 7 July 2015
This is a novel as substitute for facts which cannot now be known about real people and events some two millennia ago. Very little is known about Caenis, mistress to the emperor Flavian, so in stead of facts we are treated to some imagination. LD is one of our more talented modern authors, and her imaginings are well worth the reading, even this early in her career and whether historically accurate or not.
The book itself is a fine demonstration of how competitive the field of historical romance can be, being unpublished for quite a time despite its being very good. It was published only after the Falco series was well under way, and showing just what a success ancient Rome could become.
Small wonder that it should be well liked by its author (and by me) despite it having been rather over-shadowed by the series to which it gave rise.
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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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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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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 2 August 2013
There is never any question of a Lindsey Davis novel being anything other than well-written and meticulously researched. Even when you have read and fully absorbed all the Falco books (we have them all) you can still immerse yourself in the life of everyday Rome with all its good and bad points. Another great book which comes highly recommended.
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