Generally I don't get on well with historical novels. The ancient world is my hobby, and I'm geekish enough to get annoyed at the many ways the writers get things wrong. I tried several of the big-name writers who set their yarns in the Roman Empire, and they left me cold.
So now I usually avoid these things like the plague, and I can't even remember why on earth I ever picked up my first Steven Saylor novel.
However, once I started the first in the 'Roma sub Rosa' series I was hooked almost instantly. When I read one of these, I don't just feel that I've read a cracking detective story (which I have); I don't just feel that I've spent time in the company of characters that I like and truly care about (which I have); I also feel almost as if I've had a trip to the ancient Mediterranean, and seen the sights, smelt the smells, tasted the food...
I'm not quite sure how Saylor pulls it off. In terms of historical accuracy, he really knows his stuff, and it shows - he's even inclined to add a little afterword to tell you where he's departed from fact in the interests of the drama.
I think the answer is simply that he's a top-notch story-weaver who would excel in whatever genre he chose. I'm just glad that he chose Ancient Rome.
Highly recommended, as is anything else by this writer!
on 17 March 2014
For those of you who are already addicted to the Roma Sub Rosa series, this is another great episode. For those of you yet to have the pleasure, I urge you to read the series in order, as they really do combine to create a fantastic over-arching story.
This episode tells another great story - a bit slow at first - with a surprise that I, at least, did not see coming. Each book further develops the main characters: by this book, we know them quite well, but they can still throw up new traits.
The way the author fits his stories into real history is well-handled, and his writing is intelligent and subtle. Unfortunately I have to say that there were far too many spelling and grammatical errors in this kindle edition, but this seems so common these days it hardly seems worth complaining.
on 20 September 2014
You can always rely on a good read when you pick up a Steven Saylor book; this is particularly true of his 'Gordianus the Finder' series, which I've been glued to for a few years now, avidly following the great Roman sleuth's varied adventures, as the author describes in very concise, accurate and insightful detail the motives, actions and surroundings of the characters in each story, thus bringing the plots to life in a thought-provoking way.
on 6 July 2013
Another excellent tale of Gordianus The Finder, full of atmosphere and intrigue. Reading one of these novels is like being there back in ancient times. As a 'whodunnit' it's very good, as an historical novel of those turbulent times, it's pretty damn good too.