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on 19 May 2008
This was a real disappointment. The beauty of Saylor's books was always the sensitive and intricate way he used the mystery stories of Gordianus the Finder to inform and enlighten the reader about Roman society and history. But Gordianus was - to me - always the heart and soul of the story. Saylor clearly knows Rome back and forward, in and out. But its fair to say recent entries in the series have begun to use Gordianus as the device rather than Rome. The low point came with Roma (not a Gordianus book) where Saylor's ambition to write a full story of Rome tried to balance names and dates with stories - much of which didn't work. The same is true here. If this is the last Gordianus book then Saylor seems to want to use it to tie up every storyline (most in two or three pages at the end. But Gordianus is almost forgotten. the "story" is terribly minor. How sad. 3 stars as even poor quality Saylor is still worth reading. But not for new readers. Go back to Roman Blood or Murder on the appian way.
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I agree with the majority of my fellow reviewer's. This leans more towards description of the history of Rome set in a particular time rather that a Murder mystery for Gordianus to solve. But what a time and what marvellous descriptions of them! I pride myself of thinking I know a lot about Rome at the time of Caesar and the great Julius himself but I was pleasantly surprised by Saylor's vivid descriptions and how he introduced me to events and major description of the times There is a `whodunit' or should that read a 'whowilldoit'? For Gordianus is tasked by Caesar's wife to find out who wants Caesar dead and the side issue of who killed Gordianus' predecessor and was it because he was getting too close to the truth? And that in it self poses another problem. Just like in 'The Day of the Jackal' by Frederick Forsyth we all know that the key figure Caesar like Degaulle does not get assassinated... well not until later.
Along the way Saylor weaves some of the major player's in Caesar's later regicide... I was particularly impressed with his depiction of Marc Antony.. Surely a figure that Saylor will use in a major book later in the Finder's later episodes (or is Saylor teasing us with Gordianus' family taking over).
All in all a cracking read. Not one of Saylor's best BUT dear reader remember that is up against some really stiff competition Saylor is THAT good. An average Saylor book beats the best of others hands down. I'd say a very satisfying book that you finish with regret that the wonderful story has ended. More please!
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Steven Saylor returns to his Gordianus series and the result, although welcome is something of a disappointment. A somewhat slender and short story offers only transitory pleasures. But Saylor is a master storyteller and sage on all things Roman, so a sub par Roma Sub Rosa novel still eclipses his many rivals. A minor entry in the series and not the best starting point for newcomers, but for completists and fans a must buy.
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on 20 August 2015
I loved this series and I'm sad to see it end. I'm now after my next Ancient Rome series to read.

What makes this series great is three things

- Saylors writing
Steven Saylor expertly crafts language to keep the reader engaged and bringing the history to life. Nothing seems forced and he effortlessly weaves in poetry, theatre and history.

- his use of history
This is no history lesson and the facts are woven into the story so superbly that it doesn't feel like a history lesson but it's not light weight even. His research is superb and grounds the whole series in reality without taking too many liberties. This isn't really an alternative history but an enjoyable use of creative licence to fill in between the gaps with a wonderful lively take

- his characterisation.
When you finish a book let alone a series and feel sad to say goodbye to the characters that's when you know that the author has made these character real. Given that by reading the series you're aware of the life of these characters ( developing from children to adults in many instances) you are heavily invested in their lives.

On the backgrounds of these triumphs of the series how does The Triumph of Caesar fair?
Far from the best I think. The beauty about many of the previous books was how the plot evolved in stages as we are brought nearer to the truth as Gordianus sniffs it out. In this book (without spoilers) the reveal feels obvious and comes all at once.
Having said that it's still so well written page to page that it's an entertaining read and frankly the series is so good that how could you not read it? When comparing it to the excellent books in the rest of the series it gets 4 stars. I can't say fairer than that!
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on 4 March 2012
I've been re reading the series and I've really enjoyed it all over again. This book is new since I last read them which was an unexpected pleasure. One downside for me in some of the previous books has been the way occasional chunky bits of history and long speeches stall the narrative flow. I disagree with other reviewers in that this book has less chunky bits: Gordianus features on nearly every page and interacts with the history around him. I enjoy exploring Rome and it's people with him and I hope there will be more books.
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on 21 March 2010
Gordianus is now getting older (don't we all) but he still manages to solve the problem. His daughter and adopted son (who both appear to be as good at deduction as Gordianus) look as though they are already in the wings and ready to take over when he does eventually 'retire'. Let's hope that he keeps going for a little while yet and then Gordianus's other adopted son Meto can record the deeds of his brother and sister.
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on 1 June 2009
It is easy to see why this book generates such a wide range of response from "love it" to "hate it". It has a different feel from most Gordianus the Finder stories, much more like a historical novel than the sort of detective story we have come to expect. Against a background of Caesar's impending triumphal processions, which will set the seal on his ascendancy in Rome, the Finder reluctantly agrees to investigate a threat to the Dictator's life though only because in doing so he hopes to identify the murderer of an old friend. That background is set out in great (and fascinating detail) as are the attitudes and behaviour of many of Rome's key public figures as seen through Gordianus's eyes. It is all very engrossing though one begins to get the feeling that crime and detection aero taking second place to the detailed historical narrative. This is reinforced by the almost dues ex machine way in which the conspirator/murderer is unmarked. I enjoyed reading this book even though I had the distinct feeling that it was a historical tale with some crime and detection thrown in, rather than a crime-detection novel whose setting was ancient Rome.
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on 12 July 2012
I see from other reviewers that this isn't the best of the books in the 'Saga of Gordianus' series. It is the first one I have actually read, so evidently I need to go back and look at earlier offerings; and I did enjoy this sufficiently in order to want to do so. I did find it a bit of a whistle-stop tour of famous people of the time, and felt I'd have liked some more in-depth characterisations in order to engage me more with some of those involved. And I wasn't too happy with the denoument, where Gordianus seems to enter into the spirit realm to find his answers! I imagine we're intended to see this as him using his powers of intuition, but the manner in which its presented isn't very clear. But again, its 2000 years ago, so maybe this is the way a detective of the time might have worked?!

Overall a good read, and the historical insight is excellent.
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VINE VOICEon 22 July 2009
I have to agree with other reviewers that this was a disappointment. Gordianus is becoming a characterless stooge at the centre of the novels, as sometimes happens with series which go on for a long time (cf Michael Dibdin's Zen), but is not inevitable (cf Dalziel & Pascoe).

The biggest problem for me, though, was how perfunctory the mystery was. The identity of the killer was obvious from an early stage.

The best aspect of the novel is Gordianus's musing over whether Caesar's life should be saved, especially when his son Meto proudly announces at the end the toll of those killed by the 'Dictator' (not a dirty word to Romans) at well over a million, which seems to put him up with the great mass murderers of history.
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on 13 November 2014
This is, as yet, the last volume in the series. The author has now gone backwards, and started writing prequels which tell of Gordianus' early life before we first met him. In my view, it is not quite up to the standards of the earlier books. The story has twists and turns, as usual, but seems a bit forced, a bit thin. In places, it has long descriptions of each of Caeser's triumphs, which to me seemed a bit too much like padding without adding anything to the story; something which is unlike Saylor. I still found it a good read, just not quite as good as many of the other books.
I am now looking forward to starting on the prequels.
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