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False God of Rome (Vespasian) Paperback – 1 Aug 2013
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A stonking read. -- Classic FM Robert Fabbri has a winner on his hands. * The BookPlank * Fabbri's Vespasian novels have been creating quite a stir. * The History Girls *
The third instalment of Robert Fabbri's bestselling Vespasian series. Action, adventure and battle: rebellions in the provinces, murders and political manoeuvrings in the Eternal City - and a mission to steal one of the greatest artefacts of the ancient world.See all Product description
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Unlike some other reviewers, I think his treatment of early Christianity, and Paul in particular, made an interesting sub-plot. They would indeed have been seen by the authorities as a group of trouble makers - one amongst many - and dealt with accordingly.
Overall, an interesting read, and a good addition to the series. It did seem at times as though the author was filling time until he could get back to Vespasian's military career, which I suspect will follow in the next volume.
Robert Fabbri has a remarkable knack of bringing the ancient Roman world to life. Quite apart from his dexterity in recreating the lost cities of Rome and Egypt, he captures brilliantly, and horrifically, the most awful terror that Caligulan Rome must have held for its ruling classes. In the second book of the series, Rome's Executioner (Vespasian), Tiberius is presented as I've never seen him before in fiction and its power gave me nightmares. Through the preceding two novels we have watched Caligula grow up as Vespasian's friend. We have the power of hindsight denied to Vespasian but during this third novel Vespasian finally confronts the reality. We have also enjoyed Vespasian's relationship with the matriarch of Rome, Antonia, but all that means nothing when her grandson Caligula assumes power. This is the value of a series following the life of one man. We have begun to know the men and women around them and what becomes of them is all the more poignant and horrifying for it. What this reign of terror does to Vespasian is a strong theme - there have to be ugly compromises.
The lightness here comes from the relationship between Vespasian and Caenis, the slave of Antonia. The darkness, though, comes in the unmistakeable form of Caligula. False God of Rome is not my favourite of the series - that would be the marvellous Rome's Executioner - but that is mostly because of Caligula himself. A truly odious individual, his perversion is brought home to me here more immediately than Suetonius ever managed.
Wonderfully written, with the pace of a runaway train (and with a fantastic opening), False God of Rome is a fine addition to the series. I'll just be relieved when Vespasian emerges on the other side. Mind you, you know what that means? Not just Claudius but Nero! I am grateful for the review copy.
To top it all the story doesn't really contain the heroic elemenst necessary to maintain suspense. I was continually waiting for the climax of the story only to find there wasn't one. Caligula's headlong gallop over the bridge he had built across the bay of Naples and its aftermath just didn't provide any moment that allowed the hero to be a hero. The hero has to save the day and Vespassian just didn't have any part to play. To make Vespassian have any role at all Fabbri had to concoct a story about him saving his uncle from drowning - and even then he had help from his brother and the boat's crew.
Will I read the next episode? Probably, but it if Vespassian doesn't become the hero of the hour then it will be the last one I'll be reading.
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Well researched and excellent story-telling. A clever blend of fact and 'what might have happened' keeps the action rolling strong; a gret way to...Read more