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on 18 April 2009
These books have been a revelation to my 10 year old son, whose favourite subject is History. When he started reading them he became hooked immediately, even though he hadn't been keen to start reading the first one, as he didn't like the description of them, especially the fact that there was a heroine rather then a hero! He had been a reluctant though competent reader and now he is an avid reader with a reading age of 15. The books are involving, exciting, and very educational(without appearing to be for the child) and teach a lot of mythology, history, classics and even Greek and Latin words. If my husband or I read a chapter to him at bedtime we are also hooked and end up reading on ourselves. The subject matter can be quite adult though, as in this book, and I would not recommend it for any younger than a mature 10 year old- it hints at dark subject matter like child abuse and deals with kidnapping and other crimes that could give a sensitive child nightmares, for instance in previous books there have been very gory descriptions of killings etc. However this of course is just the thing to hook boys like mine in, as they love reading gory things, and it does seem removed from real life as it is set such a long time ago. We hear that the next book will also be the last in the series and don't know what we will do! Any recommendations for the next book or series to read anyone?
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on 3 February 2009
This new book from Caroline Lawrence is once again quite an accomplishment. It goes back to previous themes including the Colossus of Rhodes. The book charts the trek across Asia of Flavia Gemina and co to find missing children,taken by a not so evil slave dealer and his bodyguard, and along the way they encounter christianity in its early days. The flowing book is sown with intresting facts yet does not bore you. Will the children ever be the same again? find out by reading the book.
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on 23 August 2010
I am a huge fan of the Roman Mysteries series, both in book form and TV adaption. These books take something of the concept of the Famous Five (four child detectives and a dog, tracking down criminals and solving mysteries) and sets it in the ancient Roman empire. This is a gritty and realistic ancient empire though, and as such it is highly educational, very exciting and a really good read.

In this book the children are far from home, travelling the ancient Roman province of asia minor, in pursuit of a slave dealer.

The story is first class, and brings together some threads of earlier novels.
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on 23 March 2009
I loved ths book. It was a thriller and a page turner. I just wish that when I finished it I could read 110000 more books like this. But these series are unique!
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on 13 January 2010
My daughter and I have been following Caroline Lawrence's Roman Mystery series since they were first published and feel that this is probably the best yet. Good plot, well-paced, kept us guessing right up to the end. Looking forward to reading the next title.
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on 14 April 2009
I cannot recommend this book highly enough. As always, Lawrence has seamlessly woven into her work a wealth of historical details, and in this particular book, biblical allusions. Instead of being intrusive, these details only add to the depth and fullness of the novel. Everything is very accurate, and even the most casual reader is sure to pick up some historical knowledge (though he or she may not realize it at the time!). The Prophet from Ephesus offers the reader an intriguing glimpse into early Christianity as well. Without being preachy or cheesy, Lawrence addresses issues of Jonathan's faith that have needed to be resolved.

A distinctive characteristic that sets her books apart from other historical fiction is her knack for describing settings. Lawrence does not simply rely on visual details--she paints a multisensory masterpiece of scent, sight, and sound that swiftly draws the reader into the novel. When reading her descriptions of places, one receives the impression that Lawrence has been there before (and she has). All of her books have this remarkable quality, but The Prophet from Ephesus is beyond exceptional in this regard.

As far as the plot goes, the series is clearly arcing towards an imminent climax. Romance, excitement and tension climb higher and higher, and at the end of the book, the reader is left hanging off a cliff. Personally, I am torn between longing for the next book to come out, and not wanting the series to ever end!

The Roman Mysteries may be children's books, but in no way does Caroline Lawrence dumb them down for her audience. C. S. Lewis once said, "A children's story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children's story in the slightest." By that criterion, The Prophet from Ephesus is a definite success.
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on 18 October 2011
As usual the research is astounding, putting many adult historical novelists to shame (Conn Iggudlen comes to mind). The description and accuracy to detail is faultless, the twists and turns of the plot are exciting to keep the reader interested and wondering what will happen next. What I like about Caroline Lawrence is that her books are practical, she doesn't conform to the clichés of a happy ending or shying away from such issues as sex. All of this goes to make the Roman Mysteries a unique and interesting and accurate children's novel set in ancient Rome and a must read for all people of all ages. However the reason this book didn't get the full 5 stars is the principle characters (save for Flavia thank god, no pun intended conversion to Christianity. Now Lupus I can understand living with Jonathan and learning to control his anger and forgive his uncle for what he did, how that can lead to Christianity and I do find his conversion authentic albeit with the feeling of light, god's love etc it could be portrayed more realistically, he felt calm, relaxed etc. Nubia too with some thought yes I can see, she likes animals and Romano-Greco Polytheism demanded animal sacrifice though should this make her a vegetarian too? But she likes goat and camel stew but anyway that aside I can see why Nubia would find Christianity perhaps appealing. What I cant understand however is Aristo's conversation; a classical Greek scholar well versed in Homer and a frequent visitor to the temple of Aphrodite? His conversion was rushed in "I've spent 3 days with this fisherman and i'm now converted and all my lifelong teachings and beliefs have gone out of the window." Now maybe in the bible this would happen but Caroline Lawrence has hitherto treated her audience with the intelligent respect they deserve and for this I greatly admired her but I found this book to be very preachy, it seemed to convey the idea that all good characters were Christians and that the faith could turn the most evil person good. Now while this can happen and is a fundamental part of the Christian faith in what has been a rather balanced series of books religious wise to date it deviates from her normal accuracy in portraying characters and situations that feel real. The only consolation is that Flavia, at least, remains Polythenic and can at least give us the "pagans" view on events which was the majority view and belief at that time. I liked how in "The Beggar from Voulbilis" her attachment to Isis was shown in a dream that could be taken as a vision or just a dream, if the Christian conversions had been treated in a similar way in this novel than I think it would have worked much more effectively and feel more authentic.
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on 29 January 2009
The Prophet From Ephesus is the latest book in the Roman Mysteries series, and is the penultimate one. It is an outstanding read, full of wonder, suspense and surprise. The book is set in Halicarnassus, the Roman province of Asia, and the four friends are once again solving a mystery. Not only have hundreds of children been kidnapped, but Jonathan's nephew is also among the taken. They set out on a journey to find them, meeting mysterious characters on the way, including prophets and slave-dealers. With this main plot, there are many sub-plots cleverly woven in, and the book has a surprising ending. Altogether, this is an amazing book, and I am sad that there is only one more book to come!
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on 12 February 2009
This series evolves with the maturity of the four protagonists. Carolyn Lawrence is also maturing with her plots and themes, and this one is a leap up from the previous book in the challenges, experiences and decisions of the four friends. I was not expecting the plot and development twists in this one at all. While one may reasonably doubt that any set of children in the Roman era could ever have had so many experiences and lived to tell the tale, the settings and culture they pass through always ring very true. I would have liked for the friends to have spent more time in some of the places; Flavia would have been a natural in the library of Alexandria, for example; could she have become one of the great librarians? (maybe she'll travel back there in the future)
While these look like children's or young adults books I long ago recommended them to my friends also interested in Roman history and culture.
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on 13 January 2013
A must for all Roman mystery fans!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I liked this book more then the any other Roman mystery book . This book takes loads of twists and turns and how Lupus,Nubia, Aristo and Jonathan become Christian it Is a must read
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