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Why the Roman Empire fell
on 15 December 2010
This is simply awful.
Let me be clear. I have been a longtime fan of Steven Saylor. The first two thirds of his Roma sub Rosa series about Gordianus the Finder are brilliant.
My problem with Saylor really began with Roma, the first in his pompous new series about ancient Rome, and really brings Empire to a halt. What seems to have happened is that Saylor has done huge amounts of research and feels the need to ensure everyone knows it. As a result the book - as far as I had to heart to read it anyway - is a long series of dialogues when a character can't just say what is happening - it has to be then explained in terms of what the history of the person/place/event is, what the colour of their clothes were - what the metaphysical or allegorical omens of the day were. All of which simply seems to say "Aren't I clever with what I know.." But you really just want to shout at the page "Get on with it".
Because Saylor's writing style is so ponderous and exasperating quite what the story is becomes meaningless. To his credit (hence two stars)he's trying to tell the story of ancient Rome from birth to death through one family line. But by now you just don't care. I'm saddened to say I couldn't finish this - and hope the charity shop at least makes some money from my misery.
If you want to read really classy stories about Rome read Robert Harris, or go back to Robert Graves and I Claudius. Give Saylor a very wide miss. Sorry.