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Roman Blood (Roma Sub Rosa)
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on 17 May 2017
Not exactly what you might call a sack-full of laughs given that ancient Rome was a pretty horrible slave-based place but if you have an interest in the Roman Era reading one of Steven Saylor's Roman novels is like going back there in a time machine. Make sure if you do go back there though that you take loads of cash, and even then you will have to watch yourself, especially if Rome is under the thrall of the Emperor/Dictator, Sulla. This, the first novel in the 'Gordianus' series is based around and inside, the actual famous, or infamous, parricide case where the son involved was defended by a young advocate just starting out on his career by the name of Marcus Tullius Cicero. Needing background information on the case Cicero hires a Phillip Marlowe of ancient Rome, Gordianus the Finder, to delve into things. What Gordianus finds, and the dangers he faces when he probes the sordid underbelly of Rome will keep you turning the pages right to the end. Is the son charged with killing his own father and facing an awful punishment guilty or innocent? Read Steven Sayler's 'Roman Blood' and find out.
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on 27 March 2017
Great series of books are really about the characters and our wish to travel with them on a journey . Gordianus the finder is one such.
Historical novels success depends on the believable positioning of the characters into events of history and Steven Saylor has done a great job positioning Gordianus along side Cicero and the documented history of his trials.
As a roman sleuth Saylor has a character who is different but compares well with Morse , Spenser and Holmes a man who looks at beyond the obvious, seeking the truth.
This is my second time of reading these books after a gap of 5 years and the test is passed , they are just as good second time.
I'm looking forward to the rest of the series.
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on 15 November 2012
There are so many sword and sandal books around at the moment, many of them so similar, that it is difficult to tell them apart. Well, here is something that is definitely different.
Whilst set in Rome, and based around real events and people, the main character - Gordianus the Finder - is a really great fictional creation. The nearest equivalent today would perhaps be the fictional American private eye; he is called in to find out the sordid details when the lawyers and aristocrats can't or won't get their hands dirty.
The author has a real flair for period detail, explaining Roman society, law, customs and people without it seeming like a lecture; it all comes out in passing, which is quite a literary feat.
The factual content of the story is handled well, and the fictional elements are blended seamlessly. I loved the book, and have high hopes for future instalments.
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on 10 May 2012
I really enjoyed this novel, which from the outset submerges you into the sights, sounds, smells and intrigues of ancient Rome.

The main character Gordianus is a well developed, well written and original character, who I found to be totally engaging. I suppose a 'finder' would be an early equivalent of a consulting detective and Gordianus is a worthy forerunner of the myriad of such characters who may have preceded him into print, but follow him in historical timeline.

It was refreshing to read a 'Roman' novel whose main character was not a legionary, politician, general and so on. If you, as I do, enjoy historical fiction or a murder mystery then you will certainly enjoy this book.

The writing was excellent, the plot totally captivating and the research meticulous and authentic.
OK, so enough superlatives.

In short I highly recommend this novel and will most certainly be seeking out the rest in this series.
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on 4 April 2016
The story was fine, the setting very good but unfortunately the ponderous style of the author dissipated any tension in the story. Throughout the book the description of situations and characters are overdone. A point is well made, then expanded on, then expanded on some more and more again. The book starts slowly then stutters along to a rather underwhelming conclusion. Didn't do it for me.
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on 1 June 2016
Very impressed with this book. This is the first Steven Saylor I have read and will certainly continue with this series.
Giordano is an interesting detective. Good plot, well researched Roman backdrop and a fascinating cast of characters.
Highly recommended.
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on 20 August 2013
I had not come across this author before and I am mightily impressed. His descriptive writing is very good, I could visualise the sights (and smells) of ancient Rome quite clearly. If I have a slight criticism is that he can be a little long winded at times but these digressions are well worth reading and do have a part in the story. The story itself makes a rattling good read with a satisfying twist to wind things up. The chracterizations are particularly strong and I think this would make an excellent film. I shall certainly be reading more of the sub rosa titles.
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on 22 June 2013
If you like detective stories and you also like historical novels woven into historical fact then this series is for you.
I've read some of the later books in this series, but each of the Gordianus books is a story in it's own right, so this didn't detract from my enjoyment.
Specifically, I felt "Roman Blood" was just a tiny bit slow moving, but you can argue that this allows Saylor to more fully develop his characters.
This is an excellent author and I intend to read the remainder of his work.
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on 6 April 2013
I decided to re-read this book after having read "Imperium" which was written from Tiro's point of view, and I was generally interested in Cicero's earlier years as history only concentrates on later cases like the Catiline Conspiracy, Ciceros consulship and his role in the civil war. Hence reading about his early life as a "nobody from Arpinum" was quite fascinating. Saylor perfects the art of combining a gripping whodunit with historical facts, which all in all results in a very sophisticated but equally entertaining read. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone interested in historical fiction, or whodunits in general.
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on 7 February 2014
It's refreshing to read a book placed in the Roman Republic where familiar actions and behaviour are set in a believable setting. There are no false heroics from Gordianus but we slowly come to respect his jaded view on people and life in the late republic.

Nobody emerges from this book uncompromised and its part of the humanity of Saylor that we don't automatically moralise or sneer at the imagined failings of these flawed characters. Truly enjoyable yarn.
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