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Customer reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
21
4.5 out of 5 stars


on 28 March 2013
This is the fourth in the series featuring Gordianus the Finder, and, for me, is a real return to form after the previous slightly disappointing episode.
Gordianus reluctantly looks into the murder of an old friend shortly after he arrives in Rome. There are many twists and turns, some historically-based, others fictional, but they blend together beautifully.
The characters of Gordianus, his family, and more frequent acquaintances, are building well through the series, and I certainly feel as if I am getting to know them - even able to predict their reactions to situations (not always accurately!)
The series is a cut above the many Roman novels currently appearing; they have an intelligence which many others lack.
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VINE VOICEon 26 July 2007
Another absorbing and brilliantly written whodunnit from Saylor's pen. This is a bit more straightforward than the preceding Catalina's Riddle, but still has plenty of twists, colourful characters, spellbinding oratory and dialogue and some horrific moments. Splendid stuff.
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on 1 January 2006
Part four in the Roma sub rosa series, Gordianus is now back in Rome and hired to investigate the murder of an Egyptian ambassador by the infamous Clodia (wouldn't you just love to meet her in the flesh? I know I would!).
As in the previous novels there's a captivating mix of fictional and historical characters (Cicero again, Marcus Caelius, Catullus!), all based on solid research and brought to us in Saylor's thoroughly enjoyable style.
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on 26 March 2004
Gordianus meets a figure from his past; an Alexandrian philosopher accompanied by a eunuch and disguised as a woman. From this bizarre starting point Saylor leads us though murder, conspiracy, disillusionment and deceit. By letting Gordianus keep his head with Clodia Saylor lets us keep ours as well; we are neither as bitter as the witty debauched poet Catullus nor as cynical as the brilliant Cicero, whose demolition of Clodia makes a fitting climax before the final twist. After being carried in Clodia's litter, after spending a night with a drunk Catullus in the Salacious Tavern, after pitying a weeping Trygonion at Clodia's party we can return to the bosom of Gordianus' unconventional family, where all is finally resolved in this most colourful of the Gordianus stories.
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on 29 January 2015
I've given the book five stars as so far I've loved all the Gordianus books I've read. Other than that I can't comment as I haven't read this book yet. I've been catching up on reading since Christmas and New Year and both the Gordianus books are sitting on my special bookshelf. They are under the heading of, 'future pleasures to enjoy'.
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on 13 April 2007
The review above is very harsh. For me this is one of the best, particularly for brilliant evocation of late-Republican life and society.

As to Cicero, yes of course the main parts of the speech are lifted from the original - but so what! The speech is compelling and Saylor makes it available outside the world of classical scholarship to thousands of people.
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on 6 March 2014
Very well written. Entertaining and at the same time highly informative about classical Rome. A rating of four stars is from me a high rating. Five stars often implies special interest. This book is for everybody, who likes mysteries and or history.
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on 8 March 2001
What Steven Saylor does for fiction is remarkable, and to such an utterly high standard that it is difficult to consider it as fiction; rather the factual accounts of the blindingly gritty muggy underworld of the last great civilization on Earth, the city of Rome, grandest of all empires. In steps one of the most amiable, intelligible, modest and bitingly cynical protagonists that has ever interfaced the realities of a novel--Gordianus the Finder, the extremist view of the human coctail, possessing characteristics of hardboiled P.I.s and the infintestimal and unequivocal knowledge of such brilliant detectives such as Sherlock Holmes. Gordianus in the truest sense, cannot be considered a cynic, more a pragmatist--one of those who believes that a cynic is just something an idealist calls a realist. Yet at times Gordianus's strengths are put to strain; yet Saylor's erudite hero always manages to pull through, even in his mid-life. "The Venus Throw" surrounds the vague tactical plot to murder Gordianus's humble philosophical mentor Dio of Alexandria. As the premise expands so does the credibility of Dio's entire innocence, and with this goes Gordianus's trust of all things ineffably Roman. Such scintillating ripostes throughout this novel(that of Eco, the once-mute son of Gordianus, and Gordianus himself) are not dry and groanworthy, but actually quite playful, and the entire novel increases into the farcically ironic region when such scintillating and witty characters such as Trygonian the little gallus and Catullus (the novel's best protagonist, besides that of Gordianus) enter the ancient, gladiator-sprawled buttress-pocked arena. Cicero provides the reader with some intricately devious methods of how to fundamentally backstab and insult whilst still insinuating his rhetoric in such a way for people to consider it as a complement; and Marcus Caelius, the so-called 'most curious figure in History' gives the audience an acute view of a prebubescent genius's mind. Gordianus is still as sharp as a constantly whetted scythe, just as ever, and albeit he can be lead slightly off the track (just as the reader can) it just ensures the audience will desire to find out more about the complexities of Dio's esoteric murder, which is steeped in colour as black as death... And yet, despite the equilibrium between the utter hilarity of Catullus's crass doggerel, and the insipid plots of Caelius, we find Gordianus juxtaposed between a rock and a hard place--should he trust his beloved family, or Clodia, the most erotic woman in Rome? Or should he stick to his own gut instincts? Superb Saylor, almost impeccable, and forsooth: something with an intrinsic moral.
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on 9 February 2013
I brought the books in paperback version initially, now I've got them on my kindle. Great story lines and a rip roaring read, you feel you're part of Roman history. Love the diverse family and the plots woven around historical events.
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on 15 November 2013
Saylor's research enables him to mix history and fiction in an innovative and entertaining manner. Truth is stranger than fiction and the author succeeds in brilliantly and seamlessly merging his fictitious finder into the history.
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