First in the Gordianus the Finder historical mystery series set in 80 B.C. Rome. Gordianus is approached by a new, young advocate (lawyer) who is representing a man accused of killing his father, an almost unheard of crime at the time. Cicero is certain he's innocent and hires Gordianus to investigate. Within a short time, attempts are made on Gordianus' life, his home is ransacked, and a major political plot involving the deputy of the emperor Sulla begins to unfold. Enjoyable and well-done book with a gritty, realistic approach to the historical aspects; Saylor makes no move to cover up the hellish side of living in a slave-driven society. There was a bit of pre-occupation with sex in this book, but I was able to overlook that and enjoy the book anyway. LOL Looking forward to the next.
Saylor is clearly a historian. If it's not obvious in his reader's notes, it's apparent in his clear delivery of accurate and compelling historical detail. You can almost see the dark dilapidation of the Roman Subura that is as hazardous as it is teeming with life, or see the immaculate scene of Carthage on the Rostra, or imagine the men in togas sitting around the Senate. What Saylor does is bring Rome to life, but not without insult and credit where credit is due. He doesn't present a Rome that is glorious and magnificent as some are prone to do, but neither does it portray it as a place irredeemably corrupt as others would have it. Saylor gives his readers Rome in all her shameless glory without falling into some one of the most common traps of those who attempt to write historical fiction. A tendency of most historical writers is to accentuate what is 'abnormal' by today's standards because they imagine it will help people understand the time period more, or respect it for how different it is, but this often backfires. I like how Saylor did not give excuses for Rome, but didn't gloss over the many faults. Details are presented in an easy and matter of fact way, which I found helped me get into the time period more simply because it was all given so casually.
Roman Blood is not a 'great men of Rome' sort of book, though it does feature many of the people we know: Cicero and Sulla to name a few. They all play their roles, as great men do, but without stealing the spotlight. Gordianus is a great character because he is likable, realistic and humble. And very Roman. I also quite like the portrayal of Cicero in Roman Blood because I think it captured his peculiarities perfectly while still redeeming him at the end when it was shown to Gordianus the doubter that Cicero is more than just a picky nag and really is one of the greatest statesmen.
Roman Blood is as much mystery as it is historical fiction. It's full of murder, perversion, ruthlessness, and doubt. There are enough twists and turns to make the plot interesting while not so many that you lose sense of the thing. In the end, you come to understand that everyone is guilty of something in some way and even an 'innocent' man has committed plenty of crimes of his own.
The writing is excellent and combines history with mystery resulting in an engrossing story. The main character is witty and likeable as he "finds" or solves the mystery. I really enjoyed this book!
This is the third novel I've read by this author and the first in his Gordianus the Finder series. He really is able to bring the Pre-Roman Empire era to life with his careful and crafty way of weaving historical figures into his writing. This was a great, fun read.
Superb book of ancient Rome. I have read all his books. You get the look and feel of ancient Rome. Gordianus is a wonderful main character. You grow to care about him. Mr. Saylor weaves in many historical characters and events. If you like Ancient Rome this is the series for you.