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Roman Blood by Steven Saylor
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Roman Blood (1991)

by Steven Saylor

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1,091297,626 (3.88)55
  1. 20
    Murder Trials by Cicero (bookfitz)
    bookfitz: For those that woud ike to learn more about the actual case at the center of this novel, the collection of Cicero's orations in "Murder Trials" contains his defence speech of Sextus Roscius.
  2. 20
    Imperium by Robert Harris (bookfitz)
    bookfitz: For more historical fiction involving Marcus Tullius Cicero, readers might also like a novel by Robert Harris called Imperium, which is the first of a trilogy.
  3. 10
    Aristotle Detective by Margaret Doody (bertilak)
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Showing 1-5 of 27 (next | show all)
This is Saylor's first novel and it shows in the way he digresses sometimes on and on about small details. But overall the pictures he paints of Rome during the Civil Wars and how the city is almost an entity all by herself is very well done.

Walking the line between the historical figures and the fictional figures can be difficult but Saylor manages to draw a compelling pictures of Cicero, his entourage, Sulla, of the whole political web of intrigues.

A little on the gory side and it's not a cozy type of mystery. Still well written and you learn a few things along the way. ( )
  writerlibrarian | Aug 25, 2013 |

Having not studied Latin or ancient history at school or university, my knowledge of the ancient world has come from reading Gore Vidal's [b:Creation|8718|Creation|Gore Vidal|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1298413662s/8718.jpg|1942722] and Robert Harris' [b:Imperium|243601|Imperium (Cicero, #1)|Robert Harris|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1173066789s/243601.jpg|1237325]. Oh, and [b:Asterix the Gaul|71292|Asterix the Gaul (Asterix, #1)|René Goscinny|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1328859702s/71292.jpg|2150655] and it's various sequels. I've also gleaned a bit from Shakespeare, although I've never been that keen on Shakespeare's histories, and while I've spent time looking at Roman ruins and ancient Roman and Greek sculptures in various places, that has not led to the acquisition of any knowledge about the history those things represent.

All this means that I came to this particular novel - the first in a series set in ancient Rome and featuring Gordianus the Finder - with very little knowledge of the time in which it is set and with no particular expectations. The first factor put me at something of a a disadvantage. The second factor was probably a plus.

Gordianus the Finder is a private detective of sorts*. He is engaged by the young Cicero to assist him in preparing the defence of Sextus Roscius, who has been accused of murdering his father. It is Cicero's first major case. The crime, the litigation and Cicero's defence of the accused are all factual, as is the political situation: specifically, the dictatorship of Sulla and the corruption of Chrysogonus, Sulla's former slave who in 82BC was placed in charge of proscriptions (that is, the identification and condemnation of enemies of the state). Saylor's imagination fills in the rest of the tale.

About three quarters of the way through the novel there is a lengthy piece of exposition - okay, let's call it an awkward information dump - which covers Sulla's rise to the position of dictator. I found it reasonably interesting at the time - because it's a topic I know nothing about - but it did interrupt the plot. Not only that, but two pages further on I couldn't remember the details of the history lesson I'd only just been taught. That was the most significant weakness of the novel. Otherwise, it was a success. The narrative is interesting and while I guessed one of the twists in the plot, I didn't guess the final big twist. In addition, the characters are well-drawn and the portrayal of Cicero made me want to read some of his works (I had the same reaction when I read [b:Imperium|243601|Imperium (Cicero, #1)|Robert Harris|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1173066789s/243601.jpg|1237325], but didn't do anything about it. This time I've downloaded an edition of his Selected Works).

Overall, this was an enjoyable read, made the more enjoyable by reading it with my friends Jemidar and Hayes. I plan to read more of the series. This one gets 3-1/2 stars.

*I find it hard not to think of Gordianus as a Private Roman Eye, which will only make sense to those who have seen or heard Wayne and Shuster's Rinse the Blood Off My Toga ( )
1 vote KimMR | Apr 2, 2013 |
An entertaining look at an actual historical trial, set in the late Roman Republic. Well written, clever interpretation, however, I do not find lawyering that exciting, so 3 stars, not 4. ( )
  Traveller1 | Mar 30, 2013 |
In spite of the fact it has taken me almost two months to read this I actually rather enjoyed it. I'm not sure of Gordianus the Finder can topple my other ancient Roman love, Marcus Didius Falco, but I am definitely going to be trying another one of these to find out. ( )
1 vote cathymoore | Jul 31, 2012 |
I feel that Roman Blood is an OK book. There is too much sex and domestic violence for my taste. Does this make it historically accurate? Yes, but it is too much information. I thought the plot movement was slow but this could be because it is a private detective story. It is not my top mystery sub-genre. Since there are few historical mysteries set in Ancient Rome, historical fiction fans may want to take a look at it. ( )
  Violette62 | Jul 24, 2012 |
Showing 1-5 of 27 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Steven Saylorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Alou, DamiánTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Figueiredo, Maria JoséTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hansen, Bent Ottosecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Heinisch, Mónikasecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hjukström, CharlotteTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Villari Gerli, Fabriziasecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wit, J.J. desecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To Rick Solomon, this book: auspicium melioris aevi
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The slave who came to fetch me on that unseasonably warm spring morning was a young man, hardly more than twenty.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0312972962, Mass Market Paperback)

Elena asks that you come to the House of Swans at once . . . Compelled by this message, the wealthy, sybaritic Sextus Roscius goes not to his harlot, but to his doom—savagely murdered by unknown assassins. In the unseasonable heat of a spring morning in 80 B.C., Gordianus the Finder is summoned to the house of Cicero, a young advocate staking his reputation on this case. The charge is patricide; the motive, a son's greed. The punishment, rooted deep in Roman tradition, is horrific beyond imagining.

Gordianus's investigation takes him through the city's raucous, pungent streets and deep into urban Umbria, unraveling layers of deceit, twisted passions, and murderous desperation. From pompous, rouged nobles to wily slaves to citizens of seemingly simple virtue, the case becomes a political nightmare. As the defense proceeds toward a devastating confrontation in the Forum, one man's fate may be threaten the very leaders of Rome itself.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:49:43 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

Rome, 80 B.C. and Cicero is about to conduct his first important case, the defense of well-heeled farmer Sextus Roscius against the charge of killing his hated father. Gordianus the finder, hired by Cicero to dig up evidence, soon learns why the elder Roscius was lured to his death.… (more)

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