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Roma by Steven Saylor

Roma (2007)

by Steven Saylor

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Novels of Ancient Rome (1)

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1,0046313,210 (3.65)76
"Spanning a thousand years, and following the shifting fortunes of two families though the ages, this is the epic saga of Rome, the city and its people."--From source other than the Library of Congress

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Showing 1-5 of 60 (next | show all)
Roma is a historical novel that spans the history of Rome from the earliest times (pre-city, pre-history) to the end of the Republic. It does this by following the descendents of two people through the stages of history. The people themselves in each generation have mostly forgotten their family's past history, but we know it, and they know bits and pieces that have passed into legend or rumor, or morphed into something else. The book borrows freely from historical sources and archaeology to tell the best stories, with imaginative detail and threads that tie it all together.

I read this book in preparation for a trip, and it made me fascinated to see the layers of history in that place. Fascinated so maybe the fascinum in the book was working? Great read. ( )
  aquariumministry | Aug 26, 2019 |
B-O-R-I-N-G...it is so heartbreaking that I found this book so boring. I love early Roman history, and never thought I would find any form of it boring. But I was wrong. Also, the audiobook narration is cringe-worthy at times. ( )
  tntbeckyford | Feb 16, 2019 |
Steven Saylor definitely took on a huge task when he chose to write a novelized history of Rome from the viewpoint of one of the oldest patrician families, but least-known in modern times --- the Pinarii, and their cousins the Potitii. The novel touches on the important turning-points of Rome's history, when members of the Pinarii or the Potitii are constantly being caught up in momentous events --- the sack of Rome by Gauls, the Carthaginian wars, the campaign of Scipio, the dictatorship of Sulla, and so on --- and actually living the events, with the uncertainty and awe of a person caught up in the middle of something with no idea how it will end. The Pinarius or Potitius central to each episode of the book is our main character but not history's main character, and as the family descends through time and is influenced by past character's actions, so are we as readers. This is half-story, half-history, in the Livian vein and a great homage to Livy's history of Rome. The facts are mostly solid, and if two "facts" were available, well we are writing a novel here, not a textbook, and we (the writer) are allowed to pick whichever one fits the story we want to tell the best. I feel compelled now to check a few of Saylor's facts, like was Julius Caesar's sister Julia really married to a Pinarius, or has Saylor made that up out of whole cloth; because if all these occurrences of Pinarii and Potitii were Saylor has them occurring are documentable fact, then Saylor's masterful filling-in-of-the-blanks is even more refined and elegant than I thought.

The source material Saylor lists in the book's Afterword is also excellent, including his use of T.P. Wiseman's [b:Remus A Roman Myth|1315802|Remus A Roman Myth|T.P. Wiseman|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1182703905s/1315802.jpg|1305104] as source material on the pre-foundation history of Rome and the various foundation myths. I cannot praise enough this decision on Saylor's part. Saylor's Remus was not a carbon copy of Wiseman's Remus, but many of Wiseman's observations seem to have influenced Saylor's character creation, and his imagination of the earliest layout of the city. Whereas Wiseman deals academically with the Romulus & Remus story, Saylor says to himself "How can I make this plausible in the real world, not the world of myth?" and then he goes and does so. I can't say enough, even in the review of a different book, about the value of Wiseman's work on Remus to classical scholars; and if you are going to take on the task of tackling Saylor's Roma, then Wiseman's Remus: A Roman Myth will subsequently be no trouble at all and might help the reader flesh out the pre-historic Roman world as presented by Saylor. The one is so clearly, and well, informed by the other.

The omniscient narration of Roma does not have the same voice as the character-centric narration of Saylor's Gordianus the Finder mystery series, for which I am truly grateful. The writing style employed for mysteries would not suit a larger work such as Roma. Different genres require different approaches, and it is not every writer who can go from one to another easily and successfully. The tone and style of Roma is suitable to a long fiction work with many characters and a complex plot full of details. The book has been broken up into historical episodes, loosely based on a single generation of characters, but of course the common thread running through all the episodes is the family being focussed on (usually the Pinarii). You only need to worry about one Lucius Pinarius at a time, which is a relief, as Romans were not very creative namers and you tended to get two or three of every name in a single generation. When one Lucius Pinarius thinks back to the actions of another Lucius Pinarius, Saylor says something like "Lucius remembered that his great-great-grandfather, also named Lucius Pinarius, did such-and-such or knew so-and-so," and that is enough to jog the reader's memory: "Oh yeah, I remember that," or "Oh my gosh kid, you are so misinformed!" But as misinformation (or lies?) from a previous generation become enshrined in popular memory, they become historical fact, and it seems to me that in the book itself Saylor has found a way to comment on the veracity (or not) of the historical "facts" we're operating with today. Did it really happen the way we think it did? Or is there a historical truth there that will never come to light? And how does knowing that is a possibility change the way we view history itself?

In short: This may be a bit overwhelming for the Roman history novice, who isn't vaguely familiar with the people and places Saylor employs in his narrative. There's a lot in this book to soak up. If you aren't daunted by that, all the better for you. For the reader fairly familiar with Roman history, especially the the early books of Livy and the half-forgotten period of the Kings and the early Republic, my recommendation is "have at with abandon, you will love this." ( )
  mrsmarch | Nov 28, 2018 |
I really loved this book. I am a huge historical fiction reader, so this was right up my alley. I love the tracing of a huge part of Roman history from the beginning of hunter and gathers to the emperors of Rome with Caesar. Its a huge read, so make sure you have the time, but it is so well worth it. ( )
  Bethgarvinloflin1 | Jul 2, 2018 |
I did not like this one. It was too dark for me. I prefer a bit more optimism about humans. ( )
  TanyaRead | Apr 28, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 60 (next | show all)
Like James Michener, Saylor the novelist (A Gladiator Dies Only Once, 2005, etc.) is upstaged by Saylor the historian—except when he suggests that history itself is fact-based fiction.
added by Christa_Josh | editKirkus Reviews (Feb 1, 2007)
This work will attract a different fan base from Saylor's other work (e.g., Arms of Nemesis ) but should prove appealing to history and political buffs who enjoy comparing our current events with ancient Rome
added by Christa_Josh | editLibrary Journal, Mary K. Bird-Guilliams (Feb 1, 2007)
Author of the critically acclaimed Roma Sub Rosa series of historical mysteries, Saylor (The Judgment of Caesar) breaks out on an epic scale in this sprawling novel tracing Rome's extraordinary development over five centuries, as seen through the eyes of succeeding generations of one of its founding families.
added by Christa_Josh | editPublishers Weekly (Nov 27, 2006)

» Add other authors (6 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Steven Saylorprimary authorall editionscalculated
Hjukström, CharlotteTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To the shade of Titus Livius, known in English as Livy, who preserved for us the earliest tales of earliest Rome.
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As they rounded a bend in the path that ran beside the river, Lara recognized the silhouette of a fig tree atop a nearby hill.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
Spanning a thousand years, and following the shifting fortunes of two families though the ages, this is the epic saga of Rome, the city and its people.
Weaving history, legend, and new archaeological discoveries into a spellbinding narrative, critically acclaimed novelist Steven Saylor gives new life to the drama of the city's first thousand years -- from the founding of the city by the ill-fated twins Romulus and Remus, through Rome's astonishing ascent to become the capitol of the most powerful empire in history. Roma recounts the tragedy of the hero-traitor Coriolanus, the capture of the city by the Gauls, the invasion of Hannibal, the bitter political struggles of the patricians and plebeians, and the ultimate death of Rome's republic with the triumph, and assassination, of Julius Caesar.
Witnessing this history, and sometimes playing key roles, are the descendents of two of Rome's first families, the Potitius and Pinarius clans: One is the confidant of Romulus. One is born a slave and tempts a Vestal virgin to break her vows. One becomes a mass murderer. And one becomes the heir of Julius Caesar. Linking the generations is a
mysterious talisman as ancient as the city itself.
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