George V. Reilly

Review: Roma

Title: Roma
Author: Steven Saylor
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ½
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Copyright: 2007
Pages: 592
Keywords: historical fiction
Reading period: 16-26 April, 2008

Steven Saylor is best known for his Roma Sub Rosa series of detective novels about Gordianus the Finder, set in ancient Rome.

Roma is a Mich­eneresque saga, spanning 1000BC to 1BC, in a dozen vignettes following the holders of an ancient amulet. Starting with a crossroads frequented by traders, it shows the evolution of Rome from a village to the great power of the Mediter­ranean, led by Augustus Caesar, the first of the emperors. It’s an easy in­tro­duc­tion to much of Roman history, but the episodic nature of the story means that we see only fragments of that history. Each of the characters introduced nec­es­sar­i­ly gets cursory treatment, leading to a disjointed set of short stories.

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