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Arms of Nemesis: A Novel of Ancient Rome [Mass Market Paperback]

Steven Saylor
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Feb. 15 2001 St. Martin's Minotaur Mysteries (Book 2)
The hideously disfigured body was found in the atrium. The only clues are a blood-soaked cloak, and, carved into the stone at the corpse's feet, the word Sparta . . . The Overseer of Marcus Crassus's estate has been murdered, apparently by two slaves bent on joining Spartacus's revolt. The wealthy, powerful Crassus vows to honor an ancient law and have his ninety-nine remaining slaves slaughtered in three days. Gordianus the Finder is summoned from Rome by a mysterious client to find out the truth about the murder before the three days are up.

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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Set in 72 B.C., during the slave revolt led by Spartacus, Saylor's ( Roman Blood ) second historical mystery follows Roman PI Gordianus the Finder to the resort of Baiae on the Bay of Naples. The cousin and factotum of Marcus Licinius Crassus, the wealthiest man in Rome, has been bludgeoned to death, apparently by two slaves who have run away. An ancient Roman law decrees that when a master is killed by a slave, the remainder of the household's slaves must be slaughtered. Gordianus and his adopted son Eco have three days to find the real murderer and save the villa's other 99 slaves. A convoluted plot reveals fraud, embezzlement and arms smuggling (spears and swords traded for silver and jewels); sensuously written subplots hinge on arcanic poisons and clandestine love affairs among a cast that includes a Crassus's second-rate philosopher-in-residence and a retired actor who doubles as a female impersonator. Richly detailed bacchanalian feasts and mesmerizing visits to the Sybil at Cumae lead to the spellbinding conclusion, reached during fierce gladiatorial combat. 35,000 first printing; BOMC alternate; paperback rights to Fawcett; author tour.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Review

A compulsively entertaining whodunit."—The New York Book Review

"Saylor interweaves history and suspense into another seamless thriller . . . A marvelously authentic slice of antiquity that will serve as a savory treat for fans of both mystery and historical fiction."—Booklist

"Steven Saylor impeccably recreates life in Imperial Rome . . . an intriguing mix of historical accuracy and tense drama."—St. Louis Post-Dispatch

"Sensuously written . . . Richly detailed baccanalian feasts and mesmerizing visits to the Sybil at Cumae lead to the spellbinding conclusion."—Publishers Weekly

"Captivating descriptions of Roman customs and mythologies, and interesting characters, enlivened from the pages of history."—San Francisco Sentinel

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
FOR all his fine qualities-his honesty and devotion, his cleverness, his uncanny agility-Eco was not well suited for answering the door. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Excelent Historical Mystery Novel July 9 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Arms of Nemesis is a very good historical mystery novel. The history and mystery aspects flow together very well. There is also plenty of suspense.
More importantly, there is real suspense in this novel. Additionally, the detective finds the clues in a consistently realistic manner. No fakey revelations here.
This is important because this is the very first novel by Steven Saylor that I've found that lived up to the reputation that he has had as an excellent writer of historical mystery novels. The other novels by Saylor that I've read thus far have either been middling quality works such as Murder on the Appian Way or really dreadful expositions such as his most recent novel, The Judgment of Caesar.
Arms of Nemesis is an excellent historical, mystery and suspense novel. If you have a need for some good escape reading, this is a novel that you should seriously consider.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Cultural Glance at its Peak April 15 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Gordianus the Finder is hired by the richest man in Rome, Marcus Crassus, to find the murderer of his cousin, Lucius Licinius. Most clues point towards the two runaway slaves. Therefore, Crassus is instituting the ancient Roman law of killing all of the rest of the household slaves. Will Gordianus solve the murder in time?
Steven Saylor did an excellent job maintaining historical authenticity throughout his work while still keeping it extremely interesting. The cultural descriptions were flawless while he simultaneously supplied varying points of view from the separate classes of people. The one flaw that I found however was the minimalistic references to the Spartacus rebellion occurring simultaneously.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Arms of Nemesis April 13 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Saylor's second novel in his Roma Sub Rosa series is surely a triumphant return after Roman Blood. I enjoyed the read through each plot twist and mysterious event. Saylor does an excellent job at elucidating each characters' motifs, points of view, and inner schemings. I especially liked the insight into the characters like Marcus Crassus, Mummius, and Faustus Fabius. Previously, these characters seemed almost mythic because they had been built up by hearsay and history; never before had I taken the time to examine the scale of their personal and political problems.
In addition, the novel is very urbane and progressive although it is set two thousand years ago. The day to day interaction between characters, as well as the social acceptance of things like affairs, homosexuality, and immoral acts for the greater good. I would recommend this novel, as well as all of Saylor's other novels (especially The House of The Vestals) to anyone who likes to read for entertainment and enjoys mystery.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Not Roman Blood, but still a great read Aug. 2 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
The only reason why I gave this one 4 stars is because I didn't like it as much as I liked Roman Blood, the first book in the series. But this book is a great read. Saylor keeps you guessing right up until the end. The addition of a sidekick(although he is much more than that) for Gordianus in his adopted son Eco is welcome. This relationship is special and has a sweet turn at the end. I love how Saylor titillates the reader with the stories of Mummius and Olympias and their surprise love interests. The author's exhaustive research is apparent in the intriguing details of classical food, potions, funerals, and other aspects of daily life of different classes of ancient people. The plight of slaves was conveyed with profound sympathy. Having experienced two suspenseful and beautifully written books so far, I will be sure to finish the Roman Sub Rosa series with enthusiam.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Arms of Nemesis March 22 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Set in 72 B.C., during the slave revolt led by Spartacus, Saylor's ( Roman Blood ) second historical mystery follows Roman PI Gordianus the Finder to the resort of Baiae on the Bay of Naples. The cousin and factotum of Marcus Licinius Crassus, the wealthiest man in Rome, has been bludgeoned to death, apparently by two slaves who have run away. An ancient Roman law decrees that when a master is killed by a slave, the remainder of the household's slaves must be slaughtered. Gordianus and his adopted son Eco have three days to find the real murderer and save the villa's other 99 slaves. A convoluted plot reveals fraud, embezzlement and arms smuggling (spears and swords traded for silver and jewels); sensuously written subplots hinge on arcanic poisons and clandestine love affairs among a cast that includes a Crassus's second-rate philosopher-in-residence and a retired actor who doubles as a female impersonator. Richly detailed bacchanalian feasts and mesmerizing visits to the Sybil at Cumae lead to the spellbinding conclusion, reached during fierce gladiatorial combat. 35,000 first printing; BOMC alternate; paperback rights to Fawcett; author tour
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3.0 out of 5 stars Second Isn't First Nov. 22 2002
Format:Mass Market Paperback
The second in Saylor's Roma Sub Rosa series wasn't what I hoped for, but it wasn't bad. I did like it enough to continue the series and I'm glad I did. Don't give up. Continue on to Cailina's Riddle.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Suspenseful, edge of your seat fun! Oct. 9 2002
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Ok, I gave it four stars because of some of the adult material in the novel (plus the fact that I'm more of an Agatha Christie/Hercule Poirot person and I'm not really into mystery novels), but above all, it was a good read. I had to read this for my Ancient Roman history class at San Diego State University. The story revolves around a dead government official, Marcus Crassus, and the issue of Roman slavery (apparently, they were no different than the slaveowners in the antebellum South).
Enter Gordianus the Finder and his sidekick, Eco, his adopted (and mute) son. The two must solve the case of the murder of the government official before something worse happens. The end of the book will surprise you! If you're looking for a good read, this is it. I stayed up until midnight reading "Arms of Nemesis."
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Much better than I expected
The other "Roman mysteries" I've read are by Lindsey Davis, books I can't say that I really like for several reasons. But this book, the first I read from Steven W. Read more
Published on March 12 2002 by TammyJo Eckhart
4.0 out of 5 stars Gordianus heads to the coast...
I'm not sure why this book is called "Arms of Nemesis: A Novel of Ancient Rome" since nearly the entire story is located in a villa near modern Naples, not Rome. Read more
Published on Jan. 18 2002 by lazza
4.0 out of 5 stars Strong Second Outing
Steven Saylor succeeds where many writers of historical fiction fail, largely because of strong character development and the ability to make ancient society seem natural -not just... Read more
Published on Dec 4 2001 by C. F Higgins
4.0 out of 5 stars Gordianus Unravels Gordian Knot of a Murder
O.K., I freely admit it, I love Gordianus the Finder. How could you not? He's wise, witty, occasionally cranky, and always believably human. Read more
Published on Aug. 20 2001 by E. Rothstein
4.0 out of 5 stars Gripping novel with a questionable ending.
The novel was a masterpiece in terms of historic accuracy, plot, and characterization. However, while I otherwise loved and would recommend the novel, the ending raises... Read more
Published on July 4 2001 by Herbert Dunsel
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful
This is a book about character mostly. Saylor has written one of the most impressive novels I have read lately. Period. Read more
Published on April 26 2001 by Karina A. Suarez
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