SPQR IV: The Temple of the Muses Paperback – Oct 13 1999
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“Wonderful...All the wild imaginative stimulation of the best detective fiction.” ―Marion Zimmer Bradley, author of The Mists of Avalon
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"Wonderful...All the wild imaginative stimulation of the best detective fiction." -Marion Zimmer Bradley, Author of THE MISTS OF AVALONSee all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
In this particular offering, the historical phase of the story is particularly entertaining as it enlightens the reader with regard to the lost city of Alexandria. Decius is part of an envoy to the city of Alexandria, so we are privy to his first hand encounter of a city built on a grid, newer and so different from Rome. As Decius tours, so do we. We visit some of the wonders of the ancient world: the fabled great Library, the temple of the Muses (Museum) and the great Pharos lighthouse. Amidst this backdrop, Decius entertains with his impressions of the alien Hellenic Egyptians (Berenice, Cleopatra and Ptolemy) and the strange barbarian cults which are housed in foreign temples along Alexandia's wide thoroughfares. We are enlightened as to his thoughts of the more prominent Romans of his day: Julius Caesar, Crassius, Sulla and their progeny,Sulla's daughter. Fausta and Decius' fiance, Julia Minor, daughter of Lucius Caesar.Read more ›
And the result is as well as Todd's Claudia Seferius and better than Davis' Didius Falco.
This installment finds our erstwhile hero appearing as a Roman diplomat at Alexandria, in the Eyptian province. Ably supported by his slave Hermes and the great physician character, Asklepodies he is quickly joined by his now-confirmed betrothed Julia Minor and the female half of Sulla's twin children, Fausta.
As Decius and Julia wrly note towards the end, Decius gets tangled in a web of murder simply because it is, as Ptolemy the Flute-Player notes, his hobby. The murder, mayhem and rioting that he brings as part of his investigatory technique disrputs an entire city to the point that his denouement and great service to the Roman state is swiftly followed by him being tossed on the nearest ship to Rhodes. Never mind.
No venture into Alexandria can occur without philosophical ramblings (Decius' dry comments on the death of Archimedes to Antigones is extremely humorous) and they abound here in plenty, beginning with the death of the mathematician turned secret mechanics-dabbler Iphicrates.
The only thing that slightly disappoints and echoes the previous novel, is that the 'uncovering' is always lame. In this case the three culprits get together, write everything down and neatly recount everything they've done to the listening Decius. These people deserve to be caught if that's the case. You get the feeling JMR hadn't quite yet mastered the art of the murder mystery denouement in the same vein as that master of such - Agatha Christie.
Nevertheless, aside from a poor murder mystery ending, the rest of the tale is extremely good and the dry sardonic innocence of Decius 'snooping' is now firmly established making this tale very humorous.
There's a didactic subtext to these stories: pay attention and we can learn much about the organization of Roman society and politics, its economic basis and strategic considerations (especially re Egypt in this book), and the origin of modern terms like politics or Muse-um.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
How wonderful that this book has finally reappeared in English! I've had to read volumes 4-8 of the SPQR series in German translation (they seem to be very popular in Germany). Read morePublished on July 6 2000 by Theophanu
I have yet to read the 5th book, but Temple of the Muses is my favorite of the series to date. I'd always been interested in the great Library at Alexandria, but this was the... Read morePublished on March 6 2000