Until recently, I had no idea that David Corson had written his Trajan and Plotina. Having enjoyed his account Domitian and Domitia greatly I looked forward with a lot of anticipation to this book. Perhaps this novel does not quite measure up to his earlier book but Mr. Corson has given us a readable and highly enjoyable account of the lives of his subjects. Trajan and Plotina may seem a somewhat unlikely choice for a novel and in a way they remain the perfect prince and his perfect wife. The relationship between this married couple is one of intimate friendship, and I imagine that the real Plotina probably was a highly educated woman and that she was an intellectual support for her husband. So the relationship portrayed here is probably very close to the mark.
The novel is written in short episodes gathered into chapters recounting a period of years. There is a bit of skipping toward the beginning. We travel from 71 CE to 75 and jump through most of Domitian's reign with chapters covering 86-90 and 95-97. We miss a description of Trajan's consulship in 91 and his contacts with the emperor when one of his amici. It is almost as if the book was left unfinished due to the death of Mr. Corson but I understand that he had finished the book. Modern names are used for several familiar cities, for example Budapest, Genoa and Beirut, and Mr. Corson identifies the future emperor Antoninus as Pius in his book even though he acquired that name only as emperor. However, I don't know of a good way to tell the reader that, yes, this child is a future emperor, and this is a novel after all. .The writing is quite good and I especially liked the exciting description of a gladiatorial fight between two veteran fighters. The book gives dignity to the people being described without making them unapproachable or silly. While this is a novel that I would not consider light reading for someone interested in ancient history it is a perfect addition to their library.