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5.0 out of 5 stars Rubicon
Even readers not drawn to historical settings should explore Saylor's impressive series (Murder on the Appian Way, etc.) set in ancient Rome. Saylor's protagonist, Gordianus the Finder, whom Cicero characterizes as "the most honest man in Rome," is an astute citizen and a detective for the Senate. An independent thinker, Gordianus has freed his slaves, marrying one, and...
Published on March 17 2003 by B. Viberg

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3.0 out of 5 stars A step down
Overall, Saylor's Roma Sub Rosa series is as good as any historical fiction series going. However, having read all of the books in the series to date, this one is the weakest of the lot. Saylor does not give this one the richness of detail and historical context of the other novels. It feels rushed and not well thought out. Also, and most annoyingly, there is a...
Published on Aug. 31 2003


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1.0 out of 5 stars A Suspense Novel Without The Suspense, June 7 2004
By 
Charles J. Rector (Woodstock, IL United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Rubicon: A Novel of Ancient Rome (Mass Market Paperback)
This book was a colossal disappointment. In Rubicon, Saylor does not use any of the lush characterization or attention to historical detail that he used in his previous novels in the Gordianus the Finder series.
Even worse, was the fact that this is a mystery novel without a real mystery. The reader is able to figure out whodunit very early on in the book. However, the detective Gordianus the Finder does not reveal the solution until after going through a series of contrived incidents that violate the readers's suspension of disbelief. The only reason why the solution was not revealed early on is that this would have made Rubicon no more than a novelette. In other words, Rubicon is a novelette with about 200+ pages of padding.
I give this novel a 1 out of 5 rating.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good Historical Fiction, Oct. 2 2003
This review is from: Rubicon: A Novel of Ancient Rome (Mass Market Paperback)
"Rubicon" is a brisk, absorbing read, one of the better popular historical novels set in ancient Rome during the lifetime of Julius Caesar. Saylor knows how to tell a story well, and he keeps his murder-mystery plots moving efficiently along. He creates interesting characters and credible conflicts and difficulties for them. This particular novel in Saylor's excellent Rome series is not the strongest, but it was certainly enjoyable. The main problem for this one is that Saylor leaves the mystery behind far too long in one stretch of the book, almost forgetting the murder with which his story began. In fact, Saylor's retelling of the story of Pompey's strategic retreat from Rome after Julius Caesar crosses the Rubicon has greater drama than solving the murder of Pompey's nephew. Saylor can't quite make these parts of the story adhere in a completely satisfying way. But I am certainly not complaining. Saylor has given us another fine story of Rome during the fascinating Civil War. His presentation of daily life in Rome is always aptly detailed and engrossing. He also has given this story a bit of philosophical depth by focusing closely at times on the psychology of the series' "detective", Gordianus the Finder. Moreover, the chapters on the battle at Brundisium, in which Pompey barely succeeded in escaping Caesar's fearsome army by fleeing across the Adriatic, are a compelling addition to the massive historical literature on the Roman Civil War. Overall, well done, Mr. Saylor. "Rubicon" does not rise to literature, but it certainly is good historical fiction.
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3.0 out of 5 stars A step down, Aug. 31 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: Rubicon: A Novel of Ancient Rome (Mass Market Paperback)
Overall, Saylor's Roma Sub Rosa series is as good as any historical fiction series going. However, having read all of the books in the series to date, this one is the weakest of the lot. Saylor does not give this one the richness of detail and historical context of the other novels. It feels rushed and not well thought out. Also, and most annoyingly, there is a substantial discontinuity between this book and the prior one in the series, "A Murder on the Appian Way". Saylor completely changes the background of the character Davus. Saylor's reasons for doing so are quite apparent but not convincing. This is a cardinal sin in a series where the general storyline and main characters are continuous and the books frequently contain cross-references. It is extremely jarring for longtime readers of the series to be asked to forget portions of a prior book.
Also, Saylor plays with fire (no pun intended) in the resolution of this book. Some readers may find the daring revelation at the climax to be inspired, but to me it is contrived and repetitive (weren't we on similar ground in "The Venus Throw"?).
The Gordianus books are a fine series of historical fiction and Saylor is a talented guy, but he can do better than this.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Rubicon, March 17 2003
By 
B. Viberg "Alex Rodriguez" (New York, NY United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Rubicon: A Novel of Ancient Rome (Mass Market Paperback)
Even readers not drawn to historical settings should explore Saylor's impressive series (Murder on the Appian Way, etc.) set in ancient Rome. Saylor's protagonist, Gordianus the Finder, whom Cicero characterizes as "the most honest man in Rome," is an astute citizen and a detective for the Senate. An independent thinker, Gordianus has freed his slaves, marrying one, and adopted several orphans whom he has raised as his own sons. But at 61, the wily Gordianus finds his survival instincts pushed to the utmost, for Rome is on the verge of civil war and all must be careful with their alliances. Caesar has crossed the Rubicon with his army, and his rival, Pompey, the head of the Roman Senate, is about to abandon the city, leaving its citizens without laws and protection. In the midst of this turmoil, Pompey's favorite cousin and trusted courier is murdered in Gordianus's garden. Infuriated, Pompey orders the sleuth to find the killer, insuring his loyalty by impressing one of Gordianus's relatives into his own army. While Gordianus copes with this treacherous mix of family and politics, a heightened frenzy overtakes Rome as it awaits Caesar's possible invasion. Saylor writes about ancient Rome as naturally and comfortably as if he had lived there, capturing both its glory and brutality. Finely shadowed characters and an action-packed finale make this a praiseworthy addition to a series that deserves wide attention. Agent, Alan Nevins; author tour.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Mysteries getting lost in the political intrigue, Nov. 13 2002
By 
TammyJo Eckhart "TammyJo Eckhart" (Bloomington, Indiana United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Rubicon: A Novel of Ancient Rome (Mass Market Paperback)
I still like this series because of how well it devels into the interpersonal relationships of the time and how the times can personally affect and change people. However, this is suppose to be a mystery series, yes? Well, the mystery is being far overshadowed by the political and personal intrigues in these last few books of the series. I fear it shall be even worse in the next book "The Road to Massalia". There isn't anything wrong innately about focusing on these intrigues but if a book is marked as a mystery, then it should involve a mystery.
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4.0 out of 5 stars It's Good to be Knocking Around 'Ole Rome Again, Oct. 16 2002
By 
J. Liberty "jimlib" (Van Nuys, CA USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Rubicon: A Novel of Ancient Rome (Mass Market Paperback)
That's the way this author brings to life the Roman Empire. He is wildly successful in making Rome a comfortable place to be. The plot would be no less fascinating were it to occur in the modern day. Whenever I am reading a novel of ancient Rome, I cannot help but draw comparisons to Colleen McCullough's series (starting with "The Grass Crown"). Her series is unquestionably more researched and has a more in depth feel. However, what Saylor lacks in historical accuracy he makes up for in "page-turn-ability". This is a great read with wonderfully fleshed out and believable characters - even if their sensibilities and language do seem a bit modern. Apparently I have started at the seventh book in his series and I look forward to reading number one and following the series.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Darker Days of Rome, Oct. 4 2002
This review is from: Rubicon: A Novel of Ancient Rome (Mass Market Paperback)
Another great entry in the Roman Sub Rosa series, Rubicon starts out a bit slow but ends with many surprises and is more of a cliff-hanger than any of Saylor's previous novels. Things get darker as Gordianus gets older, and his perspective on life changes with age. I like to give myself a bit of time between these novels to "cleanse my palate" with other books, but this time I don't know how long I can hold out until picking up "Massilia." If you think you know how this one will turn out, you will be in for quite a shock.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Whither Gordianus?, Aug. 9 2002
By 
jrmspnc (Maryland, USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Rubicon: A Novel of Ancient Rome (Mass Market Paperback)
Saylor remains a master of the written word, crafting a novel that flows seamlessly and effortlessly draws the reader into Ancient Rome. Yet Rubicon strikes with a very different impact from all of the preceeding Roma Sub Rosa novels. For one thing, the prose, while still enjoyable, lacks the power that was evident at times in earlier books. For another, it appears that Saylor has once and for all eschewed mystery in favor of straight historical drama. Although Rubicon begins with a mysterious dead body, the mystery surrounding it disappears quickly; instead, Gordianus becomes deeply enmeshed in the struggle between Caesar and Pompey, spending a great deal of time with Cicero's former slave, Tiro (who turns out to be a character best met in moderation; he suffers from prolonged exposure). Finally, Rubicon is much too short and too fast-paced - it's almost Saylor-lite. All of these things are not *necessarily* bad, but leave me feeling apprehensive about the next book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Rubicon, June 1 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Rubicon: A Novel of Ancient Rome (Mass Market Paperback)
Steven Saylor's "Rubicon" left me wanting more so I ordered all of the books in his Roma sub Roma series; they are a smashing good read and a history lesson at the same time - "Harry Potter" for adults.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Saylor in fine form ... again, April 8 2002
By 
lazza (Fort Lauderdale, Florida) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Rubicon: A Novel of Ancient Rome (Mass Market Paperback)
If you haven't read any of Saylor's Roma Sub Rosa novels then stop reading this review and proceed to reading reviews on the first novel in the series, Roman Blood, or better yet simply buy the book and read it. Saylor's novels are best read in sequence.
As for Rubicon, we have Gordianus caught up in a power struggle between Pompey and Caesar. He is pulled from Rome with Pompey's entourage and soon finds himself at a mighty battle at the harbour of what is now Brindisi. The battles scenes are enthralling. Better still, Rubicon has a surprise ending - no spoilers here! And he does a nice job in providing a lead-in into the next book the in the series, Last Seen in Massilia.
Bottom line: amongst the best in the Roma Sub Rosa series. Thoroughly enjoyable.
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Rubicon: A Novel of Ancient Rome
Rubicon: A Novel of Ancient Rome by Steven Saylor (Mass Market Paperback - Sept. 15 2000)
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