Arms of Nemesis: A Novel of Ancient Rome Mass Market Paperback – Feb 15 2001
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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 an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"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
Top Customer Reviews
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.
In this book we have Gordianus, our favorite Roman private eye, hired to find the murderer of a caretaker of a seaside villa. The murderer is presumed to be one of victim's slaves, and so as punishment the villa's owner threatens to kill all slaves at the estate. This comes at a very ticklish time when southern Italy was grappling with slave unrest, courtesy of Spartacus. The story is generally believable, and we are treated with a host of curious characters. Very enjoyable.
However my only gripe with the novel is its heavy references to homosexuality, complete with a romance between a military officer and a slave. While Saylor does handle this subject with panache and good taste, I am not convinced all this gay context reflects Roman history - Saylor makes no mention of it as part of his historical references. However I do know Saylor has a previous life of a writer of gay erotica (under an assumed name), and so I fear the gay subplot and copious references to naked men might reflect wishful thinking on the part of Saylor on how things might have been, but not as how they actually were.
Bottom line: a well-written historical novel with fine characterisations. Recommended.
While I will not give away the ending, I will mention what I perceive to be a logical flaw. The identity of the murderer boils down to a choice between a Greek and a Roman. And, this murder takes place during the Spartican Rebellion ... a time when Romans had no love for Greeks and trusted them even less. Assume for a moment that a Greek accused a Roman of murder. If you were a Roman during that time ... and if the accused Roman replied to this accusation, "No, it was the Greek who did it and now lies to save himself," who would you believe? Simple. You'd take the Roman's word. Sadly, the Roman refuses to respond -- making the book's ending seem more like the ending of a Perry Mason TV show where the murderer just throws up his hands and cries, "OK, I did it." This ending was unworthy of the great novel before it.
Even though there are passages where you'll feel you are suffering yourself, you won't want to put it down. The backdrop of this particular story is the revolt of Spartacus, which makes the issue of slavery the central point of the book. Although it is not moralizing, there are passages in the book that will bring you, the reader, close to tears. Gordianus is summoned to investigate the brutal murder of one of Crassus's administrators at one of his many villas at the countryside. He is taken there by ship; and here is when one of the many gory descriptions of ancient slavery takes place: with the rowers at the bottom of the "Fury" - the actual name of an imposing ship.
Throughout the story Gordianus takes almost a frantic approach to save the lives of many slaves, although, being a roman citizen himself, he doesn't understand really why. The story is so trascendental, one can understand why Gordianus, in the next book, his own family established with Bethesda, decides to retire to the country. He could hardly imagine what Saylor had in store for him in future adventures!
Most recent customer reviews
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. Read morePublished on July 9 2004 by Charles J. Rector
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. Read morePublished on April 15 2004 by Professor Genius
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. Read morePublished on Aug. 2 2003 by Nathan Crabtree
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. Read morePublished on Nov. 22 2002
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... Read morePublished on Oct. 9 2002 by christianwriter
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 morePublished on March 12 2002 by TammyJo Eckhart
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 morePublished on Dec 4 2001 by C. F Higgins