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
be after reading this novel. A sense of urgency pervades the book,
from the moment Gordinius is hustled aboard a ship to visit an estate
in the south of Rome to the very end when Gordinius is brought news
of the fate of those he met. The primary plot of Arms of Nemesis focuses
on the fate of a few -- those slaves who will all be killed unless the
murderer of the master is found. Its backdrop is the great slave revolt
led by Spartacus and romanticized by the silver screen. Gordinius
struggles on a personal level with the concept of slavery and how
it affects him as a Roman citizen. The choices he makes are personal,
yet Saylor never attempts to impose modern values on this ancient
detective. The decisions he makes are within the context of his current
morality and philosophy. While many of his contemporaries tell Gordinius
he is wasting his time to save the lives of these hapless slaves, he
still pursues justice for both slave and master. Saylor reveals the
relationships between masters and slaves and how even the kindest
of relationships can have bitter endings for both parties. while solving
the mystery, Gordinius learns more about the cults found among the
women of Rome and in doing so, teaches much to the reader. "Arms of
Nemesis is a book well worth reading, and one that will haunt the
reader's heart and conscience for a long time to come.
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!
Hard-boiled detective mysteries are pretty formulaic-Gordianus is soft-boiled Truth, justice and the Roman-way are more important to him then silver. This novel is Grisham-esque mixing murder, money, and corporate politics Roman style. Saylor continues to write well. His description of the Roman funeral rites, and the drugged Sybil were particularly good. His violence and action passages continue to be a bit weak. In addition, homosexual relations receive more development then straight sex in this story. I'm a little disappointed with the author's legerdemain to keep the murderer's identity secret until the end.
"Arms of Nemesis" is good. However, it is not as good as Saylor's first novel "Roman Blood". Historical murder mystery readers will enjoy it for its accuracy and detail.
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
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. Read morePublished on April 13 2004
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
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 morePublished on Jan. 18 2002 by lazza
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