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on May 11, 2014
Great way to enjoy a Mystery & Learn about Ancient Rome!
Want to read the couple I missed in between the ones I have now.
I suggest getting all of them. Start with Roma for the very beginning & to give you background for whole series.
Then get the rest of the books to enjoy some good mysteries with likeable characters & catch a glimpse of what life was like during those times.
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on August 31, 2003
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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on May 21, 2001
After a rather lame novel ("A murder on the Appian way")comes this sequel that really picks-up the spirit of the series. No lengthy narratives either; unlike the rest of them, it jumps right in: Gordianus finds a corpse in his own garden, and no one seems to know who might have possibly committed the crime. Even the watchful Minerva seems oblivious.
Gordianus is thus drawn into a saga of lies, deception, blackmail and brutal war. The story centers itself on Caesar's famous crossing of the Rubicon river, at the north of Italy, an event that precipitated the civil war that would, eventually, make him Caesar of the vast Roman Empire.
Once more, Gordianus's involvement is mainly personal: Pompey has given him an order to find the murderer of Numerious - a distant relative and the character found strangled in Gordianus's garden. Until this is accomplished, he'll take Diana's husband, Davus, as a guarantee with him to the front. Needless to say, Gordianus's daughter is devastated and so is everyone else.
Readers will be surprised at the actions of Gordianus - quite shocking, as in one of the previous novels; but that would be telling. Then again, what wouldn't anyone do for one's own family, especially if one's the head of it? Dare to cross this Rubicon.
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on August 9, 2002
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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on September 12, 2000
Our intrepid hero, Gordianus the Finder, is back in another mystery, much older than the last time we saw him. Civil war is about to break out in Rome, with the rivalry between Caesar and Pompey coming to a head. To make everything worse, a close relative of Pompey's is killed in Gordianus' home, and the Great One coerces Gordianus to find the killer by impressing our hero's son-in-law into his service. As usual, the author's extensive knowledge of ancient Rome is worn lightly, so that you learn a lot about the time and place without appearing to be taught. This series is every bit as good as the Marcus Didius Falco series on Rome, even though it takes place a century earlier. If you haven't read any of these books, begin the series and go through them all seven of them. They are well worth the effort!
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on September 5, 2000
The hero is back in the thick of the action, even though he is feeling his age. He is thrust into the thick of the most famous Roman Civil War. His puzzle or mystery concerns members of both factions,a nd he interacts with them in a wonderful manner. There is lots of believable history mixed into this adventure, and the characters and situations stand side by side with descriptions from Cicero, Julius Caesar and Lucan! I won't spoil the ending, but I read this in one sitting, well into the wee hours, and placed it down with regret, wishing I could already see the next part of the adventure! I am making this a suggested reading for my Honors World History class! Steven Saylor makes history come alive, with all the shiny swords and polished armor, as well as dingy, smelly backroads and dirty secrets. Take a trip through the time of Julius Caesar, Pompey Magnus and Gordianus the Finder, you will be glad you spent your time so well!
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on April 8, 2002
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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on October 2, 2003
"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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on October 16, 2002
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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on November 13, 2002
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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