Covering 1044 years of history in 550 pages is quite a feat Saylor does it by following two families down through the ages from when Rome was a stop on a salt trading route to the ascension of Octavius to be the first Emperor, Caesar Augustus.Each chapter is a vignette that might even stand alone but is tied to the previous story and the succeeding story by family ties and the passing down of a gold amulet, in the shape of a winged phallus, from generation to generation By so doing Saylor is able to highlight many of the major events in the history of Rome through the eyes of one of the descendants of either the Potitius family or the Pinarius family My favorite is the tale covering the occupation of Rome by the Gauls in 393 92 BC and the subsequent romance between the Vestal Pinaria and the slave Titus atop the Capitoline hill, the only part of Rome to hold out against the invaders.I ve read a number of Roman Historical Novels and aside from Colleen McCullough s 7 book series, this is as fine a job as any were able to do The characters are believable The behavior of the Romans were drawn most realistically His research must have been very thorough I had the book club edition with an interview of the author in the back I was impressed with his list of sources.I had a difficult time putting the book down. Marvellous sweeping saga by the author of the Gordianus the Finder books.There are two families, cousins, this is their story interwined with that of Rome From pre history to the end of the Republic, the story of these families moves with that of Rome.I love Steven Saylor s reasoning behind some of the arcane rituals of Roman religiosity Saylor has a lively imagination and has created a thoroughly believable background to the city state that was Rome.Well written and impeccably researched, Roma is an excellent read. Steven Saylor definitely took on a huge task when he chose to write a novelized history of Rome from the viewpoint of one of the oldest patrician families, but least known in modern times the Pinarii, and their cousins the Potitii The novel touches on the important turning points of Rome s history, when members of the Pinarii or the Potitii are constantly being caught up in momentous events the sack of Rome by Gauls, the Carthaginian wars, the campaign of Scipio, the dictatorship of Sulla, and so on and actually living the events, with the uncertainty and awe of a person caught up in the middle of something with no idea how it will end The Pinarius or Potitius central to each episode of the book is our main character but not history s main character, and as the family descends through time and is influenced by past character s actions, so are we as readers This is half story, half history, in the Livian vein and a great homage to Livy s history of Rome The facts are mostly solid, and if two facts were available, well we are writing a novel here, not a textbook, and we the writer are allowed to pick whichever one fits the story we want to tell the best I feel compelled now to check a few of Saylor s facts, like was Julius Caesar s sister Julia really married to a Pinarius, or has Saylor made that up out of whole cloth because if all these occurrences of Pinarii and Potitii were Saylor has them occurring are documentable fact, then Saylor s masterful filling in of the blanks is even refined and elegant than I thought.The source material Saylor lists in the book s Afterword is also excellent, including his use of T.P Wiseman s Remus A Roman Myth as source material on the pre foundation history of Rome and the various foundation myths I cannot praise enough this decision on Saylor s part Saylor s Remus was not a carbon copy of Wiseman s Remus, but many of Wiseman s observations seem to have influenced Saylor s character creation, and his imagination of the earliest layout of the city Whereas Wiseman deals academically with the Romulus Remus story, Saylor says to himself How can I make this plausible in the real world, not the world of myth and then he goes and does so I can t say enough, even in the review of a different book, about the value of Wiseman s work on Remus to classical scholars and if you are going to take on the task of tackling Saylor s Roma, then Wiseman s Remus A Roman Myth will subsequently be no trouble at all and might help the reader flesh out the pre historic Roman world as presented by Saylor The one is so clearly, and well, informed by the other.The omniscient narration of Roma does not have the same voice as the character centric narration of Saylor s Gordianus the Finder mystery series, for which I am truly grateful The writing style employed for mysteries would not suit a larger work such as Roma Different genres require different approaches, and it is not every writer who can go from one to another easily and successfully The tone and style of Roma is suitable to a long fiction work with many characters and a complex plot full of details The book has been broken up into historical episodes, loosely based on a single generation of characters, but of course the common thread running through all the episodes is the family being focussed on usually the Pinarii You only need to worry about one Lucius Pinarius at a time, which is a relief, as Romans were not very creative namers and you tended to get two or three of every name in a single generation When one Lucius Pinarius thinks back to the actions of another Lucius Pinarius, Saylor says something like Lucius remembered that his great great grandfather, also named Lucius Pinarius, did such and such or knew so and so, and that is enough to jog the reader s memory Oh yeah, I remember that, or Oh my gosh kid, you are so misinformed But as misinformation or lies from a previous generation become enshrined in popular memory, they become historical fact, and it seems to me that in the book itself Saylor has found a way to comment on the veracity or not of the historical facts we re operating with today Did it really happen the way we think it did Or is there a historical truth there that will never come to light And how does knowing that is a possibility change the way we view history itself In short This may be a bit overwhelming for the Roman history novice, who isn t vaguely familiar with the people and places Saylor employs in his narrative There s a lot in this book to soak up If you aren t daunted by that, all the better for you For the reader fairly familiar with Roman history, especially the the early books of Livy and the half forgotten period of the Kings and the early Republic, my recommendation is have at with abandon, you will love this. Excellent fiction If I were to recommend a book to a child in order for them to learn about Romans, this would be it.For the experienced reader, Livy would suffice. The book starts with the very first people to walk the Tiber route the metal and salt traders, followed by a number of settlers who thought it advantageous to create a market for trade, through Romulus and Remus and the kings of Rome, followed by the tumultuous centuries of the Republic, culminating in the rule of Augustus.The story of Rome is also the story of two patrician families the Potitii and the Pinarii, their rise and fall, successes and misfortunes, their members constantly in the thick of all things.My favourite stories were those of the Vestal Pinaria during the occupation of the city by Goths and the story of Kaeso Fabius Dorso, a friend of Scipio Africanus This was my second time reading this book and though I ve found it just as informative and inspired, I couldn t help noticing the amount of exposition that was going on previous stories retold by characters themselves numerous conversations of the as you know variety, turning this into an entertaining but uncomplicated story. An epic biography of the city, spanning a thousand years from the first meeting of traders across the as yet unnamed hills to the rise of Augustus Caesar Legendary figures such as Romulus and Remus are made historical, and Saylor even gives one possible source for the birth of the legends of Hercules and his vanquishing of the monster Cacus Obviously, with a tome this vast, the narrative skips staccato like over decades and centuries, but Saylor makes stops at all the high and low points the rise and fall of the hero turned traitor Coriolanus the sack of Rome by the Gauls the invasion of Hannibal the attempt of the Gracchi to reform the class system and their subsequent assassination the rise and death of Julius Caesar.I was mostly disappointed in this book In many ways it reminded me of Edward Rutherfurd s Sarum, also the epic biography of a city that follows the rise and fall in fortunes of very old families in the city This book has some of Sarum s flaws, as well, especially its didactic, lecturing tone I m a fan of Saylor s Sub Rosa series, and sadly, I didn t get that feel of being totally immersed in a time and culture that I do in the Gordianus books For the most part, these characters don t visit the baths or watch gladiators or visit slave markets or play ancient dice games or walk dusty streets shoulder to shoulder with slaves, soldiers, and philosophers they sit around and explain their surroundings It s understandable that Saylor wants to keep the readers abreast of the years of history he must perforce glide over, but the result is a book that is often dry and extremely exposition heavy, particularly between eras I found myself wondering how it would sound if in a novel set during, say, World War II, a character were to say to another, You know, of course, how Germany s dictator, Hitler, has invaded Poland, and that our current leader, Churchill, advocates nothing but total war, in stark contrast to his predecessor Chamberlain, who is popularly regarded as an appeaser It would sound forced and wholly artificial, just as Saylor s quite similar explanations do Even worse, his exposition is not limited to historical forces Saylor has characters saying such things as My son, Gaius, and my two daughters to people who are their close friends Given the length of the book and the number of personages in it, this is understandable and perhaps the most efficient way to introduce new concepts and characters, but, again, it has an artificial ring For these reasons, I enjoyed the book best when Saylor was sticking to history that was educated guesses the very early days shrouded in legend , or the later, Augustian, years when everything had been established. Good book, but not as fun as Saylor s Gordianus the Finder novels stories.I think my problem here is the same that I have with lots of historical fiction or at least that branch of historical fiction which tries to cover decades centuries in the course of one novel you don t get to stay with any one character long enough to really care about them The only author I ve read who dealt with this satisfactorily is Edward Rutherfurd I can t recommend his book Sarum enough Every family member he focused on across the scope of British history was strangely similar to his ancestors, so much so that in my head, they all looked like the same person, even though they were separated by centuries But I digress The book is well written full of interesting tidbits about Roman history Just what it says on the tin If that s what you re looking for, you ll be well served here. Find the enhanced version of this and other reviews at had no expectations whatsoever going into Steven Saylor s Roma I only stumbled on it by accident, deciding to read it on a whim than anything else I had no comprehension of what I was getting myself into, nor any real grasp of the extensive scope of material covered within these pages This being the case you might understand what a pleasant surprise my ultimate enjoyment of the piece was Most family sagas tell the story a family against the backdrop of history, but Saylor took Roma in the opposite direction, telling the story of Rome through several generations of two ancient households Under Saylor s pen, Rome becomes a character in and of herself, so than any of the individuals through which her story is told It is an approach I d never before encountered and one I found I greatly enjoyed.I have never studied the history of Rome so many of the historic event and mythic legends Saylor incorporates into his work were entirely new to me Not being well versed in the the majority of the material, I found in every chapter something new and fascinating from the rape of Lucretia to the building of the Appian Way, from the founding of the Ara Maxima to the sacking of Rome by the Gallic Chieftain Brennus Thoroughly captivating There is just no other way to describe it.Despite my appreciation for Roma, I wouldn t recommend it to the casual reader This isn t character driven historic fiction If that is your interest, look to Kate Quinn s Empress of the Seven Hills No, the beauty of Saylor s work in his recreation of the social and political intricacies of the ancient city as well as the life he breathes into the events that shaped it One need not be an authority to enjoy this book, but all the same, I think it best suited to those with a deep interest in the city s history and ancient culture. This was an astonishingly bad book It ranks among the worst historical fictions I have ever had the misfortune of encountering.I ll give Saylor points for concept an historical novel covering the history of Rome from its founding to the end of the republic is a formidable and praiseworthy undertaking However, sailing solo around the world is also a formidable praiseworthy undertaking, but if you forget to pack your lunch that just makes you a twat with an inflated view of your capabilities This book was to Steven Saylor as sailing around the world solo would be to anyone likely to forget their lunch Rather than break my will to live flailing against the towering precipice that is this book s awfulness, I shall focus merely on the one aspect that, for me, made it astonishingly bad, rather than just plain, commonal garden bad exposition I have never encountered a book in which plot exposition was handled this poorly I know a guy who writes stories for fun, and his plots are exposed about this badly, but he ll never get published, god willing To cover off roughly a millenia of history in a barely reasonable length Saylor has to skip decades sometimes centuries at a time between the little vignettes that make up this novel As such, anything that you d learned from the previous story about what was going on in Rome is out of date, as the political scene has changed out of sight Happily or not it s Saylor to the rescue with a clumsily arranged history lesson Often, in the form of an actual history lesson being given or received by one of the main characters After 10 or 20 of these, I was ready to give in But I was on an aeroplane, and I was morbidly fascinated to know if it could get any worse It did Don t read this book unless you re a close friend of Steven Saylor s, in which case it would be rude not to, or unless you want a lesson in how not to do plot exposition. Este Livro Uma Saga Pica De Roma, Da Cidade E Do Povo Romano, Que Abraca Um Per Odo De Um Milhar De Anos E Acompanha As Aventuras E Desventuras De Duas Fam Lias, Ao Longo De Sucessivas Gera Es Entretecendo A Hist Ria, A Lenda E As Mais Recentes Descobertas Arqueol Gicas Numa Narrativa Fascinante, Confere Nova Vida Aos Dramas Vividos Nos Primeiros Mil Anos Da Cidade Desde A Sua Funda O Pelos Malfadados R Mulo E Remo At Ao Ass Nio De J Lio C Sar Uma Epopeia Em Todos Os Sentidos Da Palavra E O T Tulo Mais Aclamado De Saylor
Roma Sub Rosa series featuring Gordianus the Finder, as well as the New York Times bestselling novel, Roma and its follow up, Empire He has appeared as an on air expert on Roman history and life on The History Channel Saylor was born in Texas and graduated with high honors from The University of Texas at Austin, where he studied history and classics He divides his time between Berkeley, California, and Austin, Texas.
- Capa Mole
- 664 pages
- Roma: The Novel of Ancient Rome
- Steven Saylor
- 05 March 2017 Steven Saylor