This book is a sequel to the book, Hero of Rome, which you should read prior to this one. It continues with the experiences of Valerius, the Hero of Rome.
In this book, Valerius is in Rome and summoned by Nero and told that he has a task - which will impact his future (life or death). His task is to find the leader of a "rebellious sect" known as Christians. Their leader is called "Petrus" or to many of us, St. Peter.
The remainder of the book is spent on Valerius' attempts to find St. Peter, his run ins with the Pratorian Guard and their evil and corrupt and dangerous leaders and his travels to Seneca's villa, the Danube and finally to the villa of Neros wife's family outside of Naples. It is at this final location that the climatic struggle occurs between Valerius and his men and the leaders of the Pratorian Guard and 20 of their men.
Nero is depicted properly as the personification of evil. He is sickly gross, maniacal, sadistic, etc. There is no reprehensible action that is beyond his capability. At one point, he makes sexual overtures to Valerius while in drag. At another point, he revels in the Christians being eaten by lions. And then, he sickly enjoys the burning of Christians who are tied to stakes and covered with pitch. Around him, as expected are further reprehensible individuals including his leader of Pratorian Guard plus his second in command.
On the other side, St. Peter is depicted as a strong but saintly individual who is very hard to find. However, at the end, he agrees to come back with Valerius and be turned in because Nero has threatened to kill 20,000 Jews in Rome if St. Peter doesn't give himself up.
There are some criticisms of this book that I have and the reason that I can't given it the highest marks. First, the book depicts St. Paul as a conniving individual who is in cahouts with Seneca - highly unbelievable, at least for me. Second, the traditional story was that Nero only pursued persecuting the Christians after the burning of Rome. This story all occurs prior to that. Third, the book depicts that there were many top Romans who became Christians at this time, including Nero's wife - this last item was hard for me to believe but it makes for a good ending of the story.
However, in spite of these criticisms, I do recommend this book for anyone interested in Roman history written in a lively, action oriented manner. If you are interested in this historical context, the book draws you in and keeps you interested.
- Paperback: 480 pages
- Publisher: Transworld Publishers Ltd (5 July 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0552161349
- ISBN-13: 978-0552161343
- Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 3 x 19.7 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 340 g
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- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 225,769 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)