Steven Saylor is undeniably knowledgeable about life in ancient Rome, and in Gordianus the Finder, Saylor has created an interesting and sympathetic character. The lawyer and orator Cicero is another jewel in the crown of this book, an impressive feat for a murder mystery writer. Saylor tends to do an excellent job, in fact, with all his characters, as well as an excellent job evoking the sights and sounds of ancient Rome. The plot of Roman Blood is unexpectedly complex and has a neat twist at the end. "All good things," as Olaf the Snowman would say. The two beefs that I have with this book are pacing and gratuitous sex. First, Saylor has done so much homework on the time period that he tends frequently to philosophize about the great empire that was Rome, as well as to occasionally insert longer-than-necessary sections giving historical context to a character or event. Second, other than the pacing, Saylor's writing is excellent: there's no need to have sex implied or described numerous times throughout the novel. As far as ancient Roman murder mystery series go, I would recommend the Medicus series by Ruth Downie, the SPQR series by John Maddox Roberts, or the Falco series by Lindsey Davis. All of those, at least in my limited experience with each series, have less sex and may have better pacing (it's been awhile since I've read Davis, so I'm shaky on her) than Saylor, and for all three of those the research is just as educational, if not (especially in the case of Maddox Roberts) more instructive even than Saylor's, but in a slightly less painful way. No offense, Mr. Saylor :).
What would Keats and Aristotle say? Definitely greatness of content in Gordianus' unique quest for justice. Beauty and greatness of execution in Saylor's style, vivid characters, and plot. Just some content flaws here and there with utterly gratuitous sex and too much historical backstory slowing down the pace of the work at times. I will probably read book two in the series with the hope that it doesn't contain as much gratuitous sex (maybe that was just a "hook" in the first one in the series?) and also because I seem to have already acquired a copy of it from a used book sale.
- Audio CD
- Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.; Unabridged edition (31 July 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1441712933
- ISBN-13: 978-1441712936
- Product Dimensions: 13.3 x 3.8 x 14.6 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 340 g
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