Ok, cutting to the chase I love some historical fiction a lot. Others, especially the mushy stuff, take Harlequin romance wannabes, not so much. The Romans, the Middle Ages, and the American Civil War I’ll give a shot anytime, which brings me to Steven Saylor’s Empire.
Saylor, Latin scholar and author of the acclaimed Roma Sub Rosa mystery series, knows his Romans. Especially the emperors around whom the historical record mostly focuses. The emperors command center stage in most accounts of Rome, as they did in life. Saylor’s novel Empire brings to life the period of the Imperial Rome from the reign of Augustus to the burial of Hadrian. He tells the story of the aristocratic Pinarius family. It is through several generation of this family we see an insider’s view into imperial palaces and gladiator games and even daily life in Rome. Good historical fiction takes the true facts of an era and in the words of a knowledgeable author we can read characters words and thoughts and see those people come alive. Thus, the great events of the span from 14 C.E. through 141 C.E., including the Great Fire, the persecutions of Christians, numerous military campaigns, and, of course, insanity and perversion among the emperors also come alive. Saylor does this well.
On the negative side there isn’t really much of a plot. The point seems to clearly be that the majority of the emperors in the period focused on where bad bad bad. The tale does, however show how the underlying strength of Roman culture held firm in spite of some bad leadership. The characters are somewhat thinly sketched except for the emperors and what a collection both good and bad they are……
All in all though, I enjoyed the book but it doesn’t come close to author Coleen McCulloughs novels on ancient Rome. Now that woman could really write....
My old neighbor and friend, Alfred Noyer writes historical fiction and his books are quite interesting and engaging. I would like to recommend his books - http://www.albertnoyer.com/novels.htmlReplyDelete
You do enjoy history for sure through your many books you write about online -- barbaraReplyDelete
I too love historical fiction--not the romance types either. It has been a while since I have enjoyed such a book, not since Ken Follett.ReplyDelete
My hubby might like this book more than I would. I'm not much of a reader these days (just too busy doing too many other things...)--but George enjoys historical books, both fiction and non-fiction. Thanks for sharing.ReplyDelete
I will tell hubby about this book, he loves anything to do with Rome.ReplyDelete
It's a pleasant way to learn something of history.ReplyDelete
Well then, maybe I will skip this book. I do like the topic. Perhaps, I'll try reading the book you mentioned at the end of the post.ReplyDelete
It's interesting that you mention that "the underlying strength of Roman culture" prevailed, because Vicki and I left comments in that regard, regarding America, yesterday on Jim Baca's Only In New Mexico blog. I for one am always on the lookout for evidence that the end is nigh, or that the revolution has begun. Either way is fine.ReplyDelete
But it's also interesting that you'd notice that aspect of the novel. If you're not careful you're going wander out of book reviewing and find yourself over in literary criticism. I enjoy your insights.
I WANT THIS. Man, I wish you'd been my social studies teacher!ReplyDelete
I love well researched historical fiction. Have you read those wondeful mysteries set in the time of Vespasius, featuring a detective named Falco? Lindsey Davis. I love the way the books take you into the lives of ordinary people. And like any good murder mystery they are fun to read.ReplyDelete